Humphreys uses two nymphs with the upper on a small snap swivel. Split shot spaced along the tippet between the nymphs and an 8 to 10 foot leader ensure that the lure sinks. He constantly adjusts the distance between the nymphs and shot to meet varying water depths.
He favored black sculpins for the fast, muddy flood waters, with humpies and beetles that float with high profiles as good alternatives. In the limestone streams, he uses scuds, shrimp, and cress bugs or sow bugs.
Facing unusually high water, Humphreys fished along the drowned banks, letting his lure swing into eddies and backwaters. He worked the sides, edges, and velocity changes, rarely making overhead casts. Instead, he used a quick, accurate flick of his wrist.
“Casting is not always advantageous,” he said as he twitched his rod tip back and forth behind his hip then threw a modified rollcast, sailing the sculpin under a screen of branches. For the retrieve, he held his rod tip down and at a right angle to the line, enabling him to work the lure deeper and set the hook more efficiently.
Humphreys was born and raised in Central Pennsylvania and was mentored by George Harvey, founder of Penn State’s angling program. He started fishing professionally in 1970, is a three-time member of the US Fly Fishing Team, and received the prestigious Thompson Award for his work preserving Spring Creek.
Because there is so much quality fishing available, Centre County has become legendary. But, when you go there to fish, don’t bring any preconceived ideas, advises Humphreys. Rather, look for the local knowledge. “There are miles and miles of public and state waters,” he said. “A guide can take you to some honey holes.”
“To catch a fish in this scenery is top drawer,” he continued and pointed to Penns Creek, Spring Creek, Fishing Creek, Little Juniata, and Spruce Creek as productive venues. Spring Creek and Fishing Creek are not stocked and have healthy populations of native browns.
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