An early Christmas present: Izaak Walton’s “The Compleat Angler”

This was an unexpected treasure. One of my wife’s relations was cleaning out some books belonging to her deceased husband, spotted the title, knew I was a fishing kind of guy, and sent it along. I first heard of The Compleat Angler when I read Joe Brooks’ classic Trout Fishing in the mid-1970s. I don’t know that I’m going to read it cover-to-cover, but I will be browsing. Thanks, Santa!

A little piscatorial humor. I don’t know who wrote the inscription, but the owl sticker is covering some kind of personal dedication.

Compleat Angler awarded the Order of the Noble Turkey Sandwich (with Lays chip clusters) — and other Monday ramblings

Many thanks to my friends at the Compleat Angler in Darien for hosting my Local Rivers tying demo on Saturday. Tying and talking fishing is certainly one of the things I like most about my job. Thanks to everyone who showed up, and — as always — a fed tyer is a happy tyer. That sandwich really hit the spot! A final note: The Compleat Angler is a terrific fly shop. Every year I find something good down there. This year it was a Renzetti magnum hair stacker. (Wet fly aficionados, they have a terrific selection of soft hen hackle capes.)

Passing around the Deep Threat for a few photos.


The 600 Followers contest is officially closed. Thank you everyone who entered, and I loved your comments and suggestions. Now to put them to good use! I will do the drawing in a few days and announce the winners. Now’s the time to summon your good luck karma.

Bombardiers for a client. Coming to an estuary near you…


New event added: “Farmington River Favorites” Tying Demo at The Compleat Angler, 2/11/17.

My friends at The Compleat Angler in Darien, CT, have invited me back for their winter tying series. (I must be doing something right. Or at least not sucking at it.) I added the information to the appearances post I made the other day. You can read all about it here.

Tying up a storm at a previous Compleat Angler event.

Tying Black Crawler

Tying Demo: Bucktails, Soft Hackles and Flatwings for Stripers, 2/27/16 in Darien

I will be presenting a tying demo at the Compleat Angler in Darien, CT, Saturday, February 27 from 10am-2pm. Its focus will be Bucktails, Soft Hackles and Flatwings for Striped Bass. This is the traditional New England school of tying, with an emphasis on sparse construction, impressionism, and natural materials. For more information, contact the Compleat Angler.

Hope you can make it!

Bucktails so sparse you can read the paper through them. (You remember newspapers, right?) Actually, this is a game-used hybrid bucktail/soft hackle/flatwing. Good stuff.

Sparse SHFlatwing

Many thanks to The Compleat Angler

Saturday’s tying demo — Soft-Hackles and Fuzzy Nymphs for Steelhead — was a tremendous success. I’m always surprised by the number of people who are willing to come out and watch someone else tie; the fact that it was me who was tying made me smile even more. I think what I like most about these events is the open forum format. It’s an ideal way to talk fishing, fly tying, answer questions, and connect with people on a more personal level. I appreciate the audience that the internet provides, but nothing beats good old-fashioned face-to-face time.

Then there’s the venue. If you’ve never been the Compleat Angler (541 Post Road, Darien, CT) it has a tremendous selection of fly tying materials. I went on a little walkabout through the store after my session, and saw lots of covet-worthy stuff. The staff is great, and Scott, bless him, brought me a turkey sandwich. Man does not live on soft-hackles alone, or: A fed tyer is a happy tyer.

Tying Dave Hall’s Black Crawler. That’s Carol off to the right. She’s been to every one of my demos at CA. Thanks for coming out, everyone.

Tying Black Crawler

My next appearance will be this Wednesday, March 4, at the FVTU Chapter meeting, 7pm, at the Whinstone Tavern at the Stanley golf course in New Britain. “Wet Flies 101.” Hope to see you there.

Soft-Hackles and Fuzzy Nymphs for Steelhead tying demo at the Compleat Angler February 28

Hope to see you at the Compleat Angler, 541 Post Road in Darien, Saturday, February 28 from 10am-2pm. Like the title says, steelhead soft-hackles and fuzzy nymphs will be the bill of fare. Many of these patterns cross over neatly into trout fishing, so don’t let the steelhead designation scare you off. This is a tying demo, not a class, so all you need to bring is yourself and some questions if you are so inclined to ask. I will certainly be tying some of the flies that were featured in my “Soft-Hackles for Winter Steelhead” piece in the last issue of American Angler. Till then, stay warm!

The Ginger Spider. Yup. It would be safe to say that I have a thing for the magical material humbly known as ginger Angora goat. Teal flank, too.

Ginger Spider

Tying flies in the noon day sun

So I pulled up to the pavilion at Mathies Grove around 9am and no one’s there. Except the lone sentinel in her sand chair who informed me that she was saving it for the softball players. Say what? I looked northward, and there was the Spey Clave in the field. I hadn’t planned on tying in the sun — I was wearing a long sleeve rugby shirt — but as the father of a Marine, I know that you adapt, overcome, and improvise. A few volunteers later, we were lugging a picnic table 150 yards across a field, and there I was, all set up and ready to tie.

Several thank yous are in order. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat, watch, and ask questions. The old faces were comforting, and the new ones a pleasure to meet. Thanks to Ben Bilello for tying such beautiful salmon flies. Thanks to Mother Nature for making the sun warm and the air cool. Thanks to Scott from the Compleat Angler for grilling up a storm (that burger hit the spot). And thanks to Fred and Jerry from Spey Casting North East for hosting me. (I’ll give them a from-the-heart — and head — plug: if you are interested in two-handed casting, you will not meet a nicer, welcoming, experienced team of instructors. Brilliant, both of them.)



Here I am

I have not disappeared (like this brown is about to).


I’ve been on a little vacation. Even starving writers occasionally get to go somewhere warm and breezy in the middle of winter. Yes, I managed a little fishing. Yes, there will be a story. But for now, these three items:

On Wednesday night, February 26, I will be presenting “Wet Flies 101” to the Narragansett Trout Unlimited chapter. You can get directions from their website (

Saturday, March 1, I will be at The Compleat Angler in Darien, CT, from 10am-2pm to present a tying demo, “Flies for Small Streams.” I will be covering wets, nymphs, dries, and streamers, along with tactics and presentations. Directions at

Last but not least, I just finished an article for American Angler on matching the hatch with wet flies. It will be in the spring trout issue.

As always, thanks for reading.