Rare find for flatwing fans: R.L.S. Extra Long Saddle Hackles available

A selection of Ken Abrames R.L.S. Extra Long Saddle Hackles was recently put up for sale online. These are the genuine item — “New Old Stock” as we’d call them in the vacuum tube world — as originally sold by the creator of the modern flatwing. The saddles are in their original packaging and are in excellent condition. Many are unused; some are missing only a few feathers, leaving you hundreds of hackles to work with.

I want to make this very clear: I am not selling these, nor do I have an interest other than helping the seller offer these to people who may be passionate about tying and fishing flatwings. 

The saddles are priced from $45-$50 depending on color, which I believe is a very fair price (shipping cost varies). Available colors include — this is current to my best knowledge but of course will change as he sells these off — Claret, Off White, Off White Variant, Natural Black, Umber Brown, Ginger Olive, Olive (seller’s comment: “The same name on pkg but looks more like Emerald Green to me.”) and Eggplant Harlequin.

If you’re interested, please email georgejjohnson@gmail.com.

This was the original lot. Many of the colors shown are gone; jump on the remaining ones while you can.

RLSsaddles

 

Farmington River Report 8/29/17: Slow and getting low

I guided Ed today, and we were faced with a river that hasn’t been this low in months. Fear not, there’s still plenty of water (190 cfs in the permanent TMA) and plenty of trout, although the latter were a bit bashful today.

We worked on Ed’s nymphing and wet fly presentations which were pretty darn good already, a testament to the slowness of the day. Spot A was below the PTMA — there were a few bugs coming off, but the only trout we played with was a camera-shy rainbow that came on a nymph.

Ed presenting his wet fly wares.

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Off to Spot B within the PTMA. Same story — a few bugs coming off and a few random slasher/risers, but nothing consistent. We covered that pool subsurface top (wets) and bottom (nymphing, both indicator and short-line) to no avail, until the 11th hour.

Keep on keeping on, Ed, and the rewards will be measured in pounds, not inches.

Last cast, we managed this vividly-colored 16″ wild brown with paddle fins and dramatic spotting. Taken on a 2x short size 14 Frenchie variant. A good way to end a slow day.

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Banging around the Cape in the dark

At dinner at the Chatham Squire Friday night, Gordo asked me, “Are you going fishing tonight, dad?” My stock reply for such questions is: “Have we met?”

I spent 90 minutes fishing a mark on Pleasant Bay toward the bottom of the tide. Not a breath of wind. The current was good and my drifts were true, but it was one of those nights where the bass were elsewhere. I cycled through some basic patterns, and the only bump came on a black deer hair head fly about 5″ long. I did see a shooting star, and that helped take my mind off the fact that I was standing in the water in the dark near white shark central. I did note silversides on the wade out.

Saturday I headed to Steve’s Secret Spot (I’ve seen one other angler there in 10 years). It’s a nondescript mid-Cape creek mouth that is either on or off. Tonight it was infested with silversides and a few striped brigands. But unfortunately, it’s an outgoing tide spot only, a fact drilled home to me while I waited almost an hour for the tide to go from slack to incoming to find that the silversides were still there but the bass had skedaddled. I had had only a half hour of outgoing, and could manage only one bump.

So I hightailed it back to Friday’s spot and gave myself 15 minutes to catch a bass. Midnight, second-to-last-cast, bump on the swing, then bang on the dangle. Our Blessed Lady of the Ray’s Fly Flatwing comes through again.

Four-oh. A perfect fish at a perfect time on a perfect fly. 

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Housy smallmouth mini-report (late)

I fished the Housy the other night from 6pm-8:30pm. Virgin waters for me, below the TMA: some pocket water that dumped into a long boulders-on-the-bottom run, shoulder deep in the middle ringed with frog water. Action: underwhelming. Hatches: underwhelming (mostly tan and black caddis). So it goes, but I did catch fish and I had the place all to myself.

I took the usual assortment of late afternoon dinks. Pre-hatch swung wets produced very little interest (not surprising given the weak evening rise) and all the action came on the Black Magic top dropper. The smallmouth bite window was torturously brief: 8:00pm-8:15pm, then shutdown. I had switched over to a grey and chartreuse Gurgler, and my best fish of the evening came on that fly. Toward dark I did get the largest bluegill I’ve ever landed, but that’s really not why I was there.

Nearly a foot long, this dude whacked the Gurgler upon landing, then hunted it down about ten feet across a current seam. Almost put a burn in my rod hand forearm.

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Ken Abrames 1994 Striper Fly Tying Presentation Video

I discovered this gem just yesterday: archival footage of Ken Abrames making a presentation on striped bass fly tying to the Rhody Fly Rodders, circa 1994. Now you too can watch, listen, and learn from the grandmaster as he covers striped bass fly design, materials, color, and traditional tying methods. While I’ve had detailed conversations with Ken on all these topics, it’s still a special treat to be able to see him in action over 20 years ago.

Recorded long before the days of home HD, the video is perfectly watchable — certainly, its content far outweighs any video washout or digital artifacts. You can find it on YouTube in three parts; here’s the link to part one.

What happens when you mix water and bucktail (and other secrets of the art of tying the sparse fly) revealed.

KenAbramesLecture

 

Coming soon to a stream near you

Tied for a client, this neat little collection will drive smallmouth bass (and trout) out of their minds. We have the subtle (size 12 August White soft hackles), the traditional (size 12 Black Magics, tied as a 14-16), the horrible (size 4 TeQueelys), and the noisy (Gartside Gurglers, size 2 and 4).

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“To play him long is to play him wrong” redux

Glass houses, stones, and all that. So this week when I hooked into a 20+” Survivor Strain brown on the Farmington, I started the clock. 93 seconds — hand-stripped, no reel — from hook set to net. (And it was only that long because I had trouble fitting him into the net first swipe.)

Unfortunately, I had camera disasters. I was using my main shooter for a different project earlier in the day and hadn’t changed the setting, so I ended up with out-of-focus mush. Then I attempted a GoPro movie of the release, only to discover that the battery was dead. So you’ll have to use your imagination: kype, clipped adipose, leopard spotting, brawny, and no match for an angler with a sharp hook and a reliable leader.