Calling all steelhead fanatics and soft-hackle aficionados! “Soft Hackles for Winter Steelhead” first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of American Angler. It features six of my favorite winter steelhead soft-hackles, including detailed photos, pattern recipes, and a little story about each fly. Also included is my winter steelhead indicator setup.
I wrote this piece several years ago, but I’m pleased to tell you that I still use all of these flies. With the brutal cold approaching, it seemed like a good time to post “Soft Hackles for Winter Steelhead.” To read it, click on the pdf link below.
This fine buck was taken in late fall 2017 on a Salmon River Rajah, one of the soft-hackled flies featured in the article.
I hope you have a safe and happy holiday filled with warmth and love. Thank you for your loyal readership, and I hope to see you at a show or on the water soon.
Someone’s been good this year! This is the actual stocking from my childhood Christmases at Nana’s house.
I usually write from my own experience, but for “Streamer Kings” I interviewed George Daniel, Chad Johnson, and Tommy Lynch. Their comments and insights compose the bulk of the article. Whether you’re new to streamers for trout or an old Mickey Finn hand like me, I’ll bet you learn something useful. On newsstands now.
If you decided to play hooky yesterday and fish the Farmy, you weren’t alone. I would officially describe the permanent TMA as “mobbed” (for a Tuesday in December the week before Christmas). Air temps in the upper 40s, water temp in the mid 30s, flow at 210cfs. A few bugs flitting about (midges, W/S caddis, small grey stones) but no observed risers. I carpet bombed one pool with nymphs, both indicator and tight line, for about two hours and could manage only one trout. Chucked streamers for 15 minutes to no avail, then moved upriver.
Now dedicated to the streamer cause, I fished an overhead-deep pool and blanked. Moved downstream with about 15 minutes left in my session and connected with a nice mid-teens brown — and decided to leave on a high note.
The Hi-Liter produces again! The Hi-Liter is one of my high-confidence winter streamers. I like it on bright days and medium flows, and you can learn how to tie it here. A cast, a mend, and as I came tight to the line, a dull thud. Many thanks to Nick who graciously shared the pool with me.
Lots of good stuff to see, buy, and learn about. I’ll be there — hope you will, too. Still waiting to hear about Edison. Here’s a pdf of the brochure:
I went for a walk in the woods yesterday. The thin blue line had turned mostly white, as had the forest floor. Here are a few photos from the outing.
Stuff like this beats the tar out of any store-bought Christmas tree — real or plastic.
The story on the brook was very little fishable water. Somewhere below ice and froth there are brook trout. Sadly, I couldn’t find any that wanted to play.
With temperatures in the teens, line and leader and fly froze the moment they hit the air. A hike through the snow pack and a Nestor Miranda Habano corona Gorda (and many layers and hand warmers) kept me nice and cozy.
This video includes traditional North Country spiders and a couple soft hackles of my own design. It’s going to be part of my upgraded presentation, “Wet Flies 101.”
I’ve been invited again to speak at the 2018 Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, MA. On Friday, January 19, 1pm, I will be giving a seminar in the Catch Room: “Wet Flies 101.” If you’ve already seen WF101, this is a new version with upgraded content and video, so don’t miss it! For those of you looking to explore the ancient and tradition art of subsurface fly fishing with wet flies, this is a great introduction.
On Saturday, January 20, 11am, I will be in Room A of the Destination Theater for “Trout Fishing for Striped Bass — How to catch the stripers that everyone can’t.” This is a new presentation that focuses on using traditional trout and salmon tactics to catch more striped bass, especially the difficult and larger fish that escape most anglers. Tackle, flies, tactics — this will cover it all.
The Edison, NJ show is the next week. The schedule hasn’t been set, but I’ll give you the details as soon as I know them. Hope to see you in Marlborough!
I love talking about and teaching fly fishing, and wet flies and striped bass are two of my favorite topics.
One of my mentors used to tell me, “Say ‘yes’ and then figure out how to do it.” On the surface, it was a little intimidating. But once I got the hang of it, I realized the powerful wisdom of Gini’s words — and all the opportunities it created.
I see far too much “can’t” in fly fishing. Some of it is human nature — “can’t” gives us an easy way to opt out. Some of it derives from negative experience (“I can’t nymph.” Yes, you can. You just need someone to teach you.). Some of it is generated by preconceived mindsets and popular mythology (“Using a five weight rod is unsporting and will put too much stress on a large striper.” No, it isn’t, and not if you fight the fish from the reel and butt of the rod.).
There are two kinds of anglers: those who can’t and those who can. In my experience, the ones who can — or at least believe they can — are the ones having the most fun.
This double-digit pounder was back in the river before she knew what hit her (Herr Blue flatwing, 5-weight rod, 9-weight line, and an angler who said “yes, I can”).
I had a splendid time at last night’s showing of “Running the Coast.” I spoke for about ten minutes on the importance of catch-and-release for our distressed striped bass fishery. The main points were:
Catch-and-release best practice begins with tackle. Use a barbless hook and a stout leader (I typically use 20, 25, or 30# nylon).
The two biggest causes of fish mortality are over-stressing the fish and exposure to air. Set your drag tight and get those fish in fast. A 28″ striper should not be taking you into your backing. “To play him long is to play him long.” — Stu Apte. We all like souvenirs of our catch, but do you really need 20 photos of 24″ fish? Keep fish in the water prior to the money shot. Don’t suspend the fish from its mouth. Don’t drag the fish onto dry sand beaches. Use common sense. Please.
Many thanks to the sponsors, benefit organizations, and most of all to Sean Callinan and Ray Luhn for organizing the event, and for their brilliant decision to hold it at Stony Creek Brewery. (Yum.)
Looking forward: show season is upon us. I will have details on my schedule once it firms up. I will be speaking at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough and perhaps in Edison, NJ. I’ll likely be doing the CFFA show here in CT. I may even have a gig in Maine! Fly tying classes, demos …once these get locked up, you’ll be among the first to know. If your club is looking for a speaker, you know where to find me.
The shortest distance between two people is a “hello.” Come say hi if our paths cross this winter.