Inside a master rod maker’s workshop

I spent a few hours yesterday with old friend Andy Manchester. Andy is a highly skilled rod builder, and I am fortunate to have a few of his rods in my quiver. (I have three favorite rods, and Andy had a hand in two of them.) I’m really not an equipment junkie — I don’t own anything rare or valuable — but I do appreciate craftsmanship, and fishing with gear that was created by someone you know carries a certain je ne sais quoi. We had a blast casting several of Andy’s creations (did I mention that he’s an extraordinary caster?) and I wanted to share a photo of his workshop.

Where it all happens. See something you like?

AndyRodShop

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I love old stuff. There’s something so Lee Wulff about the chattering of a click-and-pawl reel.

OldReels

Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?

Followers and readers already know that I tend to fish how, where, and when others don’t — especially when it comes to stripers. I’ve always considered currentseams to be a teaching platform, and to a large extend that is what drives the content of this site. Still, there are times when I feel like a lonely island being battered by the waves of conventional wisdom. So when I get a letter like the one below, it restores me. I’ve edited some of it for brevity, but I think its message is important. Fans of 1776 will get the title reference — and the importance of the answer, “yes.”

“I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I also believe that if someone has helped you, made a part of life more enjoyable, or provided valuable guidance, you should thank them. currentseams has done all three of those things for me.
I moved to Barrington, Rhode Island 7 years ago. I was a sophomore in high school and by then an avid fly fisherman and fly tier of, again, 7 years. I knew little of Rhode Island’s saltwater opportunities then. I was a die-hard trout fisherman, but with the Farmington 2 hours away and no drivers license I thought I should figure out how to have fun in my own backyard.
After multiple run-ins with striped bass eccentrics my father and I were excited. Yet in our haste to get on the water (in reality it was just MY haste) we forgot to really take our time to learn and listen. “Whats the best fly? What’s the best line? Where’s the best spot? Okay, thank you and goodbye!” We wanted to know what everyone else was doing so that’s what we got: intermediate lines, weighted flies, and the strip retrieve. It wasn’t a productive spring, and you can bet our disappointment had us sticking to trout.
With my intermediate line and my Clouser minnows I set out to really figure out this whole striped bass thing. I had done the research. I knew they were around. Now I just had to catch them. This time I had some success. I got a better understanding of tides and where to find fish, but I still fished fast and deep because its all I knew and all I was told. Countless times I lamented my setup as stripers gorged on silver sides right before my eyes. Damned my sinking fly!
I decide to change it up. Time to ditch the internet and get some ink in my nails. Time to sort through my stacks of Eastern Fly Fishing magazine. After some digging I found it, an article titled “South County, RI: By Boots or By Boat”. I don’t have a boat, but I certainly have some boots. This could be good. The article featured beautiful imagery, informative writing, and a picture of a gray-haired man in all black fishing in a trout stream? What?
The caption reads: On a foggy day, the South County salt ponds and connecting estuaries closely resemble the English countryside. It’s no small reason that the original settlers called the area New England. And it’s why native son Kenney Abrames favorites trout and salmon techniques in the salt. 
Not a trout stream, but he was fishing it like one. Who is this Kenney Abrames? A quick internet search bears links to A Perfect Fish and Striper Moon. I scroll down a bit more and there it is, a search result titled “Ken Abrames- currentseams”. I clicked. I read. I explored and I never looked back. It was as if a whole new world had opened up to me. I blazed through currentseams. I quickly bought and read Striper Moon. I bought some floating line. And I put my stores of bucktail and peacock herl to work.
Funny enough, it worked. As soon as I got back from school I began catching striped bass using sparse flies, drifts, and swings. I was having a blast. It felt so satisfying to read something, execute what the writing said to do, and have the desired result.
I (also) realized something very important. This whole time I had been looking to you and Ken for absolutes. But there are no absolutes in fishing. There are only problems and solutions. As I began to re-read Striper Moon and currentseams I started to understand the true message behind both works. That message being this: Objects do not catch fish. People do.
I began to learn that there was no one fly, or one technique, or one rod, or one fly line, or one anything. Every fishing situation is different and it takes a creative angler to solve the riddle of each one. It was with this relization that I stopped looking at Striper Moon and currentseams like they were the Bibles of striped bass on the fly. These works are shared knowledge, not commandments.
Through the help of currentseams I have become a more creative angler. I have embraced the greased line swing, the floating line, and have even created my own fly as a solution to a fishing problem. Thank you for keeping alive the old traditions of striped bass fly fishing and for sharing your insights with the world. Keep up the good work and I cannot wait to read your next post.”
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Thanks for making my day, Sam.
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If you want to catch the fish that not everyone can catch, then don’t fish like everyone else.
TroutFishingStripers

Spring fishing madness and current(seams) events

Just a quick post to catch up with you. Warmer weather is finally here, and who among us is not stoked? You haven’t been hearing much from me lately, and that’s due to it being a very busy time between kids’ sports (hockey and lacrosse); yard work (Trivia question: what do me and Bob Pop have in common besides fly fishing for stripers? Answer: We are both avid rose growers); and regular work, work, work. Oh, I’ve been fishing, too. Reports to come.

