Presentation is everything in fly fishing.

Presentation is so important — the only thing that’s more important is a sharp hook — that I thought I would share some of the critical points from last’s night’s Zoom. Thanks to everyone who attended — we had a great turnout. In no particular order:

The wrong fly presented correctly will always out fish the right fly presented incorrectly. I showed a video that demonstrated this.

When you’re deciding on which line, leader length and size, and fly pattern, ask this question: What do you want the fly to do? The best answer should reflect what the fish are eating and how they’re eating it.

Fly fishing is all about line control, and a floating line gives you, by far, the most control over your presentation in current. The importance of mending cannot be overstated. Even slight, nearly imperceptible mends that produce a more natural drift can mean the difference between fishing and catching.

A sinking line and a weighted fly are usually a poor choice for catching fish feeding near the surface. Would you toss a Tungsten cone head Woolly Bugger to trout feeding on Hendrickson emergers?

This 15-pound bass came on one of those nights where anglers leaving the mark complained about fish busting that they couldn’t catch. They were using the wrong line, the wrong fly, and the wrong presentation. Learn the value of presentation, and watch your catch rates soar!

A longer leader will give you a better dry fly drift, and allow you to make more mends without disturbing the natural track of the fly.

“The difference between fishing and catching is a single split shot.” Attributed to Joe Humphries. Regardless of the originator, it’s good advice when you’re nymphing. Adjust your weight to get the most productive drift.

See you next Tuesday.

Best of 2020 #8: The Fly Fishing Shows

When people ask me about my fishing job, I break it down into three parts: guiding/tying/teaching, writing, and presentations. I love all three, but I think my favorite is presenting. I get to teach fly fishing (I’m passionate about doing so, and I believe that’s reflected in my energy and delivery) and I get to meet people and talk about fly fishing face-to-face. That last bit may sound strange coming from an introvert. I feel blessed to have this site, and Zooms are then next best thing to being there, but no computer interface can replace a handshake (elbow bump these days) and a smile.

At the time we had no way of knowing that the 2020 Marlborough and Edison Fly Fishing Shows would be the last for a while. (There’s talk about doing some parts of those shows remotely in 2021, but at this time I don’t have any information to share. If you want to re-live the 2020 shows, here are my 2020 Marlborough and 2020 Edison recaps.) I think I made the most of it, with big room seminars, Destination Theater presentations, and something new for me, a wet fly tying class. Thank you to everyone who came out to meet, greet, and listen. Thanks to my industry friends for your kindness and giving energy. I’m looking forward to resuming in 2022!

Fly fishing is so serious….or not. I love these guys: Jason Randall (partially obscured by Ed Engle) and George Daniel. If you haven’t read their stuff or seen them speak, you should.

Reminder: “The Little Things” public Zoom event, October 14 7:00pm

For those new to currentseams (or those who simply forgot or missed the original message) a reminder that I’ll be presenting “The Little Things 3.0” via Zoom on Wednesday, October 14, at 7:00pm. This Zoom is part of the Russell Library One Book series, and you need to pre-register through the library. The event is limited to 48 participants — at last count there were less than 20 spaces remaining — and you must pre-register here. You cannot register through me or this website, and this is not part of the Zoom series I conducted earlier this year. Hope to see you virtually there!

Rich rewards await those anglers who pay attention to the little things.

This is how we do it

No fishing today, but lots of writing. Polishing an article and starting to build some new presentations. I’m so fortunate to have this job, and it’s all because of readers and anglers like you. Here’s the scene from currentseams headquarters:


A Full Slate of Fall Presentations

Fall is booking up fast! I have four presentations in the next four weeks all over the northeast:

“Trout Fishing For Striped Bass,” Wednesday, September 26, Narragansett TU 225, West Greenwich, RI, 7pm. Everybody welcome. You can get more information here.

“Wet Flies 101,”,  Tuesday, October 9, SEMASS TU 241, Middleborough, MA, 7:30pm. Everybody welcome. You can get more information here.

“Wet Flies 101,” Wednesday, October 17, Long Island Chapter TU, 7:30pm, Hicksville, NY. Everybody welcome. You can get more information here.

