“Wet Flies 101” at the 2016 Arts of the Angler show

The Arts of the Angler is a terrific regional show hosted by my friends at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum. It’s a weekend affair, and it happens this year on November 5th & 6th at the Ethan Allan Inn in Danbury, CT.

This year, I’ll be tying and presenting “Wet Flies 101” on Saturday afternoon, November 5th at 3pm in Room 1. I have a hectic morning, so I’ll be tying as soon as I am able, but it won’t be until 1pm or later. My Sunday is still up in the air — I may be tying on Sunday, too. I’ll update you with that information if it happens. Come out and support the museum, and of course please stop by and say hello.

Here’s the current presentation schedule (I am not responsible for changes):

Saturday, 11/5


Midnight on the Water in Rhode Island

No sightings of the ocean’s daughter. But I did spend some time watching a small pod of stripers move and feed on the tide change. We’ll get to that in a minute.

In the space of three hours, I managed to fish: skinny water on the incoming and outgoing; under a bridge (I love shadow lines at night); the inside of a salt pond; an estuary on a ripping incoming tide; and a snotty beachfront from a jetty. I fished hard and I fished well, and I dearly wish I could tell you that I slayed ’em, but all I could manage was one dink and a few courtesy bumps.

The outside beach continues to vex me. Conditions off the jetty last night were just about perfect:  a good SSW breeze, substantial breakers, surging whitewater wash. But no predators. This particular spot is a serial disappointment; it used to be an I-need-to-catch-a-striper-so-I’ll-fish-here destination. 2016 makes it 4 consecutive years I’ve blanked at it.

The bridge, the estuary, and the salt pond were good places to fish if you wanted to hook weeds. I did not want to, but managed a prodigious haul of vegetal flotsam.

My only bass came on my second cast of the evening on the incoming. After, I drove around to explore the other places, then spent the last hour alternately casting to and watching a small pod of school bass drift into position at the turn of the tide (it was easy to see them in the bright moonlight). But the bait wasn’t there in any volume, and the stripers didn’t bother to stick around.

And once the clock hit the wee small hours, neither did I.

There. That’s what I’m talking about. Failed experiment in night photography aside, that whitewater wash bottom center is prime real estate for casting your fly. The jetty allows you to fish into the pocket formed by the rocks and sand, not to mention a good parallel shot to the trough just off the beach. When the bass are in there, you find yourself in tight line territory pretty fast.


Hammonasset Chapter TU awarded the Order of the Meaty Pie (and a striper report)

When they serve pizza at events at my kids’ school, it’s always cheese. Plain, boring, dull cheese. Dairy rubber on flatbread. Now, the fine folks at the Hammonasset Chapter of TU know how to do pizza. The pies last night were so meat-ladenly delicious, I thought my mouth had died and gone to bacon/pepperoni/sausage/meatball heaven. And of course, a fed presenter  is a happy presenter. So, thank you for the hospitality, and thanks for the engaging post-presentation (“The Little Things”) Q&A/discussion. (Bonus: great to see so many familiar faces!)

Afterwards, I went on a little striper expedition to some (for me) uncharted waters. Didn’t like the moon (waxing gibbous), didn’t like the wind (cold front coming, northwest at 10 mph), didn’t like the walk (quite a hike through the woods), but loved the water. A classic funnel with outgoing tide recklessly hurtling to the sea. There were silversides and peanuts, and sadly, precious few predators. Three of us fished two hours to catch a single striper and a lonely shad. But we brought some beer, and I think that helped.

I don’t usually share prototypes, but this sparse soft hackle is a work in progress. It’s based on a peanut bunker bucktail pattern. I think I will add a sparse, flared bucktail throat. It accounted for last night’s shad. Really like the colors and energy of this fly.


Thank you, Mianus Chapter TU

A heartfelt shout out to my friends at Mianus TU for hosting me last night. Good crowd, lots of familiar faces, and a very positive energy in the room made the evening a success. I’m really liking how “The Little Things 2.0” is being received, and it’s a fun presentation for me to make.

My favorite question was, “When are you going to do some more tying videos?” The answer is yes. Keep on bugging me. Sooner or later I will bow to the pressure.

See you tomorrow night, Thursday, October 13, 6:30pm at the Hammonasset Chapter TU, “The Little Things 1.0”. The original “Little Things” presentation, packed with tips, tricks, and strategies to help you catch more fish. Quinnipiac Watershed Association Building, 540 Oregon Road, Meriden, CT. For more information and directions, visit hctu.org.

