Edison 2023, or: The Most Fun You Can Have With A Vise And A Projector

What a fantastic Fly Fishing Show in Edison! I was there for two whirlwind days, stretching the space-time continuum and pushing the fun barrier to its limits. Many, many thanks to everyone who came to a seminar, took a class, watched me tie, or simply stopped to say hello. My apologies if I had to rush off mid-conversation — my schedule was literally back-to-back on both days. If I didn’t get to answer a question or talk fly fishing, you know where to find me.

One of the things I look forward to most is reconnecting with old and new friends. So the first thing I did Friday morning was head straight for the Blue Quill Angler booth to hang out with Chris Steinbeck and Pat Dorsey. I’ve only known Pat for a year, and Chris for even less, but I can tell you these are two people who make the fly fishing world a better place. Chris was my guide in Colorado in August and he taught me a lot. Highly recommended if you’re ever fishing the South Platte.
Walking Tyers’ Row is always a good use of your time. I can’t tell you the number of patterns or techniques that I see every show that I want to try. Like Celebrities, all the tyers are very approachable and ready to discuss tying and fishing. This is Chester Rosocha, my tying tablemate from the International Fly Tying Symposium back in November.
Not a bad lineup! What an honor to be on the same list as these luminaries. Friday was the “easier” of my two days — a seminar, then a Destination Theater talk, then a class. I had a good crowd for the seminar, Finding Small Stream Nirvana, and we had a long follow-up discussion. The DT talk, Wet Flies 101, was also well-attended. I’ve hopefully created some more dangerous wet fly machines. Saturday I was literally running from one place to the next. I got so caught up in the Modern Wet Fly Strategies Q&A session that I forgot I had to be in the DT in five minutes. I was thrilled to have such a large crowd watch me as Featured Fly Tier, and even more thrilled that every hackle I selected for my wet flies and spiders behaved. A shout out and thanks you to everyone who saw me speak, and to those who took my classes. I hope you hit the water this year ready to try some new ideas and new flies.
It’s hard to make out that guy on the left, but yes, it’s me, doing what I love most — helping people become better anglers. This is from Modern Wet Fly Strategies. See you at the CFFA Show this Saturday!

Edison Fly Fishing Show this Weekend

Not for nothin’, but this is the biggest fly fishing show in the world, and I couldn’t be more stoked to be a part of it. There’s still time to register for my tying classes, Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass on Friday, January 27 at 2pm, and Tying and Fishing Wet Flies on Saturday, January 28 at 2pm. You must pre-register for these classes and you can do that here.

I’ve also got a full slate of presentations and tying demos on Friday and Saturday. Come see me as Featured Fly Tier at 12:30pm on Saturday! The topic is Spiders, Winged, and Wingless Wets.

I made a one-page, one side PDF of my 2023 Edison schedule for handy reference. Hope to see you at the show, and if you come, please say hello.

The Marlborough Fly Fishing Show is just two weeks away.

And I’m getting all fired up! It’s a busy show schedule for me this year, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here are some details on what I’m doing. Finding Small Stream Nirvana is a new presentation; I’ve only done it once, at Edison last year during a blizzard to a small, dedicated audience. It covers the basics of small stream fishing, and goes into gear, tactics, and even how to find your own little slice of thin blue line heaven. My Featured Fly Tyer appearance, Presentation Flies For Striped Bass, will cover some basic patterns I use that create the illusion of life even when at rest. Sparse, impressionistic, and proven, every one of them. I’ll go into that topic in far great depth, including tactics and gear, at my seminar, Beyond Cast and Strip. I debuted that one last November at the International Fly Tying Symposium, and if you want to start catching more (and bigger) striped bass, this one is not to be missed. All of these are included with your show admission.

In Saturday’s class, Tying and Fishing Wet Flies, we’ll tie three basic patterns and talk about presentation and tactics. You must pre-register for this class, and you can do that HERE. If you want to become a dangerous wet fly machine, this is a great way to start. As is my 2pm talk, Modern Wet Fly Strategies, a deeper dive into the ancient and traditional art of catching dozens of fish.

Sunday’s 8:30am class, Presentation Flies for Striped Bass, also requires pre-registration, and you can do that HERE. We’re going to tie and talk and get you on the path to catching the stripers that everyone else can’t. We’ll wrap things up with Hot Bronze: Wade Fishing for Smallmouth. Pound-for-pound, smallmouth are among the most belligerent, obstreperous things that swim, and I’m beyond addicted to catching them.

