Many thanks to Hammonasset TU and a question about color

A big round of applause for the Hammonasset chapter of TU for hosting me last night. A small but intimate and involved group made it a fun evening and a smooth presentation. As usual, I forgot many of the names, but I recognized the faces, and I appreciate everyone who came out to talk trout fishing for striped bass. Can’t forget to say thanks for the pizza, and also thanks to the gentleman who gifted me the articulated flies — those will see action next summer for smallies!

The presentation machine keeps rolling with three gigs next week at Thames Valley TU, Capitol District (Albany, NY), and Farmington Valley TU. I’ll post a reminder Monday. Hope to see you there!

I was asked about color in striper flies last night. Without writing an essay: I like a little yellow in any fly that imitates fatty, oily bait like menhaden or herring or anchovies. I like certain colors for certain conditions: some white at the change of light, black in stained water, grey and fluorescent yellow on an easterly blow. I love blending colors using buckail and saddles, and sometimes I choose flies by feeling — as in, that’s the fly that feels right tonight. Sometimes color is irrelevant — it’s profile and presentation. I choose and blend colors that please me. Confidence catches fish!

Crazy CU

 

Soft-Hackled Flatwing in On The Water’s Guide Flies

My Soft-Hackled Flatwing recently appeared in the “Guide Flies” section of On The Water magazine. I’m sorry that I don’t have a publish date, but it’s out there and of course right here. The Soft Hackled Flatwing draws from fly tying giants Abrames and Bondorew and Gartside. Play around with colors, have fun, and catch fish!

The Soft-Hackled Flatwing from On The Water‘s Guide Flies. There’s a link to a pdf just below.

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Fun at the “Striper Moon” film premier

All we needed last night was a red carpet to welcome all the fly fishing dignitaries at the Avon Cinema. Nah, it wasn’t anything like that: low key, relaxed, everyone welcome — just like Tuesday Nights with Ken. I enjoyed seeing some old and new friends, and reconnecting with people from fishing days past.

It’s the world premier of Striper Moon — A Legacy.

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The film? Nice job, Lorri Shankar. It’s not all about fishing — it’s about Ken the artist, the sculptor, the writer, the fly and rod designer, the angler, the man. Roughly an hour long, just the right length where it leaves you wanting a little more. The story is told through Ken’s self-narrative, and via interviews with an eclectic mix of characters from family members to old fishing buddies.

I do not know of any future distribution or DVD plans. If you have inquiries, please reach out to Lorri Shankar, director. You can find her on Facebook.

We talk just about every week, but I hadn’t seen Ken in a few years. He has a look and a style that simply commands your attention. Thanks, old friend, for teaching me about sparse flies and flatwings and floating lines and greased line swings and sticky sharp hooks and setting the hook and fighting fish and…

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“Striper Moon — A Legacy” film in Providence August 20

“Striper Moon — A Legacy — J. Kenney Abrames” will premier 8:00pm August 20 at the Avon Cinema in Providence, RI. The film is the project of Lorri Shankar. Here’s a link to Ken’s Stripermoon Blog Facebook page. Hope to see you there!

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The Saltwater Edge and The Bear’s Den: buy stuff from these guys

Although the title of this post may suggest otherwise, I’m please to say that currenseams.com remains an ad-free web zone. One of my goals with this site is to be a dispenser of good information — and with that, I’d like to direct your attention to two new links on the right-hand sidebar.

First up is The Saltwater Edge in Newport, RI. Its owner, Peter Jenkins, is a good friend. While SE’s focus is more on non-fly gear, the shop is nonetheless a valuable resource in terms of local knowledge and passion for the salt. It’s also the only place you can find my favorite striper and steelhead rod, the Ken Abrames Salmo Saxatilis.

The next place I’d like to tell you about is The Bear’s Den in Taunton, MA. I’ve been a customer for years, in particular fly lines. Huge selection. And some of the best customer service I’ve experienced anywhere. Scott and his team will really take care of you.