Remember, don’t be a meatball. Red light at night.


A striper skunking, appearances, and a rain miss

Last night I fished a spot in Connecticut that, upon further reflection, is having me believe that I’m Einstein insane. It should hold fish. Others have told me they’ve caught fish there. Nonetheless, every time I’ve fished it over the last three years, I’ve blanked. As in not a touch. On the plus side, I had a lovely walk through a salt marsh. And I bombed out some perfect laser shots with my switch rod. But would it be too much to ask for some players? No cigar, as we’re still healing after last week’s oral surgery.

Two appearances this week:  Tuesday, October 11, 7pm: Mianus Chapter TU, “The Little Things 2.0” Waveny House, New Canaan, CT. For more information and directions, visit mianustu.org.

Thursday, October 13: Hammonasset Chapter TU, “The Little Things 1.0” (pretty sure we settled on this — I’ll update if incorrect). Quinnipiac Watershed Association Building, 540 Oregon Road, Meriden, CT. For more information and directions, visit hctu.org.

Finally, the weather. Today’s rain was great for my yard — or any stream in eastern, central, or southern Connecticut. Unfortunately, it almost completely missed the northwestern end of the state — so we’re still talking rock gardens on the Farmington and Hous. Bleah.

Time to fire up the steelhead end of the tying bench.




The (un)importance of casting

Q: How can you tell you’re on a saltwater fly fishing-based forum?

A: When someone asks about a trout rod, and 90% of the answers focus on rods vis casting and distance rather than presentation.

If you are a long-time reader of currentseams, you will no doubt recall seeing one of my favorite Ray Bergman quotes. For those of you who missed it, its thesis is that it is far more important to be a good angler (leads to presentation acumen) than it is to be a good caster.

I will be the first to tell you that one reason I bought my 10′ 5-weight Hardy Marksman2 was that I could bomb out a 75-foot cast with it. But I’ll also tell you that that distance accounts for 1% of the casts I make on the Farmington every year.

Both casting and presentation are important. But one will deliver the keys to the kingdom much sooner.

This fish was hooked less than a couple rod-lengths away.

Brown release

Four things striper anglers could learn from wet fly anglers.

Wednesday night I fished for stripers in the kind of water that I love: current, structure, and bass feeding on station. The bait was silversides, and the stripers had them cornered. All the predators had to do was wait for the meal to come to them. I did very well; the spinning guy to my right with the plug did poorly (wrong presentation, wrong size lure) and the guy to my left with the intermediate line and the stripped sinking fly did poorly (wrong presentation, fishing in the wrong part of the water column) as well.

After they left, I started thinking about how I approached the situation. I realized that all I had been doing was fishing wet flies. If more striper anglers applied wet fly principles to their fishing, they would surely catch more bass. Here’s where anglers using wet fly tactics have an unfair advantage:

Wet fly anglers know that they can master the current with a floating line. The simple act of mending slows the swing of the fly to a speed that is far more agreeable to fish — especially those unwilling to chase. By casting to the outer edges of the bait ball, and mending, I was able to make my flies swim along its periphery, moving at the same pace as the naturals.

Wet fly anglers know the value of sparse, impressionistic, unweighted patterns. The Partridge and Orange. The Starling and Herl. The Pale Watery Wingless. None of them look exactly like what they’re supposed to imitate. None of them are bulky. But they can be fished anywhere in the water column, particularly just below the surface where the fish are feeding. The flies I was fishing looked and did likewise.

Wet fly anglers know that droppers are the fastest way to find out what the fish want. I was fishing a team of three. Top dropper was an Orange Ruthless. Middle dropper was The Tick (small isopod/crab larva/shrimp). Point was a September Night or a Morning Glory. The bass eagerly took the top dropper and point flies. And I was covered in case they switched to something small.

Wet fly anglers know that sometimes the best retrieve is no retrieve. I’m lazy. So are predators. I didn’t catch any fish on the stripped fly. It was all on the swing, mended swing, or dangle. Explosive hits generated by fish feeding in confidence. Why would a fish chase bait when it is being delivered to them by the current?

Where’s the beef? Nowhere on this sparse, impressionistic single-feather flatwing, the Morning Glory. (You can find the recipe by doing an internet search for “Morning Glory striper fly”.)