“The Little Things,” Thursday, October 25, Taconic Chapter TU, 6:00pm, Cork ‘n’ Hearth, Laurel Street, Lee, MA. Everybody welcome. You can get more information here.

Hope to see you there, and if you’re a currentseams reader or follower, please come say hello.

Hightail it to one of these meetings!





Summer Presentation: “The Little Things” at the Long Island Fly Rodders, Tuesday, August 1

Most fishing clubs go on summer hiatus. Not the Long Island Fly Rodders. In fact, they’ve booked yours truly to kick off their fall meeting season with “The Little Things.” I’ve heard rumors of a pre-meeting barbecue, so how can I resist?  Tuesday, August 1, 6:30pm, at the Levittown VFW Hall, 55 Hickory Lane, Levittown, NY. For more information, visit

Speaking of presentations, I’m currently working on “The Little Things 3.0” and an as yet untitled one on how I fish for striped bass.

If you want to catch big stripers like her, pay attention to the little things. (Using a floating line and learning the greased line swing doesn’t hurt, either.)


TU225 Awarded the Order of the Triple Jalapeño Cheeseburger (with Octoberfest Clusters)

TU225 in Narragansett, RI, has been a long-time friend. They were hiring me to do presentations when I was a nobody (or at least far less of whatever I am today). I truly appreciate their continuous support and kindness. Last night they treated me to dinner (a fed presenter is a happy presenter), and then we had the debut performance of “The Little Things 2.0.” I think it did not suck. But you’d have to ask them.

Afterwards, I went striper fishing. School bass were set up in the current, ambushing silversides on the outgoing tide. Today I notice that parts of my right index finger, thumb, and palm are destroyed.

Yes, it was a very good evening.

Last night’s power supply brought new meaning to the phrase, “the dangle.”


Fly fishing club guest speaker coordinators, have I got a presentation for you!

Please forgive the shameless immodesty — it’s all meant in good fun. I really am excited about this one, though. It’s a follow-up to The Little Things — hence the highly imaginative title, The Little Things 2.0. You can read more about it here.


Steve Culton featured speaker at Fly Fishers Club of Harrisburg 69th Annual Dinner

Indeed I was this past Friday night. (You must forgive me, dear reader, for the unabashed title. I’m just engaging in a little SEO gamesmanship.)

The Fly Fishers Club of Harrisburg is unlike any other organization I’ve presented to. They don’t have any dues. There is no formal membership. They meet only once a year at their banquet. The Club is regarded as the second oldest fly fishing club in the US, and was founded by people with names like Charlie Fox and Vince Marinaro.  The nearly 200 attendees — the largest group I’ve ever presented to — ranged in age from 11 to what I’m guessing were octogenarians. So I was quite honored that they deemed me worthy of being their featured speaker.

I got to sit at the cool table. Red dot means beef is what’s for dinner.



No black tie this year, but as you can see the banquet has always been a rather civilized affair.  Seems I’ve heard of that guest speaker somewhere…



The Club has some cool traditions, such as the Traveling Rod. Every year a name is drawn, and the winner gets to take the rod wherever and report back on its adventures. Part of the deal is a fishing log book; the winner writes a one-page year-in-review. Recognize that first recipient?



What would a fly fishing club meeting be without a raffle? This young man was the winner of the dozen wet flies I tied, James Leisenring’s “favorite twelve.” It’s a decent enough mounting job, but I hope these soft hackles spend some time in the water — and tucked into the corner of a trout’s mouth.



How fitting that they put a winged wet on my name badge. In the interest of full disclosure, I failed to return the plastic holder as instructed. My bad. If they want it back, I guess they’ll just have to invite me to speak again.



My presentation was “The Little Things.”  It’s a thought-proving 45 minutes that usually generates plenty of good questions. The audience did not let me down.



Last but not least, I’d like to offer up two of the most important words in our language: thank you. Thank you Fly Fishers Club of Harrisburg. For being so kind and welcoming. For the delicious dinner and libations (a fed presenter is a happy presenter). And for giving me the opportunity to present to you.

Let’s do this again, shall we?



