Presenting “The Little Things” in Coventry, RI, Weds. Sept. 30

You are cordially invited to attend my “The Little Things” Presentation to TU Narragansett 225, Wednesday, September 30, Elks lodge, Coventry, RI. For directions and times, visit

Little Things

Here’s the presentation description:

They say that 10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish. If that’s true, it’s not because those 10% are supernaturally gifted angling demigods. It’s not because they are lucky. It’s because they do a lot of little things that other anglers don’t. As a guide, I have the opportunity to observe how people fish. I see their mistakes as well as their triumphs. When I’m fishing, I am constantly making adjustments and trying new approaches. That’s what The Little Things is all about – seemingly minor factors that can make a big difference in your fishing.

Hope to see you there.

Upcoming dates: 

“The Little Things” Presentation to TU Mianus, Tuesday, October 13, Waveny Mansion, New Canaan, CT. For directions and times, visit

“The Little Things” Presentation to TU Farmington Valley, Thursday, October 15, (I believe it’s at the Whinstone Tavern at Stanley Golf Course, New Britain, CT). For directions and times, visit

Farmington River Report: A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Since I couldn’t make up my mind yesterday whether to stay home and work or go fishing, I decided to do both. Fishing first. A man must, after all, set his priorities.

The first hour I did a little exploring on the lower river. This was a section I’d never fished before. It was either impressively deep or painfully shallow. Lots of holes and oxygenated riffles and other things trout like. I’m filing this spot away for future reference.

In the course of my travels, I came across old friend BRK TRT. Alan was casting to some delicate risers in some slow-moving water. We chatted about small streams for a bit (if you haven’t, check out Alan’s site Smallstreamreflections), then I went off to swing some streamers and do a little nymphing. The sun was warm. The air crisp. The river cool.

It most definitely did not suck.

A recent ward of the state that found an olive Zoo Cougar (fished with a floating line and a BB shot at the head of the fly) to his liking. Not bad for a hatchery brown. His spots almost look airbrushed.

Stocked Farmy brown


Alan declares his passion in no uncertain terms.


The Hi-Liter Soft-Hackled Streamer

I’m gotten a lot of requests to do a video on my soft-hackled streamers, so here you go with the Hi-Liter.

Hook: 4XL streamer, size 6
Thread: Chartreuse
Bead: Spirit River Hot Bead 3/16″ Chartreuse, seated with .010 wire
Tail: Hot or fluorescent pink marabou over 8 strands pink Krystal flash
Body: Pearl braid
Wing: 8 strands pink Krystal flash to mid-point of tail
Hackle: 4 turns chartreuse marabou blood quill

The following content draws from my original post on the Hi-Liter:

It was the mid 1980s. I’d just landed that coveted first job as a junior copywriter at a mid-sized Connecticut advertising agency. Every job that came across my desk included a creative brief: the background, current situation, brand essence, single most important thought, and support points for what I’d ultimately be creating. I’d pore over the brief with the eagerness of the cub writer I was. But then, I’d want that brief to be even briefer. So I’d reach into my drawer and pull out a highlighter marker. Usually bright green or fluorescent yellow. Sometimes pink. When I was done, that brief would be focused on the essentials. I could see at a glance what was really important.

That’s the energy behind the Hi-Liter streamer.

The moment it hits the water, trout can see what the most important object in the pool is. It’s that thing. That bright, moving, flowing thing. Can’t miss it. There it is. Never seen a baitfish in those colors. But oh, look how it moves and pulses and flashes. The heck with those little black stones. I want that thing. Now. Better eat it before it gets away.

I’d like to tell you that I thought long and hard about the Hi-Liter, and that I field tested it for months. But the truth is that I made it up on the spur of the moment several years ago just hours before I stepped into the river. The trout liked it that day. And they still do.

The Hi-Liter. It looks substantial here, but it casts small, and slims down dramatically in the water. 

HiLiter studio


A wallflower this streamer is not. Subtlety escapes it. See how the colors pop against muted earth tones? I love the Hi-Liter on bright, sunny days.


All wet. My original prototype from years ago.

Highlighter Streamer

Tying notes: With the bead head and the wire seating, the fly will ride hook point up. The weight addition is subtle; this is not intended as a “carpet bomb the bottom” fly. For a more traditional style streamer, skip the bead and the wire. Besides the marking pen reference, the original color scheme draws from the extensive use of chartreuse and pink in striper files. I also tie this fly with a fluorescent yellow or chartreuse tail, and a white hackle. Try not to over-dress the fly; you want the hackle to act as a veil, creating a translucent effect against the body.


The Hi-Liter Rogues’ Gallery:

Farmington River someteen-inch brown, 3/13/15

16%22 late winter brown


Farmington River, 1/21/15

Streamer Brown 1:15


Farmington River, 12/19/17



“Ten Things Every Beginning Steelheader Should Know” in the October issue of MAFFG

The October 2015 issue of Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide is out, and with it the latest article from the currentseams wordworks. I had a lot of fun with “Ten Things Every Beginning Steelheader Should Know,” and it mixes humor with practical advice. Worth seeking out if you can find it.

The Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide is distributed free at fly shops or available by subscription. It is an underrated gem.

October 2015 MAFFG


Cam is still a beginning steelheader, but he does a lot of things right. For example…

Steel Cam 11-24-214

Farmington River Report: Low and slow

That would describe both the river and the fishing. I was on the water yesterday from 9am-2pm. I skipped the permanent TMA and visited the Lower River and some water up in New Hartford and then Riverton way.

