Rejecting the concept of the go-to fly

Are trout anglers smarter than striper anglers? I ask myself this question a lot. I don’t have a definitive answer, but I do know this: no other fly fishing endeavor gets by on a smaller corpus of knowledge than fly fishing for striped bass. As evidence, I offer the phenomenon of the go-to fly.

“What’s your go-to fly?”

You see it all the time on striper forums. It presupposes that there is a single fly solution for all saxatilus situations. Invariably, the usual suspects are rounded up. Now, the Clouser is a great fly (or jig, depending on your level of crustiness). In fact, there was a time when it was my favorite striper fly (really). But a Clouser is not going to serve you well when the bass are holding on station slurping grass shrimp. I go back to the night in Rhode Island when, after several hours of pounding up 10-15 pound bass on Big Eelies, another angler chased me down the beach to ask what fly I was using. He’d learned a hard lesson that sinking lines and weighted flies are a highly unproductive way to fish for bass crashing bait on the surface.

Now, ask a trout angler, “What’s your go-to fly?” If they’re any good, their answer will be, “For which hatch?” Or, “What time of year?” Or, “How am I fishing?” You get the idea. No trout angler worth his Catskills dries would ever approach the Trico spinner fall with a Woolly Bugger by rote.

If you want to catch less fish, fish the go-to fly.  If you want to catch more, go to the fly that best resembles what the fish are feeding on — and fish it how the naturals are behaving.

I love my Big Eelies. But they stay in the box when I’m fishing for bass that are feeding on herring.

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Happy Monday and other items of minor interest

Greetings, fellow reader. Just a note to say hello, give some thanks, and update you on current(seams) events.

I had a blast tying at the CFFA Expo on Saturday. Many thanks to those who gathered ’round my vise, said hello, and asked questions. I escaped the show with a just a patch of opossum fur and a bag o’ tungsten beads. Hopefully you found the treasure you were looking for.

Next up: “Trout Flies for Local Rivers” Tying Demo, Saturday, March 31, 10am-2pm at The Compleat Angler, Darien, CT.  I’ll be tying some of my favorite patterns: wets, dries, nymphs, and streamers, from traditional classics to new designs. These are all high-confidence, proven flies, and I’ll also discuss how and when I like to fish them. For directions and stuff, visit the CA website.

I may also be doing a class at UpCountry. I’ll let you know if that happens.

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Hey, we’re getting close to 600 followers! Once we get there, we’ll do our traditional  fly giveaway. 

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I’m starting to get a lot of inquiries for guiding on the Farmington this spring. As usual, my schedule will be tight with other commitments, and weekends will almost always be out. If you have your mind set on a certain date, that’s fine, but if I were you I’d wait a few weeks to see how the spring shakes out. Remember, the Farmy fishes well year round, so there are plenty of options as we move through April, May, June, July, and beyond. I’ve also had some interest in small stream and striper outings. Those are doable as well. If you want to discuss any of this, please send me an email or call me. You can find my contact info here.

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Finally, the word machine is humming along. I have pieces in the pipeline for American Angler, Field & Stream, Fly Tyer, and more. Stay tuned. And thanks for your loyal support!

Before you know it, you’ll be able to stick your hand in the water without it flash-freezing.

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Tying at the CFFA Expo Saturday, Feb 3rd

Come one, come all to the best little fly fishing show around: the CFFA Expo at Maneely’s in South Windsor, CT, Saturday, February 3 from 9am-3pm. You can find me on Fly Tyers’ Row, and as always I’ll be ready to answer questions or just hang out and talk fishing. I’ll be there through 1pm for sure, as we’ll be celebrating Gordo’s birthday later in the day. You can find the Expo details here.

I’m not sure what I’ll be tying, but the Magic Fly (AKA Pale Watery wingless variant) is always a crowd favorite. I’ll do my best to accommodate requests, time and materials permitting.

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Fun near the Raritan River

In the movie 1776, George Washington sends a dispatch to Congress in which he bemoans the sorry state of the Continental Army. Washington describes the soldiers as drunk, disorderly, and cites them for engaging in such scandalous behavior as “naked bathing in the Raritan River.”

