A quick, fun read from the archives, and judging from comments over the years, one of my more popular essays. Enjoy, and see you tonight.
We’re keeping the Currentseams Tuesday Night Zoom ball rolling. I’ll be talking about some of the fly fishing books, old and new, that had a major impact on me, from how I fish to my general fly fishing philosophy. Autodidacts like me just can’t get enough of a good read, and I hope to turn you on to some books you might find invaluable. See you Tuesday Night!
I got a late start and had to run a few errands, so I didn’t get to the river until noon. I fished above and within the Permanent TMA. I made the decision to look for unpopular winter water, and so I had three marks all to myself. The river was up a tad from last week (400cfs) and we had a few snow showers. Observed: midges and Winter/Summer caddis, although not many of either. The method was tight line\small jig streamer. I only had one take, and I missed the fish; it was a very subtle pause, and I didn’t even get a head shake into the bargain. Wow, where did the time go? Reluctantly, I left to tend to responsibilities that were far less fun than tracking a drift through a fishy-looking run.
It’s beginning to look a lot like winter.
I was a little disappointed with the number of people who showed up for the most recent Tuesday night Zoom. Not from an ego standpoint. But rather from one of “we need this now more than ever.” One interpretation of the lower turnout would be that people already know C&R best practices. A casual scroll though Internet forums and social media shows this is far from the case: fish being held with dry hands. Striped bass (a stressed stock, remember?) being hefted vertically from their lips or laid onto boat decks. Wild brook trout being landed and photographed on rocks and twigs.
So please. Learn and practice safe catch and release principles: Barbless hooks. Land fish fast. Keep handling to a minimum and then only handle with wet hands. Ask yourself, “Do I really need a photo of that fish?” Keep fish totally submerged in your net, in current if possible, until you’re ready to shoot. For pics, it’s 1-2-3-lift-shoot. Then back into the net. (Ideal shot, we see water dripping from your hands and from the fish.) Consider underwater photography where the fish never leaves the water. Revive the fish if needed before release.
I know most of my readers already know this. I thank you. The fish thank you. The next angler who catches that fish thanks you. Please share this information with others as you see fit. And here’s a great catch-and-release best practices resource: keepfishwet.org.
By popular demand, I’m doing a second winter fly tying pay-per-Zoom event on Saturday, January 30 at 1pm. Like the first, this will be about 90 minutes of fly tying/tie-along instruction. The cost is $10. To “register,” you send 10 bucks to me at PayPal (ID is email@example.com) and I’ll send you the link to the meeting. Tying Wingless and Winged Wets will cover some basic, useful patterns. Again, the focus is on template and technique. You should have different color threads, different hooks, tools, etc. You should have at least one hen hackle/hen cape — Whiting makes a good basic hen hackle. The “right” color is not critical, but if you want to go all in you should have light or dark grey, light ginger, and brown. The point is, if you don’t have a specific color hackle, you can find it later. Questions? You know where to find me.
Many of you will want a complete materials list, so let’s plan on three patterns: Dark Hendrickson Winged Wet (Hook: 2x strong wet fly size 12 Thread: Grey Tail: Dark blue dun hackle fibers Body: Muskrat fur (any grey dubbing works) Hackle: Dark blue dun hen Wing: Lemon wood duck (mallard flank can be used in a pinch); Pale Water Wingless AKA The Magic Fly (Hook: 1x fine, size 16-20. Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk, primrose yellow (you can use regular yellow thread) Hackle: Light ginger hen Tail: Light ginger hen hackle fibers
Body: Rabbit fur, color to match the natural; and Brown or Red Hackle (Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-14 Silk: Crimson or claret Hackle: Red furnace (brown is fine, even grey) Rib: Narrow gold tinsel Body: Bronze peacock herl). Like last time I’ll answer questions and you can pick my brain.
