Douglas Thompson talks. The American Fisheries Society listens — and responds.

“The Cost of Trout Fishing,” a recent op-ed piece by Douglas Thompson in the New York Times (Thompson 2015), included several inaccurate statements and fundamental misunderstandings of fisheries management and aquaculture.

Those words are taken from an article recently published by the AFS. Here’s a pdf of the entire article. Note a source citing  some of our own DEEP folks.

AFS Responds to an Op-ed in the New York Times 2015-2

A beautiful winter Survivor Strain brown. Thanks, DEEP, for your excellent work on the Farmington River.

2:14 SS Brown

The Squirrel and Ginger Caddis Emerger tying video

When it comes to soft-hackles, feathers get all the juice. That’s perfectly understandable. But certain furs – like fox squirrel – make excellent hackling material. The results are often deliciously buggy.

Such is the case with the Squirrel and Ginger caddis emerger. This humble creation is something I made up a few summers ago. I took the Ginger Caddis Larva fuzzy nymph and swapped out the standard wet fly hook for a scud hook. Added a flashy rib. And replaced the rabbit fur thorax with a hackle of fox squirrel.

The first time I fished this fly was on a brilliant July day that was devoid of hatch activity or rising fish. The sun was high, the air was steamy, and felt a little foolish for making the drive to the Farmington. Until I started hooking fish after fish on this little caddis emerger. It was the middle fly in a team of three, and the trout stated in no uncertain terms that this was their favorite.

The Squirrel and Ginger is a fine introduction to fur-hackled flies. It is fairly easy to tie. Best of all, it’s a wet fly you can have confidence in.

Hook: TMC 2457 (2x strong, 2x wide, 2x short scud) size 12
Thread: Orange or hot orange
Body: Ginger Angora goat
Rib: Green Krystal flash
Hackle: Fox squirrel fur

The Squirrel and Ginger Rogues’ Gallery

7/8/13, Farmington River

Brown Buck 7:8:13

4/24/13, Farmington River

Bigbrown hen

7/31/13, wild brown, Farmington River

WIld Farmy Brown 7:13

4/29/15, 17″ holdover brown, Farmington River

Fat Farmy Hen 4:15

10/8/19, 20″ holdover brown, Housatonic River



How to built a wet fly leader for a team of three flies

One of the most frequent questions I get is, “How do you build a wet fly leader?” This material originally appeared in my article “Wet Fly 101: Take the ancient and traditional path to subsurface success” (American Angler Nov/Dec 2013) but I wanted to give it its own place here on currentseams.

At first glance, building a multi-fly dropper rig looks complicated. But basically, you’re just tying three triple surgeon’s knots. You’ll need a 9-foot, 3x or 4x tapered leader for the butt section, and some 4 or 6-pound Maxima (I prefer Chameleon [AUTHOR’S NOTE: I used UltraGreen four-pound in 2014 and it worked just as well as Chameleon]) for the droppers. I’ve tried a lot of different leader materials, and Maxima is by far the best because of its stiffness. I use the 4-pound in lower, clearer flows. 

Wet Fly Three FLy team

Here’s a pdf of the diagram: Three-fly wet fly leader

Step 1: Cut off the bottom three feet of the tapered leader. Discard this bottom section.

Step 2: Knots are not worthy of your trust. Wet every knot before you pull it tight, and test every knot by giving it a good tug. The heat of battle with a trophy trout is a bad time to discover you tied a substandard knot.

Step 3: Tie just over a foot of Maxima to the tapered leader with a triple surgeon’s knot. The bottom of this section will form the first dropper. Trim both tag ends.

Step 4: The ideal length between wet flies is somewhere between 18 and 24 inches; I prefer my dropper tags between 4 and 6 inches. If you’re going to build a dropper rig with the flies 24 inches apart and the tags 6 inches long, you’ll need a 30-inch section (24 + 6 = 30) of Maxima for the next step.

Step 5: Take the first, shorter section of Maxima (the one you tied to the tapered leader) and hold it 6 inches from the end. This will be your first dropper. Join the 30-inch section to the shorter section at this point with a triple surgeon’s knot.

