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!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org) 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…
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.
I guided Michael yesterday from 2pm-6pm. Michael is new to fly fishing, so we had a lot to work on. We stayed within the Permanent TMA, where conditions were excellent: 280cfs flow and water plenty cold. Hatch and feeding activity was again low, although we did experience a 15-minute window where there was something going on underwater and the feed was on. We spent the first half of the lesson on indicator drop-shot nymphing. Once Michael got used to the nuances of the rig, he stuck four fish. Great job, Michael, on a day when the bite was slow. (A seasoned angler remarked to us as we were gearing down that the fishing “stunk today.”) We finished up swinging wets and managed a juvenile Atlantic Salmon. So, while I was disappointed in the activity, I was excited to watch Michael’s skills develop in a matter of hours.
Hey, this indicator nymphing thing really works! Our first fish was a rainbow that treated us to a couple of aerials.
After our session I headed upriver where the water was even colder. The evening rise was OK — 5/10 for feeding and hatch activity. What was a learning experience for me was my success presenting a team of three wet flies upstream to feeding fish. I caught four of the six trout I took on wets this way. All the takers were in faster water with a broken, curling surface, all were active feeders, and all took my Light Cahill winged wet or Partridge and Light Cahill flies. Most success I’ve ever had fishing that way. At 8pm I switched over to dries and caught trout well into dark.
This chunky rainbow was slashing at emergers about 30 feet above me. First cast, upstream presentation, dead drift, bang! Light Cahill winged wet. As you can see, this guy’s been caught before. What a handsome fish! Love the spots and coloration.
Sal, the owner of Legends on the Farmington, has authorized me to make the following special offer to currentseams readers: you can now attend my Wet Flies & Soft Hackles class for one day only, Saturday, March 14, dinner included, for just $99!
If you want to catch more fish, you should be tying and fishing wet flies like the Squirrel and Ginger.
What: “Wet Flies and Soft Hackles” is a tying and how-to fishing class. We’ll do plenty of tying (bring your vise, tools, and threads and I’ll supply the rest of the soft-hackled magic) and we’ll have a little classroom presentation/discussion here and there.
When: Saturday, March 14. Starts around 9am. Goes all day, then we enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by Sal.
Where: Legends on the Farmington, a gorgeous lodge on the banks of the river.
How: You cannot sign up/resgister through me or my website. Please contact Sal at email@example.com or visit their site at legendsbnb.com.
This class will sell out, so make haste. See you there!
Tomorrow, Friday, January 24 is my only day at the Edison Fly Fishing Show. Here’s my plan:
Arrive noonish or a little before. Walk the floor, make the rounds, say hello. You can always text me if you’re looking for me — you can find my number here. I’m going to try to catch parts of a few presentations before my Seminar, which is 4:30pm in the Catch Room, Wet Flies 101. Of course, I’ll see you there. Right?
Thank you to everyone for your continued support.
I don’t have my complete schedule, but I can tell you that I will be appearing at the Edison, NJ Fly Fishing Show next month. I have a seminar, Wet Flies 101, in the Catch Room at 4:40pm Friday January 24. I’m hoping to have another gig on Saturday Jan 25th — as soon as I have details, I’ll pass them along to you. Hope to see you there!
Wet flies have been fooling trout for centuries, and the fish aren’t getting any smarter. This big Housy brown was taken this fall on a simple soft hackle.
I’m excited to announce that I’ll be part of the “Classes with the Experts” series at the 2020 Marlborough Fly Fishing Show, Saturday, January 18, 2pm-4:30pm. Here’s the course description: “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.”
To attend you must register, and you cannot do that through me. You need to go to the Fly Fishing Show website. Here’s some more info:
Note: Most tying classes require some experience and others may require more. Ask us when you call. Beginners are welcome, but be prepared for more than basics. All students must bring their own tying vise, tools, lamp if needed, and a sampling of materials. Most classes will provide adequate materials for the patterns being taught. If a class is cancelled, you will be notified 5 days prior to the show and permitted to switch or receive a refund. Bring your own lamp, vise, tools & a basic selection of materials.
To insure quality instruction class size is limited. Call us for more class descriptions or availability. Classes will fill and close, so register early. The tuition charge of $85 includes admission to the show for that day. There are no refunds unless the class is cancelled. You MUST register in advance. For more information call 814-443-3638.
Greetings, fellow currentseamsers. I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday — and for those of you in the northeast, I hope you’ve successfully navigated this wretched early winter storm. On to the fun stuff!
Once again, I will be giving multiple talks at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, MA, January 17, 18 &19, 2020:
Friday, January 17: Tactical Advantage: Angler vs. Trout, 12pm. Destination Theater, Room A. The best trout anglers enjoy a tactical advantage by constantly making adjustments, trying different approaches, following tried-and-true best practices, and fine-tuning their presentations. Here are 15 specific, proven tactics that will give you a decisive edge on your next trout expedition. This is a new presentation, and you can be there for its debut performance.
Friday, January 17, Seminar: Wet Flies 101, 3pm, Release Room. For those of you who have been asking, “When are you going to be presenting ‘Wet Flies 101’ again?,” here’s your answer! This presentation was recently updated, and provides a basic introduction to this ancient and traditional — and did I mention, “highly effective”? — subsurface method.
Saturday, January 18: Lost Secrets of Legendary Anglers, 10am. Destination Theater, Room C. Have you ever wondered which rod Lee Wulff would use in this situation? What does Ken Abrames do before every cast? Where does Joe Humphries think the most productive spot is on any river? These questions and many more will be answered in LSOLA. Culled from literature and personal interviews, this presentation covers 15 proven tactics and strategies used by master anglers, past and present, to catch more fish.
Sunday, January 19: Tactical Advantage: Angler vs. Trout, 10am. Destination Theater, Room B.
Naturally, I expect (and appreciate) a big turnout from you, the loyal currentseams reader. Please come say hello before or after the presentation. And stay tuned for my Edison, NJ appearance schedule.
Show time again. Speaking and teaching and meeting and greeting is one of my favorite parts of this job.