Do you know what your fly is doing? (Streamer Edition)

Do you know what your streamer is doing? I mean, do you really know how deep it is, how fast it’s sinking, how fast (or slow) it’s moving, and in which direction(s)? I think many anglers don’t. It’s a trap I’ve fallen into more than once, but there’s a clear way out of it.

Many years ago I tied up a streamer called the Hi-Liter. Part of its raison d’être was to be easily seen (its colors are hot pink and chartreuse) not just by the fish, but by me. I used the Hi-Liter to get a better visual handle on where the streamer actually was. A few years later I was interviewing George Daniel, and I was pleased to discover that he was doing the same thing. I’ll let George pick up the story:

“Take your favorite streamer, tie it in a bright, obnoxious color and fish it. You’ll be amazed to see what level and direction your fly is moving. You’ll learn a lot by changing the leader length, retrieve, and type of fly line — and that will allow you to really dial in your presentations.”

I spent a good chunk of time yesterday on the Housatonic, perched above the water on a rock, doing just that. The water was low and exceptionally clear, with none of the normal tea tinge that river usually displays. Not only did I get to observe and experiment with presentation, I also got to witness how smallmouth attack a streamer.

I used a white tungsten cone head Woolly Bugger for my experiments. The closing and attack speed of smallmouth is astonishing. One moment, your streamer is in isolation. In the blink of an eye, a shadow materializes at lightning speed out of nowhere. Smallmouth are classic ambush predators, attacking from below, behind, from an oblique blind side — or any combination thereof. You cannot strip a fly faster than they can swim, although they do not always want to chase and eat. I had several tremendous hits after I performed a combination of rapid long strips, then let the streamer begin to settle. WHACK! Where you cast is also important, as I had a good half dozen takes moments after the streamer hit the water.

Marlborough 2020 Redux

Three busy days at Marlborough and I’m a tired but very happy angler. I think I had more fun at this show than any other. Five gigs, lots of hobnobbing, and a little buying. Here’s what went down.

I try to go to as many presentations as possible, and unfortunately I didn’t get to half of the ones I planned on. Here’s George Daniel doing his Streamers 2.0 presentation. If you’ve never seen him speak, you’re in for a treat.

GDPresenting

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Fly Tyer’s Row is a always a wise use of time. Not only do I get to catch up with old friends (and make new ones) I also find inspiration and ideas. Top to bottom: salmon fly tier extraordinaire Lisa Weiner (thanks for the casting help!); saltwater whiz Captain Ray Stachelek of Cast A Fly Charters; maker of wonderful fly tying videos Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions. 

LisaW

CaptRay

TimFlags

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Between socializing and gigs, I managed a little shopping time. The Keough booth had their usual massive selection of potential flatwing saddles (plan on spending the better part of an hour scouring the bins). If you’re a wet fly and soft hackle freak like me, the Badger Creek booth is a must. Saturday’s score included a full jackdaw skin, some woodcock wings, and that prized winging material, lemon wood duck. Owner/operator Mike Hogue told me that another company bought the rights to Pearsalls and their dying process, and is now offering tying silks. As you can see, we’re all a little excited about it.

MikeH

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You are now at maximum expert casting density. Bill and Sheila Hassan are both gifted casters and really nice people. Always a pleasure paying them a visit. I didn’t get a chance to take photos at the Bear’s Den or Saltwater Edge booths, but likewise on the visit energy.

Hassans

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Hanging with the boys at the author’s booth. From left: Ed Engle, your humble scribe, George Daniel, and Jason Randall. Check out my Instagram feed (stevecultonflyfishing) for a silly outtake!

Crew

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Hey, I know that guy. Last but not least: thank you to everyone who took the time to see me speak, took my class, stopped to say hello, or just wanted to chat about fly fishing. I couldn’t do any of this without you. Thanks also to Chuck, Janet and Ben Furimsky for letting me be a part of their show. See you in Edison, NJ Friday, January 24, 4:30pm in the Catch Room for my Wet Flies 101 seminar.

ClassSign

Thank you, Edison. See you next year.

Another great experience at the Fly Fishing Show. Thanks to everyone who took the time to come see my Seminar, Wet Flies 2.0. By my count it was one of the largest audiences of the day. If you were there, I truly appreciate it. Before my gig I had the chance to walk the show floor.