Step 6: Trim the excess of the second section above the knot (the part you trim is on the butt side of the leader). You should now have a dropper tag about 6 inches long, pointing away from the butt, and about 30 inches of Maxima below it.

Step 7: You’re in the home stretch. This is basically a repeat of step 5. Grab the second section of Maxima 6 inches from the end, and join another 30-inch section of Maxima to it with a triple surgeon’s knot. As with Step 6, trim the excess above the knot.

Step 8: You should now have a rig that looks like the one the diagram: two shorter tags, to which you’ll tie dropper flies, and a longer end section, to which you will tie the point fly.


Good things happen when you give the trout a choice.


Calling all readers: help me with some future Q&A videos

As we transition into fall, I will be trying to get off my video butt. One of the items I want to get back to is the “Currentseams Q&A” series. Here’s where you come in.

I need some input on questions and subjects you’d like answered. Fishing, tying, equipment — whatever’s on your mind. If you could take a few moments to respond in the comments section, I’d appreciate it. (Good fishing karma will be bestowed upon those who offer suggestions.) To be clear, I’m looking for input on questions to be answered — those could involve fly tying (“How do you double or fold a marabou hackle?”) or anything else related to our sport.

Thanks in advance.

Q: Is that a sculpin or a crayfish or a trout fry? A: Nope. 

Farmington River brown buck

Quote of the day: Casting vs. Fishing

If Ray Bergman came back today and saw the endless discussions about casting and distance on internet message boards, he would never stop throwing up.

Bergman knew that it was more important to be a good angler than a good caster. Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive. And it is true that it’s hard to be a good angler if you are a poor caster. But I’ll let Ray take it from here. This is from his book Trout:

“That you cast so well that others compliment you for your skill is not so important, but that you handle the flies in some particular and almost indescribable way may be very important indeed. You may gather from this that I am not particularly interested in perfect-form casting, and that is very true…If you become a perfect-form caster while achieving the necessary results, so much the better; but it is best to concentrate on the other points, rather than on form, and the casting will usually take care of itself. In this connection let me say that some of the best fishermen I know could not be called “pretty” casters, but they do cast their flies so that they act the way they should and catch the fish.”

Fish don’t examine the tightness of your loops, your line speed, or how far you cast. This twenty-pound striper certainly didn’t.

Block Island All-Nighter 20 pounds

Tag Team Nymphing

I’ve been teaching Rob how to fly fish, and Friday afternoon we met for a quick indicator nymphing lesson. Even though Rob is completely new to the fly game, he landed a juvenile Atlantic salmon his first time out. Friday was our second session, and it was slow going. There wasn’t much (if any) visible hatch activity, and the water was slightly stained from the day’s earlier rains. Rob did great job casting, mending, and presenting.

Everyone learns differently, and after an hour Rob said he wanted to watch me fish. We were targeting a riffle that dumps into some deeper water, and as the two-fly rig completed the dead-drift phase, the flies began to swing up. The indicator went under, and I handed the rod off to Rob, who landed this fine wild brown.

Some substantial shoulders on this wild Farmington brown. You can just make out the faint parr remnants, and those haloed spots speak volumes about how lovely these fish can be. Taken on the bottom fly of a two-fly rig, a size 14 olive Iron Lotus.

wild Farmington River brown

Three — count ’em, three — hundred followers. Contest time!

Currentseams finally reached the big three-oh-oh. And I have you, loyal reader, to thank. We’ll be doing our usual flies-tied-by-Steve giveaway, only this time it will be three times better — because this time we’re going to have three winners!

One of the prizes will be one of each of the six striper soft-hackles I tied for my article in the next issue of American Angler. The other two will be a selection of trout or striper or steelhead flies. As they say in my kids’ school: “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

Striper Soft-Hackles

Here are the rules:

1) No purchase necessary.

2) You must be a follower of currentseams to enter.

