This is my third (I think) year participating in On The Water magazine‘s “Guide Flies” column, written by Tony Lolli. You’re familiar with he concept of a guide fly — a pattern that is typically simple to tie and can be relied upon to produce day in and day out. (Or night after night, as it were.) The Big Eelie delivers the goods. Developed by Ken Abrames, this pattern imitates larger sand eels. Part flatwing, part soft hackle, the Big Eelie is understated elegance at its finest. I think what I like most about the Big Eelie is that its template — four pencil-thin saddles and a marabou collar — lends itself to as many color combination as your inner artist can conjure up. My Rat a Tat Big Eelie, based on Ken’s larger flatwing, is just one example. Have at it and hold on tight!
My third winter fly tying pay-per-Zoom event is Saturday, February 20 at 1pm. Like the others, this will be about 90 minutes of fly tying/tie-along instruction. The cost is $10. To “register,” you send 10 bucks to me at PayPal (ID is email@example.com) and I’ll send you the link to the meeting. Favorite Nymphs will cover some basic, useful patterns that are proven producers. Again, the focus is on template and technique. You should have different color threads, different hooks, beads, tools, etc. You should have at least one hen hackle/hen cape — Whiting makes a good basic hen hackle — or some other kind of soft hackle, whether it’s grouse, starling, partridge, etc. The “right” color is not critical, but if you want to go all in you should have grey or brown or black. The point is, if you don’t have a specific color hackle, you can find it later. Questions? You know where to find me.
Many of you will want a complete materials list, so let’s plan on these patterns: Soft-Hackled Bead Head Pheasant Tail, Bead Head Squirrel and Ginger, Frenchy Variant, Blue Glass Bead Midge. You’ll need 2x short scud hooks (anything from sz 12-16 for the first three and a size 18 or smaller for the last); metallic beads, your choice color, to match hook size; blue glass seed beads (mine are the Mill Hill brand; you can find them online or at a fabric/craft store, sized to your hook, and if you can’t find them you can substitute a tiny metallic bead of your choice); small copper wire; extra small silver wire; pheasant tail; ginger/orange dubbing (I like Angora goat); a squirrel skin if you have one (if not you can substitute a small soft hackle); bright contrasting color Ice Dub, your choice of color; high tack wax (like Loon Swax). Again, if you don’t have some of these specific materials you can substitute/make do as we are just learning some basic patterns and techniques.
I also like the Rainbow Warrior variant, a high confidence pattern. Scud hook, silver bead, PT, opal tinsel, rainbow sow scud dubbing if you have it. Maybe if we’re ambitious we’ll get to this one, too.
Small streams and wild trout are a passion, so tomorrow night I’ll be talking about thin blue lines and the exquisite gems that live in them. If you haven’t been getting the Zoom links — I send them out Tuesday late afternoon — please check your spam box. See you Tuesday night!
In case you missed it, the ASMFC’s Striped Bass Board met last week. You gotta love this group. The Commission’s inability to grasp that striper stocks are in trouble, and that they are charged with recovering that stock, is almost staggering in its perfection. That unspoiled incompetence was on full display during the proceedings. The Commission is, as Bobby Knight said, “a legless man who teaches running.” Do you know what they did for 2 1/2 hours? They performed a deep dive into the urgent matter of tube-and-worm rigs. Or, as Charles Witek of One Angler’s Voyage described it, debating “how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.” Never mind those pesky issues of collapsing bass stocks and overfishing.
Meanwhile, rogue ASMFC states like Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey maintain their laser-like focus on how they can kill more stripers. (You know, out of mercy. They don’t want any stripers to starve to death.)
What’s a concerned angler to do? First, read this excellent essay from the ASGA’s (American Saltwater Guides Association) Tony Friedrich. Next, don’t give up hope. We all know the ASMFC’s process is irreparably broken. The ASGA is our current best hope to effect change within and for the ASMFC. So, finally, support the ASGA. They’re doing good work. They have a plan. They need you to be involved.
Q: How many ASMFC Striped Bass Board members does it take to change a light bulb? A: C’mon. The ASMCF can’t change a damn thing.
I spent two-and-a-half hours yesterday early afternoon banging around the Permanent TMA. Cloudy, 37 degrees, water about 250cfs. The mission was streamers and the method was tight-lining/jigging and then full sinking line with more traditional patterns. I hit three marks and only found fish in one, and they were more concerned with smutting on some midges than whacking my streamer. I did get one take, but it was so soft I thought it was the bottom; I did a tip set and by the time I felt the head shake, the trout was off. So it goes. By the way, many of the river’s parking pullouts are not plowed, so easy access is limited.
Speaking of reading fly fishing books and discovering little gems: John Nagy’s Steelhead Guide 4th edition is where I found the pattern German’s White Nightmare. It’s the one at upper left. I keep a few in my box for trout, and it was a good choice for the full sink line in yesterday’s lower flows. Oh — it was also the only pattern I had a touch on all day.
Many thanks to The Fisherman magazine New England Region Editor Toby Lapinski for giving this piece a home. This was originally intended to be part of my series of “Little Things” articles in American Angler. But with that pub’s demise, I’m happy to call The Fisherman its new home. “Stacking the Deck: The Little Things” continues the theme of seemingly insignificant things that can have a huge impact on your fishing success. Stay tuned as there will be more from me in future issues of The Fisherman.
Many thanks to the dedicated virtual crowd who joined me last night for my Tuesday Night Zoom, “Good Reads Part 2.” In case you missed it, I talked about nine more books that have had a major influence on my fly fishing approach/philosophy/success. Noteworthy inclusions are two books about striped bass that aren’t fly fishing books at all. Nonetheless, they both contain a wealth of information for keen students of all things stripers. I’ve marked those two with an asterisk. Here’s the list: The Art of Tying the Wet Fly & Fishing the Flymph by James Leisenring and Vernon S. Hidy; Fly Patterns of Alaska by the Alaska Flyfishers; Tying Small Flies by Ed Engle; The Hunt for Giant Trout by Landon Mayer; Steelhead Guide by John Nagy; Greased Line Fishing for Salmon [and Steelhead] by Jock Scott; Stripers and Streamers by Ray Bondorew; Night Tides* by Michael G. Cinquemani; Surfcasting Around The Block* by Dennis Zambrotta.
How is it Monday already? It must be, because tomorrow’s Tuesday, and that means another Currentseams Tuesday Night Zoom. By popular demand, I’ll be discussing more books that had a major impact on my fly fishing. Shake off the the snowy winter blues, join in the fun, and perhaps find a hidden gem of a good read.