Doug Lyons 4/4/22
While the Atherton # 4 can be considered the classic fly whose lineage can be traced to the Battenkill, there are other flies whose roots are watered by the sparkling flows of this beautiful river. Let’s examine a couple of emerger patterns that are well worth carrying to meet the Hendrickson hatch.
The first comes from the vice of George Schlotter; the former proprietor of the Anglers Nook. This cozy shop, located about a mile west of the Vermont Border on Route 313, played host to anglers both well-known and not that came to match their wits with the sometimes-difficult brown trout that inhabit the river. George is still tying flies to this day, though he has taken his talents on the road.
As many anglers know, trout will sometimes focus on the emerging insect rather than the floating dun. The rise-form looks similar to that of dun eating trout, though close observation will show that the trout is barely poking its nose out of the water. The bug being taken is either invisible to the angler or can be seen as a partially emerged mayfly. Schlotter’s hen wing emerger is a perfect imitation for imitating flies that are stuck in the surface film and have not yet unfurled their wings. Perhaps they are cripples or the day is such that it is more difficult for the fly to fully emerge. Whatever the case may be, fishing this fly in the film or even just under the surface can be tremendously effective.
Another fly that has a link to the Battenkill is Tom Rosenbauer’s CDC Rabbit Foot Emerger. While Tom is a fellow that has fished all over the world, he cut his teeth on the Battenkill. There can be little doubt that Tom’s experiences on the river have influenced how he fishes as well as how he ties a good fly.
Unlike Schlotter’s emerger, Tom’s fly gives the trout a view of a fly that has its wings more fully formed. Tied on a curved hook, the profile of the fly is different too. The trout sees a fly whose body is just under water or in the film while the wings are protruding above the surface. The wing is made of snow shoe rabbit foot hair, which has excellent buoyancy. Throw in some antron for the trailing shuck and cdc for legs and you have a great fly that is visible to the angler that is easy to follow along the surface.
When you do encounter trout rising to Hendricksons a tool worth having is a pair of binoculars. Taking the time to scope the fish will often tell you which stage of the emergence an individual trout is feeding on, eliminating some of the guesswork involved. It should be remembered too, that not all fish are feeding on the same stage of the hatch throughout a particular run or pool. I consider binoculars to be an essential part of what I carry on the stream.
By carrying these two patterns plus the Atherton # 4, you are well equipped to meet the emergence in a style well suited for the Battenkill. Tied in different colors and sizes the hen wing emerger and snowshoe rabbit emerger will cover you well throughout the season.
The recipe for the two flies specific to the Hendrickson hatch are follows:
Hen Wing Emerger (George Schlotter)
Hook / Size: standard dry fly / # 14
Tail: wood duck
Body: dark brown
Rib: brown embroidery thread
Legs: A few turns of medium dun hen hackle
Wings: Point of the hackle used to form the legs
CDC Rabbit Foot Emerger (Tom Rosenbauer)
Hook: Curved style to match # 14 fly
Tail: Sparse Antron or Z-lon – brown (make sure fibers have been teased out and separated). I use a length roughly ¼ the size of the body
Body: Dark Brown
Wing: Snow shoe rabbit foot dyed medium dun, slanting backwards over the body. I make the wing about half the size of a fully emerged fly
Hackle: small tuft of medium dun cdc tied on each side of the hook
Head: to match the emerging Hendrickson (I use the dubbing used for the Atherton # 4)
We will conclude this series with an obscure but easy to tie spinner pattern but in the meantime begin tying some emergers to meet the dun phase of the hatch.