A Spider and Soft Hackle Sampler

This video includes traditional North Country spiders and a couple soft hackles of my own design. It’s going to be part of my upgraded presentation, “Wet Flies 101.”

Of Jalapeño Cheeseburgers, IPAs, and Wet Flies, or: Thank You, HFFA

Many thanks to the HFFA for hosting me last night. The pre-game meal was both delicious and appreciated (see Culton’s Rule of Presentation, AKA “A fed presenter is a happy presenter.”) I hadn’t given the “Wet Flies 101” program in some time, so it was nice to return to an old friend. Speaking of old friends, there were many familiar faces in the audience, which is always gratifying. Thanks to everyone who took the time to come out, share their experiences, and ask so many good questions.

Winged wets like these have been fooling trout for hundreds of years, and the fish aren’t getting any smarter.


I have two more appearances in December — more on those soon.

Thank you UpCountry and everyone who attended my Wet Flies 101 class

The rains held off and we had a fine (if not humid) overcast day to swing some wets on the Farmington. BWOs, Sulphurs, and Isonychia joined in the party. Many thanks to UpCountry Sportfishing for hosting me. Many thanks to Dick, Matt, Mike, Rhonda, and Wayne for participating, and for asking so many good questions (as you learned, I love talking about fly fishing). You were a great group to spend the afternoon with, and a pleasure to teach. The trout were semi-cooperative, and we found several willing to jump on. Keep on keepin’ on, gang, and you’ll see the subsurface dividends start to roll in. Special thanks to fellow Farmington River guide Antoine Bissieux for so generously sharing the water.

We like bent rods at Wet Flies 101. That’s a seven-foot 3-weight fiberglass stick Mike is doing battle with.

WF101 Fish On


One of several trout brought to net. Good job, group!

WF101 Brown

Guest blogging on J.Stockard: Three Great Wet Flies for Summer

Yours truly makes another appearance on the J. Stockard Fly Fishing site blog, Thoughts On The Fly. This month’s topic will be nothing new to my regular readers, but it is a worthy subject nonetheless: “Three Great Wet Flies For Summer.” You’ll pardon the highly unimaginative title.

Here’s the link to “Three Great Wet Flies For Summer”

This amazingly marked wild Farmington brookie took a late summer wet fly.

Farmington Wild Brookie

Speaking of wet flies and summer, my Saturday “Wet Flies 101” class at UpCountry Sportfishing is sold out. Maybe I’ll see some of you there.

And we are getting tantalizingly close to 300 followers…and a fly giveaway.

New class forming: Wet Flies 101, Saturday, July 18

I will be teaching Wet Flies 101 on Saturday, July 18. This popular class is through UpCountry Sportfishing in New Hartford. Here is the course description from the UpCountry site:

Join outdoor writer and Farmington River guide Steve Culton Saturday, July 18, as we explore the wonders of wet fly fishing on the Farmington River. Whether searching, imitating drowned terrestrials, or fishing under the hatch, wet flies can be a highly productive summer tactic. Wet Flies 101 includes streamside and on-the-water instruction, and will cover basics like rigging, fly selection, and presentation. Flies will be included. Class begins at noon and will run approximately 4 hours, leaving plenty of time for you to enjoy the evening rise with your new skills. Tuition is $100, and space is limited to 4 people.

Please do not try to register for this class here. You need to do it through UpCountry: 860-379-1952.

I hope everyone had a safe, happy, celebratory 4th of July.

This gorgeous high-teens wild Farmington brown found a Drowned Ant soft-hackle to his liking on a hot mid-July afternoon.

BigWildBrownFarmy 7:13

Farmington River Mini Report 4/30/15: A good day for wets

My best guess is that everyone looked at the five day forecast and decided that yesterday would be ideal for playing hooky. How else to explain the dramatic reduction in angler traffic today? Not that I’m complaining. I bounced around to several spots on the upper TMA, and fished all by myself for two glorious hours.

Conditions: Cooler than yesterday, mix of sun and clouds, chilly breeze (dammit, I left my fleece vest in the truck). Water 425cfs, 48 degrees, crystal clear. Not nearly as many caddis as yesterday, and that resulted in no takes on the Squirrel and Ginger. Size 12 SHBHPT was the runaway favorite fly. Plenty of midges, and some size 16-18 BWOs. No H bugs. Saw only one rise (as opposed to dozens yesterday).

Yes, dear, you have something on your lip. Hold still and I’ll take it out.


How I fished: three fly team of wets, two size 12 S&Gs and the pictured BHSHPT. The bead was copper tungsten. Mostly casting down and across, but I did some upstream and  short-line deep presentations. I caught them on the swing, the mended swing, the dangle, and the short-line deep. A fair mix of standard-issue and Survivor Strain stockees. I stopped counting after a dozen. I say this not to brag (if you were there you would have likewise caught a multitude) but rather to illustrate how good the fishing was on the wet. If Woody Allen fished, he might have said, “80% of success is just showing up…with wet flies..after they’ve stocked the upper TMA.”

“Tell me, Two Caddis Humping, why do you ask?”


Lessons re-learned: If there’s a sudden pause in what has been fairly constant action, check your three-fly rig for tangles. Yep, that’s not helping. Make sure the line lays out flat on the cast. The wind will screw you every chance it gets. If you’re fishing wets, let the new standard-issue stockees take the fly before you set the hook. If you try to set on the bump/tap, you’ll miss the fish. Let them hook themselves. The Survivor Strain and holdover/wild fish will simply clobber the fly. Bless them. Expect a good fight. Some of the new SS fish are shaped like a rugby ball.

The obesity crisis in Survivor Strain browns. For newly stocked fish, they sure can swim. This one had to be coerced into the net.