Stuff like this. Yeah. I can already feel the tug…
We’re back with another Tuesday Night Zoom, baby! Proper catch-and-release principles and technique is a subject we should all be taking seriously. Yes, fishing is ultimately a blood sport, but there are ways to hook, land, photograph, and release fish before they know what hit them. Join me tomorrow night and we’ll talk about it. If you’re not already on my Currentseams Zoom email list, send me a request at firstname.lastname@example.org. Link goes out Tuesday late afternoon. Check your spam box if you don’t get it.
Many thanks to those who attended yesterday’s class, Tying The The Soft-Hackled Fly. Good group, good questions, and we made it through a few minor technical glitches in fine form. I was very pleased with the new camera for the closeup tying action — it was exponentially better than the stock cam on my Mac laptop. There will be another class, very likely on Saturday January 30th, 1pm, Tying Wingless & Winged Wet Flies. I’ll formally announce that class in a couple days. There will also be a Tuesday Night Zoom this week — check out the site tomorrow for the topic. Enjoy your Sunday — you deserve it!
Yesterday’s question of the day was, “What soft hackle can I tie that I can fish right now?” My answer was this, the last fly we tied, the Starling and Herl. Perfect for the top dropper on your nymph rig. This is a size 14; I’d go with a 16-18, and especially a size 18 2x short scud hook. It’s a great match for all the tiny bugs that are prevalent on our cold northeast rivers right now. Make your body more durable by making a herl rope; you can see that technique in my video for the Drowned Ant Soft Hackle.
Thanks to everyone who signed up for Tying The soft-Hackled Fly! If you want to join us at 1pm, there’s still time to sign up. If you’re already paid, you should have received an email from me with the Zoom link last night. If you didn’t get it, please send me an email ASAP and I’ll get the information to you. See you at 1pm.
Yesterday I fished with Toby Lapinski, a long overdue payback for all the striper outings he treated me to this fall. We decided to go for big instead of numbers, so streamers it was. We started in the Permanent TMA, although we first bounced around looking for a mark that didn’t have the equivalent angler population of Manhattan. (Hint: stay away from the big name pools.) Conditions were perfect for winter streamers: 325cfs, clear, no slush ice, 40 degree air temp and overcast with occasional mists and drizzle.
Rule one of winter streamer fishing: find the fish that want to eat. We decided to mix it up at the first mark. I was long-leader-tight line small black jig streamer in faster water; Toby was traditional fly line with a white jig streamer in slower, deeper stuff. I blanked, but Toby scored a big, bad brown. You can’t see it in the photo, but that’s just over 20″ of trutta buttah. Awesome trout. Observed: a modest midge hatch and trout rising to them in the frog water. We started with the place all to ourselves; by the time we left, there were five other anglers.
Although anglers were seemingly everywhere, we had the second mark all to ourselves. Oh. This guy was there, too. He was hanging out in some faster water and hit on the drop as the streamer was jigged downstream. I missed him on that first take, but fortunately I didn’t deviate from the presentation, and he came right back and struck on the drop again. Here’s to second chances! Great photo by Toby. I had one more hit on the jig, then I switched over to a traditional streamer winter streamer setup: full sink tip line and short leader with a weighted fly (Coffey Sparkle Minnow).
Winter fishing requires attention to detail. If you’re not ready, you might miss it. Here’s a hawk-eyed Toby focusing on his sighter. I had one little bump on the Sparkle Minnow, then we moved to the third mark. Only one angler there, but he left after 5 minutes and again we had a long section of river all to ourselves. I managed a fine 13″ wild brown and then we called it a (victorious) day. We fished from 11:30am-4:00pm, and I was grateful for the time spent on the water, the action, and the good company.
Another fun Tuesday Night Currentseams Zoom last night! In case you missed it, we talked about winter fly fishing, from gearing up to dressing to when, where, and how. There will be more of these public Zooms throughout the winter. Thanks to the 50+ attendees for hanging out with me for an hour.
I’ve also seen a spike in Currentseams subscribers since the holidays and I’d like to say welcome. I appreciate your readership, and going forward I’ll try to provide you with far better fly fishing content than today’s material. But this is a writing day, and so I must take fingers to keyboard lest my editor jump ugly upon my personage. And with that, off I go.
Warning: Fly Fishing Writer At Work.