The Farmington River has gone through an extended high, cold phase. They’ve recently dropped the flow from the dam, and after the Still settles the river should be in fine shape for the weekend. Would you believe I haven’t fished the river in months? That will change next week.

I fished the lower Hous last week and the Bass-o-Matic was on. I fished a full sink integrated line and a variety of soft-hackles and I don’t think I went more than three casts between bass. (You too can become an instant expert.)

I’m starting to get a lot of guiding requests. If you want to book an outing/lesson with me, you can find out everything you need to know here. A reminder that I started doing short striper trips last fall that are geared toward you learning the methodology of trout fishing for striped bass. Also, most of my weekends are booked — so now you’ve got a great excuse to blow off work and fish.

The spring speaking circuit is winding down. My next gig will be September 4 at the Long Island Flyrodders. If you’re the person in charge of booking speakers for your club, fear not and click here.

And yes, there are articles in the magazine pipeline. Details as they come in.

See you on the water!

All in favor of an epic Hendrickson hatch, say aye.

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Tip of the Week: Change it up

One of my favorite old saws from my days in advertising creative was, “You cannot bore someone into buying your product.” The same could be said of fly fishing: you cannot bore a fish into eating your fly.

I was recently reminded of this — twice, actually. Both times I was fishing over water that I knew held good-sized fish. Streamers was the method, and although I had induced some bumps, there were no wholesale takes. Even a variation in presentation or resting the fish did not produce. In both cases, what did produce was changing the fly. Fish are curious, often to a fault. Off with the old, on with the new, and Ka-POW!

Sometimes it’s the simple, little things that make the difference between fishing and catching.

I’m giving the above advice an enthusiastic striper thumb’s up.

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600 Followers Contest Swag

I spent part of yesterday hunkered down at the bench, fingers flying around fur and feather. My intention was to get these out today, but it will have to wait until early next week. In the meantime, feast your eyes — and think about the potential glory you hold within each cast. On we go to 700!

Roger and Vince asked for striper flies. Here’s a starter kit, with many major food groups covered. They’ll be getting one of each. Clockwise from bottom: Orange Ruthless (clam worm), Ray’s Fly (silverside), Inconspicuous (anchovy), Eelie (sand eel), Grass Shrimp Solution, and Soft Hackled Flatwing (generic baitfish/attractor).

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Here are Paul’s soft hackles and wets. Left cork, clockwise, starting upper left: Partridge and Light Cahill (2), Hare’s Ear wingless, Red Fox Squirrel nymph, Squirrel and Ginger, BH Squirrel and Ginger. Right Cork, clockwise, starting upper right, Hackled March Brown, Grizzly and Grey wingless, Dark Hendrickson (2), Drowned Ant (2).

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Many thanks to everyone for your readership, kindness, and support. I have lots of good stuff planned for this spring and beyond, so stay tuned.

Contest winners

For a complete list of winners, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to….nah, what the heck, I’ll just tell you now. Vince Rizzo, Paul Rice, and rmitterling are the three lucky winners. I’ll post their swag when I tie it (gotta hit the bench).

To those who entered, thank you for your valuable input. And to all currentseams readers and followers, thanks for your loyal support and good energy. You truly make this a labor of love.

On to 700!

Here’s to the winners. (Nothing better than a wee drop in the midst of a Block Island All-Nighter.)

Block Island All-Nighter Wee Drop

 

Compleat Angler awarded the Order of the Noble Turkey Sandwich (with Lays chip clusters) — and other Monday ramblings

Many thanks to my friends at the Compleat Angler in Darien for hosting my Local Rivers tying demo on Saturday. Tying and talking fishing is certainly one of the things I like most about my job. Thanks to everyone who showed up, and — as always — a fed tyer is a happy tyer. That sandwich really hit the spot! A final note: The Compleat Angler is a terrific fly shop. Every year I find something good down there. This year it was a Renzetti magnum hair stacker. (Wet fly aficionados, they have a terrific selection of soft hen hackle capes.)

Passing around the Deep Threat for a few photos.

CADeepThreat~

The 600 Followers contest is officially closed. Thank you everyone who entered, and I loved your comments and suggestions. Now to put them to good use! I will do the drawing in a few days and announce the winners. Now’s the time to summon your good luck karma.

Bombardiers for a client. Coming to an estuary near you…

CharlysBombardiers