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Welcome back to the new NEFF. Take a break from Twitter and Facebook. You don't go to Dicks for your fly fishing gear, you go to your local fly fishing store. Enjoy!

Penns Creek PA 5-7 to 5-10


Fly Rod User
Fished Penns from Wed 5-7 to Sat 5-10. Overall conditions were excellent and I caught more fish in 4 days on Penns than I have caught total from Penns the last 4 years. Wed. it was cloudy and the fish fed all afternoon. In the evening I lost fish in just about every way possible, broken hook, hook straightened out, broken knot at hook, broken tippet knot, ha ha. I still had plenty of action and managed to land a handful of fish. Most fish where caught swinging a soft hackle just under the surface in moving water. The strikes were jolting. I saw caddis, grannoms, hendricksons and march browns. The march browns did not come down on Wed.

So, Thursday I fished the lower project water and used heavier tippet and a couple of other adjustments - and I did much better. I spent some time waiting for some anglers to leave a certain run, though they ended up not leaving. This forced me to fish the faster water upstream from them. Swinging soft hackles through the pockets worked very well for me, and sometimes I would find a pocket that held several fish. Thanks guys for camping in the run, I probably would not have fished like that without you. Thursday evening was the highlight of the trip for me, as the march browns decided to come down for the evening. There was much action the last hour of daylight. First the small fish rose, then there was a small pause, then the big boys came out. The last three fish were: a 10 inch smallie, then a 16 inch brown followed by another 16 inch brown. The browns both had big shoulders and put up a great fight. I had strikes often as the light faded and missed a bunch of other fish because it was just too dark to see. Now that's what I came for!

The second adjustment I made was to tie a sz 16 soft hackle on a sz 14 hook and leave some metal hanging out the back side of the hook. This helped me hook those short strike fish I was missing yesterday. Much better!

On Friday my legs and back let me know on no uncertain terms that it was a good day to take it easy, so I fished for brookies during the day and wound up back at Coburn at 530 pm. I sat down at the junction of Penns and Elk and thought to myself, "give me a reason to fish". A minute later there was a splashy rise 10 feet in front of me, so I got up, waded upstream and started swinging down to the fish. It took 3 casts to get the distance right and it was fish on, a nice foot long brown that whacked the soft hackle. Then I went farther downstream to find a flat stretch for the evening rise. There was some activity as the light began to fade, and I put on a hen and flash to swing until the fish started rising. Well the soft hackle got whacked early and often, as I took about a half dozen fish that way. There were some risers but not that many. The last fish of the evening was a nice 16 inch Rainbow that slurped a march brown parachute.

Saturday I went to Poe Paddy early to try that stretch. As I hiked upstream around 11 am there were rises on the far bank and some caddis flying about. I tried dries but ended up using soft hackles again to nail the fish. I worked down hitting all the pocket water, with good action. I hiked upstream a bit for the evening, still fishing the pocket water and getting more fish. Again the last hour there was lots of action, though the fish were a bit more fussy than the previous two days. I never did figure out what they were eating, but about 1 out of 3 would take the soft hackle, which was plenty of action for me. I tried rusty spinners but they were not having it.

Sunday was Mothers Day so I packed it in early and headed for home. What an awesome trip! My top producing flies were hen and flash soft hackle, soft hackle pheasant tail (both with bead and without), March Brown parachute, and Missing Link Caddis parachute. The pocket water action was amazing!


Great report - sounds like an awesome trip! I'm heading there at the end of the month and from a lot of my research Penns can be a heartbreaking confidence smashing bitch of a river. If that's true, that must have made this trip extra special! Will have to tie up some more soft hackles before our trip... do you typically swing one or two (or more) wet flies?

Glad you had an awesome trip!

- Tom
Hey Tom - I was swinging one fly in the evening (after 630 pm) and during the day I would swing 2. The first fly would usually be a bead head to get the flies down just a little, and the second fly would be unweighted. I was very surprised the hen-and-flash was working so well. It was tied on a Tiemco 200R sz 14/16 and it was a rather long, gaudy fly. But they ate it, and that is what counts. They were shredding the mylar good. I will see if I can get a pic for you.

Also, as mentioned tie them a little short on the hook, that seemed to increase hookups a lot.

And my failures on Penns greatly outnumber my successes. It blows out easily and stays dirty forever. I hope the rain holds off for your end of the month trip, if not you can hit Spring.
I've been fishing soft hackles the past several years with good success. You can't fish them wrong, they work on the swing, dead drift on the bottom or in the film. Glad you had a good trip.
Thirsty here ya go...

Hen hackle, peacock crystal flash body, peacock under the hackle. The peacock was in a ball but came undone. This fly was in a few fish's mouths.


Pheasant tail soft hackle, with bead and unweighted. Notice the room at the bottom. The got beat up a little from all the attention.

Thank you Beebs! Definitely gonna tie some up soon..I'll post a pic up of the flies I tied after my trip...they won't have a single tooth mark on em haha