When I’m not teaching (or sitting in on other’s talks) I’ll be walking the show floor. Please come say hello!

Steve Culton Appearance & Class Schedule for the Edison Fly Fishing Show, Jan 27-28-29

It’s no secret that the Edison Fly Fishing Show is the biggest, bestest fly fishing show going! I’m pleased to announce that I will be appearing once again as a presenter, instructor, and fly tier. The Edison Show runs three days, January 27, 28, and 29; I’ll be there on Friday the 27th and Saturday the 28th. Here’s my schedule:

Friday, January 27: 10:15am, Seminar, Catch Room, Finding Small Stream NirvanaNoon, Destination Theater Room BWet Flies 101. 2:00pm-4:30pmClasses With The Experts, Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass. You must pre-register for this class. Admission to the show is included in the cost of any class registration for that day.

Presentation flies work even when at rest. I caught my largest bass of 2022 on this presentation fly, the R.L.S. Sure Thing.

Saturday, January 28: 9:45am, Seminar, Strike Room, Modern Wet Fly Strategies11:00am, Destination Theater Room DLost Secrets of Legendary Anglers 12:30pm, main show floor, Featured Fly Tier, Spiders, Winged, and Wingless Wets. 2:00pm-4:30pmClasses With The Experts, Tying and Fishing Wet Flies. You must pre-register for this class. Admission to the show is included in the cost of any class registration for that day.

Overlooked and under-utilized, wet flies are a must-have in your fly box if you want to catch more fish. Learn how to tie and fish these lethal patterns in my class, Tying and Fishing Wet Flies.

As always, I’m hoping for a big turnout from my readers and followers. When I’m not doing a class or demo or speaking, you can find me walking the show floor. Please come say hello! I love putting names to faces.

2022 International Fly Tying Symposium Redux: Too much fun

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.

So much to do and see, so little time! And this is just Saturday. Plus classes, plus the show floor (tiers and marketplace) — it all makes for a busy weekend. This was a new wet fly presentation, which drew an excellent crowd for its debut. In the afternoon, I conducted a wet fly tying class which also went very well. Six very enthusiastic students who made their instructor’s job easy. We covered the basics of soft hackles, wingless, and winged wets.
One of the best parts about big shows like this is the possibility that you’ll run across some new materials you didn’t know you needed. I saw these at Tim Flagler’s table and had to have some. Look closely at the packaging and you can see that someone has a potty mind (albeit in good fun). The USP of Tye Sticks is that they have a monofilament core that extends past the material butt end, making them a breeze to attach to a hook. You can find these online using the company name. (I have no affiliation with the brand.)
I also scored some nice bucktails from Brad Buzzi, and some 30-yard spools of Bill’s Bodi Braid. I’ve had enough of buying those cards with a measly 3 or 4 yards of material, so I stocked up on these three staple colors and left happy.
My Sunday seminar, Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass, starting to fill up. This was another great group, and we stayed out past curfew for a long and engaging Q&A session. Another debut presentation. I want to thank everyone who took the time to come hear me speak, attended my class, or just say hello. You made my first IFTS highly enjoyable!
My crowning achievement of the weekend took place Saturday night at the banquet. (Did I mention that if you attended the banquet, you received a gift bag loaded with fly tying materials, tools, hooks, beads…all good quality, highly useful stuff. I’ll try to remember to take a photo of the bounty for a future post.) I sat at the table with the Italian contingent– this was, after all, the International Fly Tying Symposium — who spoke varying degrees of English ranging from a little to virtually none. They had brought along a couple bottles from the old country, and were eager to share. My kind of crowd! Then, a gentleman from the hotel materialized and tried to explain that we could not bring our own booze and open it in the dining room. Seizing the opportunity, I explained the situation, focusing mostly on the fact that this wine came special all the way from Italy, and our colleagues were most eager to share in the spirit of international goodwill, and that if you, Mr. Hotel Man, can figure out how to tell them in Italian — OK, so maybe I exaggerated a wee bit on their total lack of command of the English language — that they can’t have their wine, please do so. Next thing I know, he’s saying never mind, and he’ll be right back with some wine glasses for the table. Salute!

Farmington River Report 5/4/22: Making our own luck

I guided Gerry and Sam today, and while Gerry did most of the fishing, a splendid time was had by all. The subject of today’s lesson was wet flies. We spent about 45 minutes on a bench for some streamside classroom, then Gerry and I went to work. Our first mark was in the upper end of the Permanent TMA. Flow was a reasonable 360cfs, but the water is still very cold, and we had rain showers that seemed to bring what little feeding activity there was to a screeching halt. (This was to be today’s pattern: active fish, then stop. Wait a bit. Then more feeding, or no feeding at all. Wait for it.) We managed one hookup, then decided to seek our pleasure elsewhere.

