A belated thank you to MVFF & SEMASS TU; Marlborough Show coming up!

Many thanks to the Miami Valley Fly Fishers and Southeastern Massachusetts TU for hosting me this week. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to be in Ohio Monday night from the comfort of my home office. I had the pleasure of presenting “The Little Things” to an enthusiastic, receptive audience. It was great to meet everyone — I hope we get the chance to do it again! Tuesday I was a road warrior, traveling to speak to SEMASS TU. This is another passionate group of anglers, and I enjoyed getting reacquainted with old familiar faces. I did “The Little Things 2.0,” followed by a most excellent Q&A session, including a long discussion about floating vs. intermediate lines in the salt.

Don’t forget about the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show next weekend. On Friday 4/22 at 2:30pm, I’ll be the Featured Fly Tier. Come watch me tie up Spiders, Winged & Wingless Wets. (I had a blast doing this in Edison!) Don’t go away, because at 4:30pm I’m presenting my new seminar, Modern Wet Fly Strategies. I think this is my best program to date, and I’m counting on you to be there. Both are included with the price of your admission ticket. On Saturday 4/23 I have a class, Tying and Fishing Wet Flies. This is a chance to get some basic tying instruction, along with tips on rigging and presentation, geared toward making you a dangerous wet fly machine. It’s a paid class; you have to pre-register to attend. I’m hoping to see plenty of currentseams readers at the show — please come say hello!

I love wet flies. Come learn why.

900 Followers Contest Swag

Congratulations to Glenn, Zak, and Steve. As I write this, their flies are en route, and should be in their hot little hands by Monday. In case you’ve never won, I thought this would be a good time to tell you a little bit about the process of how you get your swag.

Wets, soft hackles, striper flies, and striper/steelhead flies adapted for sea-run cutthroat trout. Good stuff, all of it. Clockwise from far left: shrimpy fare, Ray’s Fly Featherwings, two sets of Soft-Hackled Flatwings, doubles of the Ruthless and the Eelie, and center, some of my favorite, most productive soft-hackles.

Once I notify the winners, I ask them what they’re most interested in receiving. Not all requests are doable, but I try my best. A good case in point would be Zak’s flies. He wanted flies for sea-run cutthroat trout. After rummaging through my hook stash, I reckoned I could make it work. So even though I’ve never tied up flies for sea-run cutthroat trout, I was happy with where I ended up. I hope Zak is, too.

Which brings us to volume. All winners do not necessarily receive the same number of flies. This is a function of time, labor, and materials cost. So, if you’re like Glenn, and asked for soft-hackles and wets for trout, you’re probably going to get a dozen flies. Steve wanted some early season striper patterns; those are more involved and the materials harder to source, so I sent him a half dozen. If someone wanted a complex pattern like the Countermeasure, it might be as little as three. As one of my kids’ teachers used to say, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.”

Enjoy your weekend, and catch ’em up!

A Busy April: Speaking Engagements and the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show!

It’s a busy month for me, between fishing and writing and speaking about fly fishing. Here are the details:

Monday, April 11: “The Little Things” with the Miami Valley Fly Fishers. This is a members-only Zoom. I mention it in case you’re the person in charge of finding a a speaker for your fly fishing club. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we can meet up even if we are geographically undesirable. Here’s a link to my current presentation menu. I’m really looking forward to making some new fishing friends in Ohio.

Tuesday, April 12: “The Little Things 2.0” with SEMASS TU, at the Mitchell Memorial Club in Middleboro, MA. This meeting is open to the public, so if you’re in the area, stop in and enjoy the show.

Thursday, April 21, “Tactical Advantage: Angler vs Trout” with FVTU, at the Back Nine Tavern in New Britain, CT. Another meeting that is open to the public, and a presentation that most people have not seen.

Friday-Sunday, April 22-23-24, The Fly Fishing Show, Marlborough, MA. On Friday 4/22 at 2:30pm, I’ll be the Featured Fly Tier. Come watch me tie up Spiders, Winged & Wingless Wets. (I had a blast doing this in Edison!) Don’t go away, because at 4:30pm I’m presenting my new seminar, Modern Wet Fly Strategies. I think this is my best program to date, and I’m counting on you to be there. Both are included with the price of your admission ticket. On Saturday 4/23 I have a class, Tying and Fishing Wet Flies. This is a chance to get some basic tying instruction, along with tips on rigging and presentation, geared toward making you a dangerous wet fly machine. This is paid class; you have to pre-register to attend. I’m hoping to see plenty of currentseams readers at the show — please come say hello!

You can see me tie the Magic Fly, aka the Pale Watery Wingless, hear about how to fish it, and learn why it makes such a deadly sulphur imitation at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough. Plus — need I say it? — tons more information on soft hackles, wet flies, and wet fly fishing.