Nymphed in five locations. Blank. A mix of deep runs and swift riffles. Tried big (sz 8 stonefly in a run whose stream side rocks were covered with shucks) and small (tiny SHPTs) and in-between. I did catch a very nice stick.

It wasn’t until I switched over to a bright yellow streamer that I saw any action. And even that was spotty as I blanked in two of the three pools I fished.

Current conditions: water is 135cfs in the permanent TMA and barely 200 in the lower river. The water was slightly off-color yesterday, although it felt cold enough everywhere I went.

If you have plans to head out this weekend, this report should not discourage you; I was very likely fishing at the wrong time (middle of the day, bright sun, hot air, low flows) and simply had bad luck with the nymphing. The trout should be gathered in the deeper pools and faster, oxygenated water. I did see some fish rising in some classic dry fly water, but I was too lazy to switch out leaders. Caddis, midges, and a few stray Light Cahill-type mayflies.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have swung wets — and followed my own advice about crickets. 🙂

Not yesterday. 

Icy guide

A few courtesy bumps. Thank you for playing.

The t-shirt would read, “I slogged all over the Farmington River for three hours in the dark, and all I got was a handful of small hits.”

Maybe it was the weather change. Maybe it was the slight stain in the water from the rains. Maybe the DEEP pulled all the big fish out for breeding. Maybe it just wasn’t my night.

After outings like this, I tell myself this is the price you pay for those off-the-charts nights where you get two dozen bumps and three or four quality fish.

Truthfully, it was worth it alone for starting off in the rain and finishing under starlight, watching my smoke rings drift off into the cool blackness of the night.

Wherefore art thou?

Big wild brown hen 8-2015

300 Followers Contest Swag

I’ve already posted the striper flies that Grand Prize winner Ray Hamilton chose. Here are the trout streamers won by our 2nd and 3rd place contestants:

(starting from the left row, bottom to top) Culton’s Hi-Liter, German’s White Nightmare, Culton’s Deep Threat (brown/orange), Culton’s Deep threat (grey/olive) Culton’s Mickey Finn Soft Hackle, Galloup’s Zoo Cougar. One of each for both of you.

300th Trout Streamers

I hope to have these out tomorrow. Tight lines, gents.

Tip of the week: black crickets

The last two times I’ve cut the lawn (today included) I’ve noticed an abundance of black crickets milling about. I would think a black cricket fished dry or wet would draw a lot of attention if it were drifted or swung along a grassy bank.

Something like this: braid or dubbed body. palmered soft hackle, deer hair wing/caddis-style head, only all black. Size 8-12.


The Stripers Forever Release A Breeder Club

The Stripers Forever Release A Breeder Club encourages anglers to practice catch-and-release for striped bass of breeding age and size. To become a member, you need to catch and release a striped bass of at least 36″ (about a 20-pound fish) and provide a photo or a witness.

While club membership admittedly walks the line of narcissism, I am pleased to say I’m now a two-time member. But, let’s give credit where credit is due: this year I was simply in the right place at the right time. Still, I’ll take it. There is precious little in fishing that matches the brutish power of a twenty-pound ocean-going bass in four feet of water.

I’ve been certified.

Stripers Forever Release A Breeder Club


Today’s word is: “shoulders.” Can you say “shoulders?” Sure. I knew you could. This isn’t the winning fish, but it’s still a good one.  

Block Island All-Nighter first keeper

Stripers Forever is a non-profit, internet-based conservation organization that advocates for the conservation and responsible stewardship of wild striped bass along the Atlantic Coast. They seek game fish status for wild striped bass on the Atlantic Coast. You can find out more about Stripers Forever and the Release A Breeder Club here.

DEEP Farmington River Sampling scheduled for September 9, 10, 11

This comes from Neal Hagstrom of the DEEP:

Just a heads up for everyone. The DEEP will be sampling the River Sept 9-11th. We will be working from Barkhamsted downstream.

On the 9th Hogback Road, around the Campground, and possibly the drive-in Pool.

On the 10th Halford’s Run, and the Greenwoods – the big brood stock collections at the Wood Shop that pm.

On the 11th Ovation and above Satan’s Kingdom. We hope to get flows restored mid-day on the 11th. 

This assumes that mother nature cooperates and no rain limits our work. Angler’s cooperation on clearing the river during these activities is greatly appreciated because your safety is a primary concern and people in the water affect the efficiency of our operation. 

As always, all broodstock will be returned to the river in early December after they complete their recovery from spawning.

If there are questions I can be reached at the Marlborough Fisheries Office 860-424-4179



In case you are unaware, the MDC draws down the flow from the Hogback dam in early September so DEEP and volunteer crews can take their fish census and gather brood stock browns for their Survivor Strain program. As Neal mentioned, it is best to stay clear of the crews while they are working. That doesn’t mean you can’t go fishing elsewhere on the river. However, given the recent stretch of unusually hot weather and a forecast that calls for more of the same, I would suggest that it might be prudent to give the trout a break.

If you’ve never been on a sampling, it’s a fascinating experience. Anyone can volunteer by contacting the DEEP.

Tip of the week: visit the river while the water is way down. Note where the truly deeper holes are. Bank that information for future withdrawals.

A brood stock brown that was captured and bred in fall, 2012, (red elastomer left eye) then returned to the river in December of that year. I caught her in April of 2013. I wonder how many of her kids I’ve crossed paths with?

Big Survivor Strain brown hen