Take the Stripers Forever 2015 Angler Survey

The following (within quotes) is a cut-and-paste from  Stripers Forever:

“If you have not filled out your 2015 Angler Survey please do it right now.  We are going to stop taking responses on January 7. This survey is the largest and longest-running gauge of striped bass angler sentiment. It is important for fishery managers to know how the angling public perceives the quality of striped bass fishing. We’re using an online survey from SurveyMonkey to make it easy to complete. The link below will take you directly to the survey. It will only take you a couple of minutes to fill in and submit your answers.
Your input is more valuable than ever. Please take the time to take the survey; your response plays an important role in the protection of Striped Bass. The more completed surveys we receive the better. This year we’ve added an important new question to gauge your perception if the 2011 year class lives up to what is supposed to be the third largest year class in history.”
Who’s got her back?
Block Island All-Nighter first keeper

Trout Streamer Leaders for Floating and Full-Sink Lines

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “What’s your streamer leader formula?” The answer depends on two factors: the kind of line I’m using, and what I want the fly to do.

When I’m fishing streamers for trout, I fish two kinds of lines: either an integrated full-sink line or a floater. Let’s start with the full sink.


Here’s a pdf: Trout Streamer Leaders

I use the full sink mostly in winter. Sometimes I’ll use it during warmer weather if the river is running high. I choose the full sink when I want the line to help the fly get down; consequently, the leader is kept short, three feet or less. Anything over three feet and you begin to defeat the purpose of the full-sink line. Don’t worry about the fly being so close to that heavy, dark string — the last thing a predatory brown is focusing on is your line.

There are a few deep holes in the Farmington that I like to dredge in winter. Unfortunately, bottom structure — snags — is often part of the cost of admission to those lairs. That’s when I’ll use the lighter of the two sinking line leader systems, simply because it’s easier to break off the snag from hell.

As you can see, the floating line system is likewise simple. A standard-issue Ox or lx tapered leader does the job nicely. This is what I’ll use for the vast majority of my streamer fishing, or when I am fishing a big floating fly like a mouse pattern. I’ll add tippet material that matches the terminal end of the taper if the leader gets too short. I will also add tippet material if I want to get my fly down deeper. A floating line gives you the ability to mend, and consequently harness the power of the current or sink your fly. So, about 7 1/2 feet for most applications, and about 10 feet to help get the fly deep.

Big trout don’t care about that heavy black string snaking through the water ahead of your fly. Taken on a Deep Threat streamer and a full-sink line.



A floating line, a 7 1/2 foot leader, a presentation near the surface, and all is right in the streamer world.

Big wild brown hen 8-2015


Many thanks to CWTU and Orvis

What a great turnout last night, generated by the membership of Croton Watershed Trout Unlimited Chapter. It’s always easier — for me, at least — to present in front of a larger group. Thanks also to Orvis in Yonkers for the venue. There’s something comforting about giving a talk while surrounded by fly rods and reels.

Thus closeth my speaking engagements for 2015. If you took the time to come out and see me, thank you. I truly appreciate it. Lots more coming up in 2016, so stay tuned.

Here’s to you!

Block Island All-Nighter Wee Drop

Some new events for January 2016

Yes, it’s late enough in the present year to be able to mention next year without it seeming like a ridiculous number of months away. Ladies and gentlemen, start your calendars.

I will be making two presentations of “Wet Flies 101” at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, MA, Friday 1/22 and Saturday 1/23. More details once we get into January.

And a heads up: I will again be teaching “Wet Flies and Fuzzy Nymphs for the Farmington” on Saturday 1/30 at UpCountry Sportfishing. You cannot sign up for that tying class here, and you cannot sign up until they post it on their website. I’m just letting you know it’s coming. Last year’s class sold out in no time flat.

For those of you in the NYC/Fairfield County area, I will be at the Orvis store in Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers, NY, tomorrow night 12/17, presenting “The Little Things” to the TU Croton Watershed Chapter. You need to sign up to attend. For more information and directions, visit https://www.facebook.com/cwctu

What a fun job I have.