Edison 2022 Redux: a great show, weather and Covid be damned

With the Edison Fly Fishing Show in the books, I thought it deserved a detailed re-cap. The bad news was that not only did the show have to contend with the still-looming specter of Covid, it lock had a double whammy of an incoming snowstorm Friday night into all day Saturday. The good news is that The Fly Fishing Show continues to be a tremendous experience regardless of what’s going on in the outside world. Where else can you meet and speak to and learn from some of the best tyers and anglers on the planet?

Being a risk-averse kind of guy, I wore my N95 mask both days, even when I was presenting. (I’d say the majority of people attending were masked.) The exhibitor turnout was smaller than usual. (Since I’m not a gear junkie, this didn’t really affect my experience. Give me the Keough booth and Badger Creek, both present this year, and I’m happy.) After a year’s hiatus, it was great to see old friends, and have the opportunity to make new ones. The Friday crowd was lighter than usual due to the impending storm. Saturday’s crowd was small, but surprisingly larger than I’d expected, what with much of the northeast locked down in a blizzard. Sunday was predictably busy, by far the best crowd of the weekend. Looking back, I wish I’d taken more photos. But here are a few to tide you over.

Not a bad lineup! This was Saturday’s schedule in just one of the seminar rooms. Seriously, this has to be the best bargain in all of fly fishing. For the price of admission you get to see and talk to George Daniel, Pat Dorsey, Andy Mill, Ed Engle, Tim Flagler, Joe Cordeiro, and a whole bunch of other great anglers I didn’t mention. I debuted my seminar Modern Wet Fly Strategies on Friday, drew a decent crowd, and we followed it up with some engaging Q&A. Shades of the Sunday ice storm in Marlborough three years ago: I feared that no one would show up for my Finding Small Stream Nirvana gig on Saturday (I had the first slot of the day). Not to worry! Thanks so much to everyone who attended.
The flatwing dudes, Joe and Greg Cordeiro, had a great stash of saddles and longer peacock herl. Since it was a slow day, they helped me rummage through the Keough bins in my never-ending search for a decent red grizzly saddle, which, I’m delighted to say, Joe found for me.
I wish I had a photo of my first ever tying demo at The Fly Fishing Show. Being a Featured Fly Tier was a great experience. You’re mic’d up, you’re on a large screen TV, and the audience sits in front of you. You basically have an hour, and I managed to cover a spider/soft hackle, wingless wet, and winged wet. Since this all happened on Saturday at the height of the storm, I was again concerned that no one would show. Once again, not to worry! I had one of the better crowds, and I believe we all had a good time. Another pleasant surprise was my Saturday class. Since it was a smaller group (thanks again everyone for showing up!) we were able to tailor it to meet everyone’s needs, which was very gratifying. I can’t remember a faster 150 minutes.
The guide booths also represent a tremendous opportunity to learn about a specific fishery. I’m already what you’d call Block Island-savvy, but if you’re not, my buddies Captain Hank (foreground) and Captain Willi from Block Island Fishworks are a fantastic resource for all things Block. We spent a good chunk of time on Friday talking about last year’s fishing, and salivating at the prospects for this year. They do spin fishing, too. A family charter is a most excellent way to spend a day.

And that about wraps it up. Don’t forget that the Marlborough show was postponed to April 22-23-24. I know it’s right when we’d all like to be out fishing, but I encourage everyone to support the show, and take advantage of its opportunities.

Thank you, APTU, for a wonderful wet fly Zoom!

Last night I presented Wet Flies 2.0 to the Ashokan-Pepacton Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited. I’m sure we would have all liked to have done it in person, but Zoom being the next best thing, we had at it, and a pleasant time was had by all. (Really good questions, group!) Thanks so much for being so welcoming, and let’s do it again, hopefully in person. Tonight, it’s The Little Things with Philadelphia’s Main Line Fly-Tyers, also via Zoom.

Tip of the week: When you’re matching the hatch with wet flies, pay attention to size and color. These are a bunch of Hendrickson soft hackles (with several variants in the mix). The trout liked all of them, and why not? They generally match the naturals in size and color.

“Spiders, Winged & Wingless Wets” tying demo added to Edison Fly Fishing Show

I was recently added as a “Featured Fly Tier” at the Fly Fishing Show in Edison, NJ, Saturday, January 29 at 12:30pm. The focus will be wet flies, specifically Spiders, Winged & Wingless Wets. It’s going to be a busy Saturday with a seminar (Finding Small Stream Nirvana), this demo, and a wet fly tying class, but busy is good! Please take the time to come say hello.

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A classic North Country spider, the Grey Partridge (Grey Watchet). I’ve always admired the look of this fly. Trout like it, too. Wet flies are generally very simple ties, but there are nuances to the art form. Come to my tying demo in Edison and see for yourself.

New seminar “Modern Wet Fly Strategies” debuts next Friday in Edison

I just finished rehearsing my new seminar, Modern Wet Fly Strategies. Folks, I’m really excited about this one! It’s almost entirely new material, with lots of new video. It’s a bit more fast-paced than previous presentations, and it represents my deepest dive yet into the ancient and traditional art of wet fly fishing.