Mark #2 was in the lower end of the TMA. By now, the rain had stopped. There were no Hendricksons that we saw, and a few size 16 BWOs here and there. Nothing much was going on in terms of visible feeders — and then, as so often happens, suddenly it was on. A rise here. A boil there. Gerry was fishing a team of a size 12 Squirrel and Ginger, a size 12 Dark Hendrickson winged wet, and a size 14 Old Blue Dun. Fish on! Then another. And another. The fish, a mix of rainbows and browns, ate all three flies. A half dozen trout in an hour doesn’t suck, and we gleefully took our bounty and ran.

Another satisfied customer. Gerry is now officially on the path to becoming a dangerous wet fly machine. Even though the fishing was off today, he kept at it, trusted the method, and was repeatedly rewarded with bend rod syndrome. Way to go, Gerry!

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!

Getting (Winged and Wingless) Wet on a Saturday

Many thanks for the enthusiastic group of students who attended yesterday’s virtual fly tying class. We tackled the subject of winged and wingless wets (both how to tie and how to fish, although the focus was largely on the tying part). I appreciate your passion and energy, and I’ve received some excellent questions via email. Next tying class is TBD, both date and subject, although we discussed topics like streamers, proven local nymphs, and some saltwater/flatwings, too. Of course, I’d love to hear from you, since you’re the customer. Tie on, and dream about those sharp tugs that are coming this April.

The fruits of our labor, clockwise from bottom: Red or Brown Hackle, Pale Watery Wingless (AKA The Magic Fly), Dark Hendrickson winged wet.

2nd Zoom Fly Tying Event: “Tying Wingless and Winged Wets” Saturday, January 30, 1pm

By popular demand, I’m doing a second winter fly tying pay-per-Zoom event on Saturday, January 30 at 1pm. Like the first, 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 swculton@yahoo.com) and I’ll send you the link to the meeting. Tying Wingless and Winged Wets will cover some basic, useful patterns. Again, the focus is on template and technique. You should have different color threads, different hooks, tools, etc. You should have at least one hen hackle/hen cape — Whiting makes a good basic hen hackle. The “right” color is not critical, but if you want to go all in you should have light or dark grey, light ginger, and brown. 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 three patterns: Dark Hendrickson Winged Wet (Hook: 2x strong wet fly size 12 Thread: Grey Tail: Dark blue dun hackle fibers Body: Muskrat fur (any grey dubbing works) Hackle: Dark blue dun hen Wing: Lemon wood duck (mallard flank can be used in a pinch); Pale Water Wingless AKA The Magic Fly (Hook: 1x fine, size 16-20. Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk, primrose yellow (you can use regular yellow thread) Hackle: Light ginger hen Tail: Light ginger hen hackle fibers
Body: Rabbit fur, color to match the natural; and Brown or Red Hackle (Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-14 Silk: Crimson or claret Hackle: Red furnace (brown is fine, even grey) Rib: Narrow gold tinsel Body: Bronze peacock herl). Like last time I’ll answer questions and you can pick my brain.

Stuff like this. Yeah. I can already feel the tug…

Best of 2020 #3: Hendrickson Wet Fly Mania

When I give a wet fly lesson, I always tell my clients this: “If you hit a hatch just right, you can have one of those days you’ll never forget.” And it so it was for me on a cool afternoon in April. Hendrickson season can be tough on the Farmington, especially if you’re looking for an unoccupied mark. But sometimes luck smiles upon you, and on this day it was so. The run I wanted to fish was on lockdown, but just as I arrived, an angler left, leaving a prime lie open. Armed with a three fly team of wets, I proceeded to wreak havoc upon the residents. This was one of those days where I quickly lost count of fish, but it was easily in the multiple dozens range. (Fresh fish + epic Hendrickson hatch + wet flies = stupid good.) I had doubles galore. I finally quit because it was so ridiculous for so long. Really. You can read about it here.

I had several evenings of spectacular wet fly action during the sulphur hatches of 2020, but nothing that equaled the craziness of this day of Hendrickson mania! If the water is 450cfs+, or if you want to sink your team a little more, try this tungsten bead head Dark Hendrickson soft hackle on point.