Grady just bought someone’s collection of tying materials, and I’m happy to tell you that it includes Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk. Pearsall’s is no longer made, and nearly impossible to find, so this is a treat for those looking to tie classic North Country spiders with traditional materials. These spools are bargain priced, and as of Friday there were still plenty in stock. Naturally, I helped my self to a bunch, but I played nice and kept my silk gluttony down to a dull roar. Get ’em before they’re gone.
You might also want to rummage through the bins — they’re in the room next to the parking lot — from this collection. Again, I can’t vouch for current inventory, but there were all kinds of game bird skins and other soft hackle delights at bargain prices. As always, please support your local fly shop!
I was recently added as a “Featured Fly Tier” at the Fly Fishing Show in Edison, NJ, Saturday, January 29 at 12:30pm. The focus will be wet flies, specifically Spiders, Winged & Wingless Wets. It’s going to be a busy Saturday with a seminar (Finding Small Stream Nirvana), this demo, and a wet fly tying class, but busy is good! Please take the time to come say hello.
I just finished rehearsing my new seminar, Modern Wet Fly Strategies. Folks, I’m really excited about this one! It’s almost entirely new material, with lots of new video. It’s a bit more fast-paced than previous presentations, and it represents my deepest dive yet into the ancient and traditional art of wet fly fishing.
Want more details? Here you go: Modern Wet Fly Strategies builds on the basics of Wet Flies 101 and expands on the tactics of Wet Flies 2.0. With new video and content, this is a more detailed program about wet flies and wet fly fishing. Topics include matching hatches, situational use of wet fly types, presentation options, gear, and the tactical use of wet flies under varying conditions and situations. A must for anyone who wants to improve his or her subsurface game!
Here’s a little sneak peak, part of a promo video I made for the Fly Fishing Show. Don’t forget, I’m also teaching a class on Saturday, January 29, at 2:00pm: Tying and Fishing Wet Flies with Steve Culton: 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. Click HERE for details and to register.
Thanks to everyone who joined me for last night’s Currentseams Tuesday Night Zoom. We had nearly 60 people, which doesn’t suck, and a splendid time was had by all. I’m sorry about the muting issues — I will have it figured out for next time. Speaking of next time, we’ll do it again next Tuesday, January 12. I’ll be talking about winter fly fishing, and winter fly tying — so be there or be square! I’ll post a reminder early next week.
As John Cleese would say, “And now for something completely different.” I’m going to do my first winter fly tying pay-per-Zoom event on Saturday, January 16 at 1pm. 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 email@example.com) and I’ll send you the link to the meeting. Our first session will be Tying the Soft-Hackled Fly. This will cover some basic, useful patterns, and will include the North Country Spider template. It would be ideal if everyone had every kind of hackle, but I know that’s not possible, nor is it necessary. But you should have some basics, like different color threads, different hooks, tools, etc. You should have a partridge skin or at least partridge feathers. Starling would be good to have. If you have any kind of hen cape soft hackle, have that handy. The point is, if you don’t have a specific kind of hackle, you can find it later. This is all about tying basics and templates. Oh! I’d like to show you the Squirrel and Ginger, so please find ginger Angora goat, green Krystal flash, Squirrel fur, and high-tack wax. If you don’t have the goat, you can use another kind of dubbing. Wire can be substituted for Krystal Flash. Questions? You know where to find me.
By popular demand, fly tying classes by Zoom! The first will be two Saturdays from now, January 16th, 1pm, and the subject will be Tying The Soft-Hackled Fly. See above for materials list.
Patterned after a classic North Country spider, the Partridge and Light Cahill is another example of a fly that is ridiculously simple and devastatingly effective. The first time I tied this fly, it sat in my box, unused, for the better part of four years. Then came a late May evening on the lower Farmington. Creamy mayfly duns were out in force. Trout were slashing at the flies, their feeding frenzy creating a cauldron effect on the river’s surface. I tied my experiment onto my team of three wets, and the trout overwhelmingly showed their approval. To the vise, good angler, then fish the Light Cahill and Sulphur hatches with confidence. The vote will surely be yes for you, too.
Now available to your club or group! The long-awaited follow-up to Wet Flies 101, 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. You can find my full presentation menu here.
By learning the mystical arts of the wet fly, you may, as Leisenring said, “soon acquire the reputation of a fish hog!”
We see the North Country influence again in Leisenring’s Pale Watery Dun Wingless. Leisenring chose the noun dun wisely, as this is clearly more adult than emerger — heck, you could even go spinner. It’s a far different pattern than the Pale Watery Wingless (AKA The Magic Fly) I tie; my version is more Usual than Poult Bloa, and I use it almost exclusively for the emerger stage. For Farmington River anglers, the Pale Watery Dun Wingless has Light Cahills written all over it, and I know of a certain pod of trout on a certain stretch of river that will be driven absolutely out of their minds by this fly on an early June evening.
Pale Watery Dun Wingless
Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-14
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: Pale honey dun
Tail: Two or three pale honey dun cock fibers
Body: Natural raffia grass, lacquer optional
Tying Notes: A light ginger hen neck makes a lovely pale honey dun. Use it for the hackle and the tailing material. I went all in on authenticity and bought a bundle of raffia grass online; you’ll need to strip or cut a strand so it’s about 1/16th of an inch wide. Treat it like tinsel: attach behind the hackle, wind to the tail, then back, making a nice segmented body. I can’t imagine this fly would last without some kind of lacquer, so I used Sally Hansen’s HAN. If you don’t want to bother with raffia grass, the fish will not object to straw colored silk or thread or even Swiss straw. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.
Holy North Country spider, Jimbo! The Yorkshire influence comes through loud and clear on this American classic. I’ve not yet tried the Black Gnat for the late summer black caddis hatch on the Housatonic (it’s been the very well-received Black Magic) but this pattern would surely be eaten. I like the contrasting head on the Black Gnat, and the use of iridescent feathers. Think a steelhead would eat this fly? One way to find out…
Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14-15
Silk: Crimson or claret
Hackle: Purplish black feather from the shoulder of a cock starling
Body: Black silk or two or three fibers from a crow’s secondary wing feather
Wings: Dark starling optional
Tying Notes: If you have a starling skin — and you should if you’re serious about soft hackles — you can easily find the kind of metallic feather Leisenring specifies. The body is way sexier with the feather fibers — it creates the effect of silk dusted with a fine fur. I don’t have crow, so I used jackdaw. I see no need to complicate this fly with wings. So there it is. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.
Those paying attention to this sort of thing will notice that we have reached and passed the 700 followers mark. So it’s time for a celebration fly giveaway. Thank you, everyone, for your loyal readership. Details to come shortly!
If you’re a member of the Cape Cod Flyrodders, I’ll be speaking at your meeting next Thursday the 21st. The topic will be Targeting Big Stripers From The Shore: Fly Fishing Tactics and Techniques. If you’re a Currentseams follower, please let me know.
I’ve gotten a lot of praise for my Housy piece in the current issue of Eastern Fly Fishing. Thanks for all your kind words. The Farmy piece for the same pub is in the can, out later this year.
I hope you’ve been enjoying my recent intensive series on North Country spiders and (still ongoing) James Leisenring’s favorite wingless wets and soft hackles. It’s a good warmup exercise for my wet fly gig at Legends next Saturday.
Finally, I went striper fishing Wednesday night. One touch, no hookups. But it’s coming.