“Modern Wet Fly Strategies” makes its debut next week at the Edison Fly Fishing Show, Friday, January 28, 4:30pm in the Catch Room. You’re coming, right?

Want more details? Here you go: Modern Wet Fly Strategies builds on the basics of Wet Flies 101 and expands on the tactics of Wet Flies 2.0. With new video and content, this is a more detailed program about wet flies and wet fly fishing. Topics include matching hatches, situational use of wet fly types, presentation options, gear, and the tactical use of wet flies under varying conditions and situations. A must for anyone who wants to improve his or her subsurface game!

Here’s a little sneak peak, part of a promo video I made for the Fly Fishing Show. Don’t forget, I’m also teaching a class on Saturday, January 29, at 2:00pm: Tying and Fishing Wet Flies with Steve Culton: Learn to tie and fish classic North Country spiders and other wet flies that trout can’t resist. The course also covers basics like leader construction, fly selection, where to fish wet flies, and how to fish them. Intermediate.  Click HERE for details and to register.

Tuesday Zooms on hiatus, 900 followers, and man, do I desperately need to go fishing!

Greetings, fellow fly addicts. I don’t know how many of you are football fans, but I binge-watched the entire slate of wild card weekend games…and there’s still one more game to go. But, I digress. To the subjects at hand.

For the last two winters, I’ve held Tuesday Night Zooms — little fireside fly fishing chats over the internet. If you’ve participated, you know these were fun, informal presentations. It was a fantastic way for us to safely connect in these challenging pandemic times, and I’m grateful for the number of people who chose to spend an hour with me. I’ve made the decision to suspend those Zooms at least until after the Super Bowl. Part of it is trying to build up excitement for the Edison Fly Fishing Show (you’re coming, right?). Part of it is that I’m socked in editing film and building two new presentations, Modern Wet Fly Strategies and Finding Small Stream Nirvana. And part of it is other writing commitments (teaser: it involves flatwings and herring and striped bass). I may try to do a few later this winter. We’ll see how it goes. Don’t forget the Marlborough Show in April!

It’s a midgey time of year, whether small streams or the big water of Church Pool. Smut No. 1 is your friend, fished wet or dry or as the top dropper on your nymph rig.

I see currentseams has reached the 900 followers mark. Hooray! We will be having our usual celebration of a random drawing fly giveaway. As per policy, I’ll wait a bit to make sure that number doesn’t fall below the bar. Stay tuned for the announcement.

Lastly, dagnabbit, I have yet to fish in the New Year. Damn all this work. Methinks I need to throw responsibility to the four winds and play hooky. Hmmmmm….

Farmington River Report 8/1/21: Let’s be careful with those water temps

In a normal summer, August water temps are not an issue on a tailwater like the Farmington. When you get into an extended heat/drought matrix, it’s easy to see how water temperatures can get dangerously high for trout. Less obvious is our current situation. As a result of blowing so much water out of the reservoir — July was the third wettest month on record — the lake is now less temperature stratified. What’s coming out of the bottom isn’t in the upper 50s, but rather in the mid-60s. The issue becomes one of day and night-time air temperatures, and sunshine. Lower and lesser is better. The one current saving grace is that there is still a lot of water moving through the system, and more water means it’s harder to heat up. (Yesterday was 540cfs in the Permanent TMA, and 610cfs in Unionville.)

So, please try to use common sense. Check water temps before fishing, and pick and choose your locations (closer to the dam is better) and times (morning is best, cloudy days, and after the sun goes behind the hills also works) — not to mention your tippet and landing strategies. With that in mind, I was curious about both water temperatures and trout vitality. I fished a mark below the Permanent TMA for an hour yesterday, late afternoon. The water temp was below 70. It was a fast-moving, riffly/pocket water section that was sure to be highly oxygenated. I was fishing a team of three wets with Maxima Ultragreen 4#, which is strong enough to quickly land any Farmington River trout. Finally, I resolved to strip in anything I hooked fast. I stuck four fish and landed two. The two I landed were brought to net in under 15 seconds. They both looked and behaved like very healthy fish, with no signs of stress.

This was a surprise. Given the conditions, I debated the merits of taking a photo, but I can tell you this with certainty: the char was landed in 10 seconds, kept within the net in moving, oxygenated water, then removed for 3 seconds for the photo. All we can do is our best.

Currentseams Tuesday Night Zoom 3/23/21, 8pm: “Tying Wet Flies”

It’s getting to be that time of year when we can think about not dredging the bottom and start fishing in the upper reaches of the water column. We’re talking wet flies for this Currentseams Tuesday Night Zoom, and I’ll be telling you about the materials and hooks I use to tie these simple, traditional, and devastatingly effective flies. Bonus: I’ll throw in a tying demo. If you haven’t been getting the Zoom links — I send them out Tuesday late afternoon — please check your spam box. If you’re sending a request to get on the list, please don’t wait until 7:45 p.m. Tuesday night…I won’t be checking my email that late. Thanks!