Five Hundred Faithful Followers. Let’s celebrate!

TGIF, fellow Currentseamsers. And thank you for being part of the Faithful Five Hundred! To celebrate, we’re doing our customary flies-tied-by-Steve giveaway. Here are the contest rules:

1) No purchase necessary.

2) You must be a follower of currentseams to enter. (If you’re not one already, you become a follower by clicking on the “Stay current with currentseams” button on the home page.)

3) To enter, leave a comment on this thread saying you wish to enter AND share with us the name of a favorite fly pattern. One entry per person. Deadline for entering is 11:59pm March 31, 2017 (no foolin’). Three winners will be chosen at random. The winners will be notified in the comments section of this thread or by email, and will be responsible for sending me their address so I can ship the flies out. Sorry, I can only ship to U.S. addresses.

4) All decisions by me are final.

Thanks again for reading and following currentseams.

A dozen classic North Country spiders — and they could be yours. One lucky winner will get to swim these in a river this spring. They’re tied on light wire hooks with Pearsall’s Gossamer silks. Left cork: Winter Brown, Black Magic. Right cork, clockwise from 3 o’clock: Orange Partridge, Snipe and Purple, Grey Partridge, Poult Bloa.

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Thanks FVTU — and the mystery midge has a name

First, thank you to my friends at Farmington Valley TU Chapter for hosting me last night. While I didn’t partake in your pizza (I hit Five Guys en route) I was nonetheless grateful for the offer. I suppose I must now come up with The Little Things 3.0.

To the mystery midge, that blue bead contraption from a few weeks back. Turns out it does have a name: the G-R Blue Bead Midge. I know this because it is presented in its glory on pages 173 and 174 of Ed Engle’s Trout Lessons, which arrived in yesterday’s mail. (It looks really good. Details to come.)

According to the description in the book, I need to make the body a little longer and add a few more wire segments. That’s easy enough, and perhaps I’ll do tying video of this nifty little fly.

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Tip of the week: watercraft and wisdom, or: You’re smarter than the fish

Heed the sage advice of Harford Henry Edmonds and Norman Nellis Lee:

“The proficient wet fly angler is not disadvantaged at finding no rising trout at the surface, he will instead use his watercraft and wisdom to fish all the spots where he knows a trout will be.”

I tied up this Drowned Ant yesterday, thinking about the shady banks, grassy edges, and pocket water I will drift it through this summer.

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Impressions from a tying demo

Here are a few things from yesterday’s tying demo at the Compleat Angler that are top of mind with me this snowy afternoon:

Wet flies tied in the North Country style are admired both for their simplicity and bugginess. (And trout like them, too.) By the way, group, I was wrong about the Snipe and Purple: the feather in the hackle is not an under covert, it’s from the top of the wing. Nonetheless, I’ll fish that fly with its horrible botched head and catch a trout.

It’s amazing how you can change the energy of a fly simply by altering the color of the hackle. Two Partridge and Light Cahills, the same but different.

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The more I use the rotodubber, the more I like it for fur hackles. Like the NoCo spiders, people gravitate toward the Squirrel and Ginger, and with good reason. It’s one of my most consistent producers.

No two Usuals I tie seem to come out the same.

Confidence catches fish.

I really enjoy the questions and discussions during a demo, both fishing and tying related. I’m humbled — and grateful — that people take the time to come out and connect with me. Thanks to everyone who showed up, and thanks to the Compleat Angler for being such swell hosts.

By the way, I was impressed by the shop’s selection of hackles — and fly tying materials in general. Lots of wonderful wet fly capes in stock, and I left with a lovely Light Ginger hen neck. Check them out at 541 Post Road in Darien, CT.

Marabou adds a little magic to any fly. All that’s missing on this Deep Threat is the Ice Dub collar. Thanks for the photo, Mina.

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Come to where the fly fishing flavor is

Come to Marlborough country.

The 2017 Marlborough edition of The Fly Fishing Show has come and gone. I attended and presented two of the three days. Here’s my take on the action.

Friday was seminar day. I checked in around 11am and walked the show floor for an hour. I had two goals: reconnect with some old acquaintances (Joe Cordiero, Shawn Britton, Ray Stachelek, Armand Courchaine, Bob Popovics, Roger Plourde) and score some feathers. I found two flatwing-worthy saddles and a reddish-brown hen cape for wets. Off to the big room.

I also wanted to meet a few people I didn’t really know. One of them was Jason Randall. It seems like every time I have a piece in American Angler, Jason has one, too. I like his writing and his scientific approach (check out his pocket water piece in the current issue). I caught the tail end of his “Where Trout Are” seminar, introduced myself, and we got in some quality hobnobbing over the next day. I encourage everyone to do likewise. There’s a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience at these shows. Don’t let the fact that someone is well-known intimidate you — people are here to meet, talk, and share information. It’s a real positive energy.