You should also know that these links are unpaid and unsolicited. I’m just a big fan and wanted to share.

This bass was caught on a rod I bought from the Saltwater Edge and a line I bought from The Bear’s Den. Coincidence (he said with a wink)?

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The Law of the Instrument and the Intermediate Line

I recently came across a reference to the Law of the Instrument, and it reminded me of fly fishing with an intermediate line in surf and current — especially since I recently used an intermediate line for two days on Cape Cod.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Law of the Instrument, it’s basically this: If all you have is a hammer, you see everything as a nail.

And why, you may ask, was I fishing with an intermediate line? It was the ideal taper and grain weight for my new two-hander. For test drive casting, it was aces. For fishing, it reminded me why I never choose an intermediate line for current or surf. (For more on this, read Mainly Misunderstood: Five Myths and Realities About Using Floating Lines for Striped Bass.

“The fundamental thing about fly fishing is presentation. It means that you control what’s going on, so that you can bring your fly to the fish. You’re in control. Not the line. Not the accident.” What Ken is saying is simple: use the right tool for the job.

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Perhaps the Law of the Instrument explains so many of the misconceptions about intermediate lines: they are less affected by surf, they are good for presenting deep, they are versatile. (D: none of the above.)

Expand your toolbox with a floating line — and you’ll begin to notice all the screws and nuts and bolts around you.

R.L.S. Black General Practitioner

What’s the best shrimp fly pattern? You could go with the philosophy of, “There ain’t no best,” and you’d get no argument from me. Or you could weigh in with the General Practitioner — and you wouldn’t be wrong.

General Practitioner = G.P. = Impressionistic shrimpy goodness.
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Trey Combs writes in Steelhead Fly Fishing that the original prawn was tied by Colonel Esmond Drury in 1953. The General Practitioner then got really famous as a west coast winter steelhead pattern. Today there are all manner of versions and colors; this one is a variant developed by Ken Abrames as published in A Perfect Fish.

Ken introduced me to the pattern many years ago. He handed me a black G.P., and with a knowing confidence, told me to fish it as part of a three fly team. Sadly, I’ve long since lost that fly, but I still have one of Ken’s olive G.P.s. tucked away in the never-to-be fished-again archives. When tied just so, G.P.s are magical creations that bask in their impressionistic glory. Picture this fly near the surface on a greased line swing or a dead drift, easily visible to a striped bass even in the mucky outflow of a salt marsh. Wait to feel the weight of the fish — and then hang on. Stripers love shrimp, and when they are keyed on this bait, feeding on station, they will often ignore all other offerings and stripped presentations.

R.L.S. Black General Practitioner

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Hook: Atlantic salmon 2-8
Antennae: Black and blue bucktail, mixed
Head: Black golden pheasant neck feather
Eyes: Golden pheasant tippet
Body: Gold flat tinsel
Ribbing: Gold oval tinsel
Hackle: Natural black
Carapace: Metallic black turkey feather
Back: Same
Tail: Same
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A view from below. You can imagine all those hackle fibers gently quivering in the current and whispering to a striper, “I’m alive…”

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Tying Notes: Ken called for an Eagle Claw 253, but I like the badass black of Atlantic salmon hooks. No gots turkey feathers? Me either, so I used dyed black pheasant rump. The majority of the black G.P.s I’ve seen use far too much bucktail; remember, you’re tying the antennae of a grass shrimp (the steelhead pattern calls for 10 bucktail hairs; I used 20) not an opaque jig. To form the eyes, cut a V-shape in the tippet and then lacquer with head cement. The “eye stalks” will narrow from the head cement. You don’t have to use the tinsels; gold braid works just as well. The body and top feathers are somewhat of a pain; tie in the carapace at the tail, then tie and wind the tinsel and hackle to the mid-point of the shank, tie in the back (like a little roof), continue forward with the tinsel and hackle, then tie in the tail feather, again like a little roof. Make a spiffy head and go fish.