Soft hackles have been fooling trout for centuries — and the fish aren’t getting any smarter.

Partridge and Light Cahills

Farmington River Report 12/15/15: Low and slow

I really don’t like the river at this height (170cfs and falling in the the permanent TMA), especially in winter. Still, it’s hard to argue with air temperatures in the mid 50s in December. I bounced around to a bunch of spots today, switching between nymphs and streamers. Not a touch on the nymphs. The streamer thing was a little more interesting.

I had one solid bump (no hookup), bagged a juvy salmon, and had over a half dozen quality chases/follows that did not result in a hookup. A couple of the spots I fished allowed me to stand on submerged rocks or riverbank boulders. In addition to making casting easier, these also offered a tremendous vantage point for sight fishing to cruising trout — and to watch how they reacted to my offerings.

There’s one spot on the river where I’ve moved a fish my last two outings. He comes out of his hole, flashes at the streamer, then bails. Since I know where he lives, it is a moral imperative that I catch him this winter. Another fish today was an upper teens brown that was waiting in ambush below a ledge. Every time I changed flies, he came out to inspect it. During one follow — there were three of them — he even nudged the fly (Deep Threat) with his nose. But no completion of the transaction. Again, we have his address.

I had a conversation with Grady at UpCountry about all this on my way home, and we were in agreement that a faster retrieve is probably a good plan of action. Although I did plenty of speedy retrieves today, such as you can do with the fly rod.

If you’re heading out, be prepared for crowds. Of the six places I fished today, there were people in four of them — unheard of most Decembers — and none of the pools were named for a house of worship.

Steve Culton ties the 60 Second Redhead on HAN’s Yankee Fisherman

The host of Yankee Fisherman, John Kovach, was kind enough to feature me tying one of my favorite steelhead flies, the 60 Second Redhead, on the 12.10.15 show. The segment was recorded at the Arts of the Angler show back in October. You can see it here; I come in around the 17:40 mark. And of course there’s also the official currentseams tying video elsewhere on this site. Thanks again to John and Yankee Fisherman for their continued support.

Yes. The 60 Second Redhead catches steelhead. From November 2015.



Farmington River Report 12/10/15: BWOs, anglers, and trout

The permanent TMA was crowded! Smoke ’em if you got ’em, I guess — it’s hard for the mall to compete with near-60 degree weather in December. Andy Lyons moseyed on over to say hi. (Please do likewise if you see me on the water — the internet is a great way to reach out to people, but it can’t replace a handshake. And Andy, if you’re reading this, I want that nymph recipe). (See comments below for Andy’s generous response.) Water was on the low side of medium at 225cfs. Didn’t get a water temp, but I think it’s fair to assume that it’s a wee bit higher than normal. Witnessed: a very strong BWO hatch around 1pm.

To the outing: Mark is an experienced fly angler who is making the transition to trout. He’s all in on the immersion process, and this was our second trip in as many weeks. Like our first time out, we focused on traditional late fall/early winter holding water, with an emphasis on indicator nymphing and streamers. We hit five spots, and found players in two of them.

Mark’s first fish of the day came on a simple egg fly (donated to me the previous night by Gary S of the CFFA). What a lovely early winter brown.


After our session ended, Mark wanted to keep fishing. I pointed out a likely spot for him to toss some streamers. Look what he found on the second cast. Check out the transparency of that tail. Nice job, Mark!


Thank you, CFFA

Many thanks to the Connecticut Fly Fisherman’s Association for hosting me last night. As always, it’s a treat to get out and connect with fellow anglers, share information, and see some familiar faces. Please mark Saturday, February 6, 2016 on your calendar. That’s the date for the CFFA Expo at Maneely’s in South Windsor. Since I was officially invited last night, I will once again be tying.

Pay no attention to that man in front of the curtain. Taken at last year’s Expo.

CFFA 2015

Next week’s gig: Thursday, December 17,  “The Little Things” at TU Croton Watershed Chapter, Orvis store in Ridge hill
Shopping Center in Yonkers, NY. 
For more information and directions, visit https://www.facebook.com/cwctu