That all sounds like fun, but in January it’s really too cold to seriously consider. So I passed up the chance for some skinny dipping in favor of attending the Edison Fly Fishing Show.

My seminar was the show’s first at 9:45am. With the new venue and labyrinthine passageways to the seminar rooms, I had visions of presenting to a crowd of ten. Not to worry — nearly a hundred people showed up, and I’m told it was one of the largest crowds of the day. Thank you if you were part of the audience.

So that was cool. Afterward I walked the floor, did a little networking, shopping, saying hello to friends, and meeting and greeting. Many thanks if you were one of the people who stopped to chat.

I got out cheap with just one purple flatwing saddle. Next up: the CFFA Show on Saturday, February 3rd. I’ll be tying. Details to come.

Pretty fair company. I caught parts of Rosenbauer’s, Daniel’s, Currier’s, Randall’s, and Mayer’s presentations. Just head thataway.

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Marlborough redux

Well, that was a blast! To start, the weather gods smiled upon my commute, and not even a traffic snarlfest from pothole patching on I-84 could dampen my spirits. Friday’s “Wet Flies 101” seminar drew a sizable crowd, larger than any I’ve presented to at this show. What a great audience — if you were there, thanks for coming. Ditto for Saturday’s “Trout Fishing for Stripers.” I think we all had fun.

I spent a good chunk of both Friday and Saturday walking the show floor, attending other seminars, and shopping. My treasure hunt included a few flatwing saddles and some prized waterhen wings. Did I mention the snipe?

And let’s not forget the social aspect. I enjoyed meeting you (if you’re someone I met) and I’m always happy to answer questions and talk fly fishing.

Finally, a shout out to some of my favorite fellow fly fishing road warriors:

Ed Lombardo, whom I’ve only spent about 15 minutes with in my life, but is one of the nicest people I’ve met. (Ed has presented right after me in consecutive years, so our paths cross during setup.)

Joe Cordeiro, my flatwing brother. Beautiful flies and a swell guy.

Tim Flagler from Tightline Productions. Another kindly soul, and I wish my tying videos looked like his.

Bob Popovics. Did you know that Bob and I share a passion other than fly fishing? It’s roses. Every year we spend a few minutes comparing gardening notes. Another great guy who has always been welcoming and supportive.

John Shaner from Hardy. John has an encyclopedic knowledge of soft hackles. I really enjoyed his presentation. And he tipped me off to the waterhen. Yahtzee!

Jason Randall. We didn’t get a lot of time to hang out, which is too bad because I have around 400 questions and discussion points to share with Jason about nymphing.

The Furimskys (Chuck, Janet, and Ben). Thanks for your kindness and for inviting me to your party.

Speaking of which, if you saw my presentation, please do me a favor: send an email to the show telling him you liked it. Please use info@flyfishingshow.com, not the email I previously posted.

Show swag. Feathery goodness for the intrepid treasure hunter.

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Marlborough Show Reminder

And suddenly, it’s almost here: the 2018 Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, MA. On Friday, January 19, 1pm, I will be giving a seminar in the Catch Room: “Wet Flies 101.” This is a new version of WF101 with upgraded content and video. For those of you looking to explore the ancient and traditional art of subsurface fly fishing, WF101 will be an fine introduction.

On Saturday, January 20, 11am, I will be in Room A of the Destination Theater for “Trout Fishing for Striped Bass — How to catch the stripers that everyone can’t.” This is a new presentation that focuses on using traditional trout and salmon tactics to catch more striped bass, especially the difficult and larger fish that escape most anglers. Tackle, flies, tactics — we’ll break down some barriers and open many doors.

Here’s the show PDF:

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I’ll be walking the floor and attending some presentations myself. Shows like this are a tremendous resource, not only for locating hard-to-find items or the rod or reel of your dreams — but also for learning. Take advantage, and if you see me please say hello!

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Fuzzy Nymphs

They’re not quite wet flies. They’re certainly not Euro nymphs. What they are is magnificently buggy and ugly and horrible and they catch fish. This wee trove of beasties will be appearing in “Wet Flies 101.”

Horrible little monsters: bottom left, Fox Squirrel; bottom middle, Hare’s Ear; bottom right, Ginger Caddis Larva.  

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