On the board. I got the chance to meet and talk with Ed Engle on Saturday. He’s quiet, thoughtful, and knows much about fly fishing for trout. I wish we’d had more time to chat.

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If you’re a seminar presenter, you get a badge that says “Celebrity” under your name. While I appreciated the title, I was mindful that I’m still just a guy who loves fly fishing. Good crowd — I was a little nervous that there was only one person in the room 15 minutes before show time, but we ended up with a very strong turnout. If you were among them, thanks for coming to see Wet Flies 101!

Saturday I was first up in Room A of the Destination Theater. Another impressive crowd, and we had to take our Q&A out into the hallway (you have a 45-minute hard stop in the DT). Again, thanks for coming, and thanks for laughing at all my jokes.

Tim Flagler from Tightline Productions (really high-end fly tying videos — I covet his editing equipment and skills) was another person I wanted to meet. I’d only spoken with Tim on the phone, so I caught most of his presentation (excellent!), then bent his ear on cameras and shooting out in the hallway. Tim’s a class act.

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I zipped over to Jason Randall’s “Advanced Nymph Fishing” seminar. More good stuff. Jason’s a knowledgeable presenter with a very friendly style. Like Tim, he has some seriously good footage to draw from. Both Tim and Jason made me want to get out on a river post haste. One final lap around the main show floor, and I headed back to Connecticut.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank Chuck and Ben Furimsky for inviting me to play.

Flatwing saddle swag. I’ve got some plans and schemes for these babies (hint: trout).

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I ran into Charles McCaughtry at one of the feather booths. Charles is a Connecticut artist and a currentseams follower. He gifted me two sets of notecards featuring his work. What a thoughtful gesture. Love his impressionistic style.

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What you leave out of a fly may be as important as what you put in

Here’s to impressionism in fly tying. Here’s to creating the illusion of mass without adding bulk. Here’s to using water as a key ingredient in a fly pattern. Here’s to tying flies that try harder to look like something that’s alive and good to eat than try to carbon copy the bait or insect.

I often think of the discussions anglers have about herring or menhaden patterns. The chief complaint seems to be that a given pattern doesn’t mimic the deep belly profile of the bait. The next question that should be asked is, “Is that really necessary?” Anyone who has fished a large flatwing on the greased line swing to stripers feeding on herring knows the answer.

If you talk to Ken Abrames, he’ll tell you about how an angler will come to him and complain that he’s not catching any fish. One of the first things Ken will do is ask to see the fly. If it’s up there on the opacity meter, Ken will start pulling bits of hair and flash out of the fly. Often, the angler then begins to hook up (ask me how I know).

By all means, tie and fish the patterns you have confidence in. Just consider the sage advice of Bill McMillan, who doesn’t like to pretend that a fish is anything other than the primitive animal it is.

I don’t see any big honking bellies or ultra-realistic 3D eyes on these flies. Funny thing! Stripers eat them like candy.

Rock Island Flatwings

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Doesn’t look like the any of the grasshoppers I used to catch when I was a kid. Yet this fly is in grave danger any time I drift it past a grassy bank on a sunny summer day.

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For hundreds of years, the ultimate in sparse impressionism. And the fish haven’t gotten any smarter.

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Book review: 25 Best National Parks To Fish

25 Best National Parks To Fish by Terry and Wendy Gunn, Stonefly Press, ISBN:978-1-63496-904-8, $32.95.

Stonefly Press continues their “Best” (Tailwaters to Fish, etc.) series with this new offering from Terry and Wendy Gunn. Best, of course, is always relative, but you need to make a stand somewhere, right? The authors do a fine job of choosing 25 national parks to fly fish, from the warm salt of the Florida Keys to the bracing salmon runs of Alaska, and from down east Maine to California dreamin’.

Since the authors can’t possibly have an intimate working knowledge of all these wondrous places, they don’t pretend to. Instead, they rely on the first-hand experience of local guides and outfitters. It’s a good strategy, and it lends an agreeable credibility to each chapter.

You will like this book if you are planning on making a pilgrimage to fly fish a national park — or you like to dream about doing so, and maybe this will be the impetus you need to set the wheels in motion. For example, my wife and I have been talking about making a family trip to Grand Canyon. Well, lookee here. Chapter 12, Grand Canyon National Park.

I get an overview map with trail access; general information on the location; specifics about the Colorado River and its tributaries; notes on fisheries management; notable nearby water; and a general list of tackle, gear, and flies to bring. Each chapter includes a detailed short-list sidebar with essentials like logistics information, local fly shops, guides/outfitters, places to stay, where to eat, and even if you’ll find bars on your cell phone. Of course, there are the obligatory scenic view photos and local specimen fish porn. Each chapter is unique in its informational offerings. For example, you might also find details on hatches; resident animal life; and seasonal conditions.

Maybe I’ll start up in Maine with those Acadia salters. Ay-uh.

Have Santa put 25 Best National Parks To Fly Fish on your list.

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