Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending my first International Fly Tying Symposium. I’d always wanted to go, but my annual steelheading trip with Cam got in the way — until this year, when they moved the Symposium to a different weekend. So off to Somerset I went, vise and scissors and other implements of destruction in tow.
Getting there wasn’t without its challenges. That Friday night, we had a major rainstorm in the tri-state area. At one point my nav app said a four hour drive. Not fancying the idea of slogging through Manhattan at rush hour, I delayed. I didn’t get to my hotel room until shortly before midnight.
I’d been invited as a celebrity tier and presenter, so no pressure…no, really, it was all good, and it was wonderful to be wanted. I found my tying space first thing Saturday morning, sharing the table with Chester Rosocha. I’d never met Chester before, but I won the table-mate lottery as he was as nice and matey and friendly a soul as you could hope for. Tim Flagler and and Tim Cammisa were the next table down, but you can’t win them all…of course I’m joking. Tim and Tim are both swell guys, not to mention exceptional tiers, and we shared plenty of laughs over the course of two days.
Every show, I tell myself, “This time I’m going to take more photos and some videos of me and others in action to share on my website.” Then stuff gets in the way. And it doesn’t get done. But here are a few shots from the weekend.
Happy Monday. We’re back and at it, and it feels good! This question comes from new subscriber Travis. It’s a good one, and since the answer is not simple, I thought I’d share it. Question:After listening to your Saltwater Edge podcast episode, you’ve motivated me to start trying out greased line swings and other similar presentations for stripers in my local estuary. This article brought up similar concerns I have about this tactic where I fish because the water is quite stained while still being mostly salt. How do the stripers’ lateral lines function in regards to a dead drift or swing presentation? Does this method require the fly to be that close that it goes by their face like a trout, is there vision better than we give them credit for in murk or are their lateral lines more sensitive than always needing a strip retrieve? Still trying to get one on the swing.
Answer: I could write a lengthy chapter to answer. But rather than over-complicate, let’s simplify. The conditions are stained water with poor visibility. The first question is how do the striper’s lateral lines function in regards to a dead drift or swing presentation? My reaction response is, danged if I know. My second response, while sounding facetious, is actually an attempt at serious: probably the way they always do. But I know where Travis is going with this. What’s he’s asking is, how do stripers find a fly in murky water? Do they see it? Do they rely on their lateral line? Does the fly need to be moving for them to find it?
Here’s what I can tell you. I fish a couple estuaries where the water, at best, is the color of tea, and perhaps most of the time is more like tea and milk. That is, lousy visibility. The bait is grass shrimp about an inch-and-a-half long. Every time I go, I hear the pops of bass feeding. So, I know they’re finding the naturals in stained water in the dark. Now, I don’t know if they’re finding the bait through vision or their lateral line or a combination of the two. But I do know that they can and will find my grass shrimp flies, which could hardly be described as patterns that — and I’ll use a phrase that generally drives me bonkers — “push water.” These flies are swung or dangling in the current. Sometimes the hits come when I ‘m pulling in over a hundred feet of line and backing. But mostly it’s on the swing and dangle.
I don’t know how the bass are finding my flies; I might even suggest that it doesn’t matter, because they are finding my flies, just as they find my skinny sand eel flies at night on the dark of the moon in the whitewater wash of a pounding surf. I fish bigger flatwings in the spring in a different estuary system where the water is frequently stained. Granted, those are much bigger patterns, but the presentation is still a natural drift, swing, or static dangle; regardless, the bass find those flies.
What Travis is really asking for, I believe, is permission to believe that the bass will find his flies in murky water. Permission granted. But ultimately, the permission has to come from you, Travis — and the only way to obtain it is to get out there and fish. Hope that helps!
Thank you everyone for being so patient with me during a very busy time. My readers and followers — that’s you! — are something for which I am truly thankful.
I’m looking forward to getting back to giving you the kind of content you’re used to seeing here. And I’ve got a lot to write about: the International Fly Tying Symposium, my recent steelheading trip, some new materials I’m using for fly tying…just to name a few. Speaking of steelheading, it seems like every time I go, come what may, it only serves to fuel the addiction. I’ve been falling asleep visualizing strike indicators dipping below the surface. Really. Sweet dreams, indeed.
Last night I did my second international Zoom presentation with the Ottawa Fly Fishers. They are a small but very enthusiastic group, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them. The subject was “Wet Flies 101.” I don’t need to tell you about my passion for tying and fishing wet flies, so spreading the word is kind of like getting extra frosting with your cake. Thank you again, Ottawa Fly Fishers, for being such swell hosts!
I’m back from the International Fly Tying Symposium, where I had a fantastic time. Normally, I’d be writing about that today. But sadly, my wife’s sister passed away unexpectedly over the weekend, and right now I need to focus on family rather than fishing.
It’s always my goal every week to try to give you 2-3 bits of meaningful new content on Currentseams. I appreciate your loyalty and your readership. Please bear with me and we’ll get back on track soon. Lots to talk about! In the meantime, tight lines, good tides, perfect flows, lots of bait, and abundant hatches to all. Thank you.
In case you’ve been wondering where currentseams has been, I’ve been working on the presentation railroad, and getting ready for this weekend’s International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset, NJ. Just finished: Tying and Fishing Wet Flies: A Modern Take On The Ancient And Traditional Methods. This is a brand new look at tying and fishing wet flies, with an emphasis on the tying aspect. You can be one of the first to see it at the International Fly Tying Symposium, this Saturday, Nov 12 at 10:30am. Still need more wet flies stuff? Join me for my tying class at 1pm, Tying Soft Hackles, Winged and Wingless Wets. Sunday, Nov 13 at 11am is another brand new presentation called Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies For Striped Bass. Both seminars are included in the price of admission to the Symposium(the class is extra). Holy smokes, I still gotta pack. See you there!
I’m putting the finishing touches on a brand new presentation called Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies For Striped Bass, and you can be one of the first to see it at the International Fly Tying Symposium, Sunday, Nov 13 at 11am. It’s one of two seminars I’ll be doing — the other is Tying and Fishing Wet Flies, also brand new. You can see that one on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 10:30. Both seminars are included in the price of admission to the Symposium. Beyond Cast & Strip is all about tying flies that create the illusion of life, even when at rest — flatwings, bucktails, soft hackles — all proven patterns that I use every season. I’ll also be sharing some insights on how and where to fish presentation flies. I’m excited about this one, folks. See you there!