Presentation menu for fishing clubs and events

One of the more rewarding aspects of being a part of the fishing-industrial complex is sharing experiences and information face-to-face with fellow flyfishers. I’m a national-level speaker who loves teaching, and that positive energy comes across in my highly entertaining and interactive presentations. I also do an audience Q&A session after each seminar. Some clubs like to invite their speaker out to dinner; I try to accommodate those requests whenever possible. Rates vary according to travel time and expenses. And of course, Zoom presentations are the perfect way for us to gather across the miles and time zones. To book an appearance, or for more information, please email me at swculton at, or call 860-918-0228. For references and testimonials, please see the comments section below.


WET FLIES 2.0 (Updated Winter 2021)

Wet Flies 2.0 takes a deeper dive into wet flies and wet fly fishing. Starting with the essential wet fly tackle and toolbox, Wet Flies 2.0 explores topics like matching hatches with wet flies (from caddis to mayflies to midges to stoneflies to terrestrials); searching tactics with wet flies; presentation and rigging options to match conditions and situations; fishing wet flies as nymphs or dry flies; wet flies on small streams; and much more! If your group has not yet seen Wet Flies 101, I strongly recommend you start with that introductory presentation.



As the title suggests, Wet Flies 101 is my introductory presentation on wet fly fishing. Wet flies have been taking trout for centuries — and the fish aren’t getting any smarter. More and more anglers are discovering that a wet fly is often the best way to match a hatch. Explore the wonders of the wet fly as we cover basics like wet fly types, leader construction, where to fish wet flies, and how to fish them.



The Little Things is a series of some of my most popular presentations. There are currently three The Little Things, each one different and loaded with priceless information that will up your catch rate in fresh or saltwater. This is the original seminar. They say that 10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish. If that’s true, it’s not because those 10% are supernaturally gifted angling demigods. It’s not because they are lucky. It’s because they do a lot of little things that other anglers don’t. As a guide, I have the opportunity to observe how people fish. I see their mistakes as well as their triumphs. When I’m fishing, I am constantly making adjustments and trying new approaches. That’s what The Little Things is all about – seemingly insignificant practices that can make a big difference in your fishing.



If you liked the original, you’re going to love the sequel. We’re all looking for an edge when it comes to catching more fish. It is my firm belief that the little things are largely responsible for the fabled 10% of the anglers who catch 90% of the fish. The Little Things 2.0 builds on the theme of seemingly insignificant things you can do make your time on the water more productive. As with all seminars in this series, the lessons apply to multiple species fly fishing in fresh or saltwater.




The Little Things 3.0: In this third installment, we cover more of the seemingly insignificant things that can have a huge impact on your catch rate. This is all new material, geared for both veteran and rookie fly anglers, covering fresh and saltwater, and popular species from trout to stripers to steelhead to smallmouth and more. Pay attention to the little things, and you may become one of the 10% who catches 90% of the fish.




Anyone can catch aggressive, willing-to-chase striped bass. But what about the stripers that are holding on station, feeding on a specific bait? What about the larger bass — those that are measured in pounds instead of inches — that are not willing to chase a stripped fly? Many of the answers can be found within traditional trout and salmon tactics. Trout Fishing For Striped Bass reveals that stripers behave very much like trout. By taking a more analytic approach to striper fishing, matching flies to bait, and harnessing the power of the floating line, anglers can present flies like the naturals the stripers are feeding on — and begin to catch the striped bass that everyone can’t.



Updated in Fall 2019 with new video, photos, and content. Those who live in or near southern New England are fortunate to be close to one of the finest trout streams on the east coast. The secret is out — this is blue ribbon trout water. There’s something for everyone on the Farmington: Classic dry fly pools. Mysterious pockets for nymphing. Spirited runs for swinging wets and deep holes for drifting streamers. A classic tailwater, the Farmington fishes well year round, and offers anglers an opportunity to catch stocked as well as holdover and stream-born wild trout.



The only trout that is native to most of the eastern U.S., the brook trout — technically a char — has inspired generations of anglers with its stunning colors, aggressive nature, and often lovely habitat. The Eastern Brook Trout gives an overview of the species, its habitat and habits, and then the basics of small stream wild brookie fishing — from tackle to presentations to where to find brook trout water. Eastern brook trout populations continue to decline, and the more you know about these precious jewels, the better an environmental steward you’ll be.