Tuesday Zooms on hiatus, 900 followers, and man, do I desperately need to go fishing!

Greetings, fellow fly addicts. I don’t know how many of you are football fans, but I binge-watched the entire slate of wild card weekend games…and there’s still one more game to go. But, I digress. To the subjects at hand.

For the last two winters, I’ve held Tuesday Night Zooms — little fireside fly fishing chats over the internet. If you’ve participated, you know these were fun, informal presentations. It was a fantastic way for us to safely connect in these challenging pandemic times, and I’m grateful for the number of people who chose to spend an hour with me. I’ve made the decision to suspend those Zooms at least until after the Super Bowl. Part of it is trying to build up excitement for the Edison Fly Fishing Show (you’re coming, right?). Part of it is that I’m socked in editing film and building two new presentations, Modern Wet Fly Strategies and Finding Small Stream Nirvana. And part of it is other writing commitments (teaser: it involves flatwings and herring and striped bass). I may try to do a few later this winter. We’ll see how it goes. Don’t forget the Marlborough Show in April!

It’s a midgey time of year, whether small streams or the big water of Church Pool. Smut No. 1 is your friend, fished wet or dry or as the top dropper on your nymph rig.

I see currentseams has reached the 900 followers mark. Hooray! We will be having our usual celebration of a random drawing fly giveaway. As per policy, I’ll wait a bit to make sure that number doesn’t fall below the bar. Stay tuned for the announcement.

Lastly, dagnabbit, I have yet to fish in the New Year. Damn all this work. Methinks I need to throw responsibility to the four winds and play hooky. Hmmmmm….

J.C. Mottram’s Smut Number 1

“Smuts — I welcome smutting trout.” So writes J.C. Mottram in his book Thoughts on Angling. I don’t have the book, but I do have Syl Nemes’ second edition of The Soft Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles. In that book, Nemes devotes a chapter to Mottram and his collection of soft-hackled smuts. (“Smut” is a colloquial British term for a very tiny fly, such as a midge, and trout that are “smutting” are delicately feeding on those miniature bugs.)

There are six Smuts listed by Nemes. I’ve only tied one, the Number 1 (shame on me for not exploring further). I revisit it today because I happened to have Nemes’ book out, and this is a great time of year to fish midges. (Midges are a major, consistently available food source for trout in the winter.) I’ve mostly fished Smut Number 1 as a dry fly, but I’ve also used it subsurface. The wise winter nymph angler will no doubt want to include this tiny soft hackle as the top dropper in their nymph rig.

Nemes includes a photo of the Smut Number 1, and it bears only a faint resemblance to what I tie. His looks like the body is entirely constructed of working thread; mine uses the specified wool. (UNI makes a nice wool yarn thread on a spool.) His hackle is wound wingless wet style, covering the front third of the body; mine is wound at the head. I suspect the wingless wet style would be very appealing to trout. Worth the price of admission alone is the blank stare you’ll get from the angler who will inquire, as you hook trout after trout, what fly are you using? “Smut Number 1,” is your response. Soak in that moment. And here it is, J.C. Mottram’s Smut Number 1.

Hook: TMC 100 18-22

Thread: UNI Black 8/0

Abdomen: Black wool

Thorax: Black wool

Hackle: Long white