One of my best sources for flatwing saddles is Bill Keough’s booth. He’s got some higher quality saddles in packages, but if you know what you’re looking for and you have the time, a rummage through his bargain bins can uncover treasure. I managed to escape with three grizzly saddles — coming to a flatwing soon.

billk

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The luck of this guy! Someone gifted Joe Cordeiro two original RLS saddles. Wow. Thanks for the water and the snack, fellow flatwinger.

joec~

Anyone who can rock sandals on a cold January day is my hero. If you haven’t read George’s new nymphing book, you should.

georged

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BobPop was nice to me, showed interest, and offered encouragement when I was a nobody. He’s on the A-list of cool dudes. Here’s a prototype he told me is over 50 years old. I’m glad I’m not the only tying nerd who saves works-in-progress.

bobpop

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“I swear, it was this big!” I don’t know too many people who love fishing more than me, but Hank Hewitt might be one of them. He certainly loves talking more than me. Great to see the Block Island Fishworks crew (Hank, Eliott, and Chris). If you’re looking for deep domain knowledge of Block, you want a charter with these guys.

hankh

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Next up:  the CFFA Expo, Saturday, February 2 at Maneely’s in South Windsor. I will be presenting Wet Flies 101, starting at 9:30am. I will also be on tier’s row, but I have a coaching commitment in the afternoon, so I’ll only be there until 12:30pm.

Marlborough Fly Fishing Show Notes and Thanks

Another year, another Marlborough Fly Fishing Show, and I had a most excellent time. (I hope you did, too.) Even Sunday’s ice storm was fun, albeit in a what-a-disaster-let’s-make-the-best-of-it kind of way. Special kudos to the brave souls who came to my 10am presentation, Lost Secrets of Legendary Anglers. And thanks so much to everyone who attended the other two, Wet Flies 2.0, and Targeting Big Stripers From The Shore. I truly appreciate your support. Next up: Fly Fishing Show, Edison, NJ, Wet Flies 2.0 Seminar, 3:15pm in the Catch Room. See you then!

A lot of talent there. Yet somehow they let that Culton guy in. Humor aside, I enjoy going to other people’s seminars — I’m not only interested in their presentation techniques, but also in adding new arrows to my fly fishing quiver. Ed (both of them), George, and Jason are some of the nicest people you’ll meet. We (the Ed that is Engle) hung out and had a beer Saturday night. Dang, I shoulda taken a picture of that. 

bignames~

Some gorgeous creatures tied by my flatwing brother Joe Cordeiro. I spent a few hours on the show floor Friday shaking hands and visiting old friends. I kept it cheap, managing to get away with just 3 spools of Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk.

JoeCFlatwings.jpeg

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Old friend Captain Ray Stachelek. I really like a modified version of his soft-hackled bunny fur small squid fly. 

captray

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Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions makes the world’s best fly tying videos — and he’s also my hero because he gifted me a perfect shot of an October caddis for my Wet Flies 2.0 presentation.

timflags

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Hat swag, a token of appreciation from the Cape Cod Flyrodders. Thanks, guys! I had a really good turnout for Targeting Big Stripers From The Shore on Saturday, and I was pleased that so many audience members were able to hang around after the talk for some hallway Q&A.

hatswag

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Wake up, Sunday AM. A slow day at the show, so I checked out George Daniels’, new friend Matt Supinski’s, Ed Engle’s, and later, Jason Randall’s presentations. Oh. And I managed to do one too. How stoked was I to have an audience in the middle of an ice storm!?!

snowday

“Streamer Kings” in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of American Angler

I usually write from my own experience, but for “Streamer Kings” I interviewed George Daniel, Chad Johnson, and Tommy Lynch. Their comments and insights compose the bulk of the article. Whether you’re new to streamers for trout or an old Mickey Finn hand like me, I’ll bet you learn something useful. On newsstands now.

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Hare and Copper nymph variant (AKA that fly everyone has been asking about)

Now you can meet, up-close and personal, the fly that has taken the currentseams community by storm: the Hare and Copper variant.

I first saw the Hare and Copper in the Spring 2012 issue of Fly Tyer, in a piece written by George Daniel called “Confidence Flies.” The original calls for a Knapek Nymph Hook, red wire, Dark Pardo Coq de Leon tail, black tungsten bead, and an entire body of dark brown SLF Squirrel dubbing. You can see below how I modified it to suit my tastes. This is really nothing more than a slightly souped-up cross between a Pheasant Tail and a Hare’s Ear. No wonder trout like it. A fine addition to your fuzzy nymph stash.

Hare and Copper Nymph variant

Hare and Copper Variant