3) To enter, leave a comment on this thread saying you wish to enter AND tell me a little about what you like about the site, or would like to see more of (this is my grassroots market research method). One entry per person. Deadline for entering is 11:59pm September 3, 2015. Three winners will be chosen at random. The winners will be notified in the comments section of this thread or by email, and will be responsible for sending me their address so I can ship the flies out.

4) All decisions by me are final.

Thanks again for reading and following currentseams.

Farmington River Report: I have 20. Do I hear 21?

Some fish are gifts. Others are earned.

I got a little of both on this one. Earned by putting in my time for the past six weeks, then slogging through woods and water for thirty minutes on a steamy water-pouring-down-your-face August night, dodging beavers and raccoons and who knows what else just to get to this bloody out-of-the-way spot. Then, gifted with a sharp tug just five minutes into the fishing.

Battle details: taken in water moving at a good walking pace. The hit came as the dead drift transitioned to the swing. Two sharp tugs, then hook set (it has been reaffirmed this summer that the big ones rarely miss if you let them finish the job). Once hooked, the fish sounded as is the habit of larger trout. The interior dimensions of my net are 17×13: It took multiple attempts to net him, including one botched swipe where aluminum rim collided with spotted flank in a manner it probably ought not. The fly was an olive over black Master Splinter foam-backed mouse.

For some reason, the walk out seemed quicker.

Fishin’, writin’, ‘n’ stuff

Busy is the word here at currentseams, although I have been able to get out a little bit. Due to my schedule it’s all been night action.

I fished the Farmington twice this week with mixed results. The first night was painfully slow; two or three bumps in two hours, all small fish. Last night was far more active with over a dozen bumps. One standard-issue brown to net, and one big mysterious hit that failed to hold. I did do something stupid last night: I walked down a side stem I hadn’t fished in two years to discover it was basically unfishable, then decided to walk back up a different stem that was fast, deep, and should have been the one I fished. What a workout! It wasn’t a total waste of time as I did find some very fishy hide holes that I will investigate on a future outing.

On the writing front, I just submitted a steelhead piece to Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide, and I’m putting the finishing touches on a soft-hackled flies for stripers article for American Angler. There are a few other things in the pipeline at some other pubs; I’ll let you know if they are accepted.

Finally, currentseams has reached 300 followers. Hooray! That means a fly giveaway. Details on that coming soon.

As always, thank you for your loyal readership. Writers aren’t much without readers, so I truly appreciate it.

Come say hello to currentseams. I know it’s my site, but really, most of it doesn’t suck. While you’re here, sign up to follow. You’ll get fishing reports, how-to articles, essays, fly tying, photos, videos, random stuff like this, and the occasional chance to win some flies tied by yours truly. 


Hello, old friend

Spring began as a promise and summer as a dream. Winter would relent at some point (God, it was long and cold!) and the water temperature would rise a few precious degrees and the stripers would begin to stir. We’d have the spring run – or not, as it turned out – but at least the sun would be warm on your face and you could feel your fingers and you would feel alive standing in the brackish water as it raced past your feet to meet the sea.

The herring would be in in a few weeks – or not, as it turned out – and with them would come the big bass (see previous “or not” statements). Worms would hatch, and anglers would mutter about picky fish, but all would be as it should. After that would come summer and sand eels and silvery Block Island bass covered in sea lice and eager to act twice their size. It all happened, and it was extraordinary, as each year is in its own way.

And now, it is fall.

The calendar won’t proclaim it so for another six weeks. Football is still in training camp. The warning track of meaningful September baseball is many strides away. But the first leaves have already fallen (you can find them in your yard right now). A few weeks ago your deck was in bright sunshine at 3pm. Now it’s in deep shade. The Dog Days (which have less to do with heat and humidity than with the position of Sirius, the Dog Star, relative to the sun) are nearly over. And so begins fall.

Last night I stood in a Cape Cod creek amid an assembled multitude of silversides. Against the far bank, stripers were feeding in earnest. They know it’s time to bulk up in preparation for that long journey home.

Welcome, old friend.

Don’t even get me started about steelhead. Big Steel 11:14