Fun with Barr’s Meat Whistle

Barr’s Meat Whistle is another streamer pattern I’ve known about (and been meaning to tie) for years. But never got around to doing so until 2020. What I’ve tied up is actually good friend Tim Flagler’s variant, and I’m including Tim’s fine video tying lesson here. Tim calls the Meat Whistle “functional and adaptable” and I couldn’t agree more.

The Meat Whistle does double duty for trout and smallmouth (and dozens of other species) but I’ve only had the chance to use it as a smallmouth streamer. If you’ve been paying attention to my Instagram feed (stevecultonflyfishing) you know it’s been a challenging year for smallies. I haven’t done really well with it as a traditional streamer — its creator loves to hop and drop it along the bottom. But I had an eye-opening experience using a different method on Sunday.

The mark I was fishing was low and deep and at these low flows, not moving very fast. I knew the pool held a good number of fish, but they would not commit to surface bugs or a stripped or swung streamer. Given the amount of crayfish in the area — and the way crayfish scuttle along the bottom — I decided to try the Meat Whistle dead drifted along the bottom under an indicator. (Cue “ding-ding-ding” — or should that be “TWEEEEET!” sound effects here.) The takes were incredibly subtle, but I stuck and landed a decent number of bass. Man, this is one old dog who loves learning new tricks!

John Barr’s Meat Whistle (Tim Flagler Variant) in rusty crayfish colors.

Marlborough 2020 Redux

Three busy days at Marlborough and I’m a tired but very happy angler. I think I had more fun at this show than any other. Five gigs, lots of hobnobbing, and a little buying. Here’s what went down.

I try to go to as many presentations as possible, and unfortunately I didn’t get to half of the ones I planned on. Here’s George Daniel doing his Streamers 2.0 presentation. If you’ve never seen him speak, you’re in for a treat.

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Fly Tyer’s Row is a always a wise use of time. Not only do I get to catch up with old friends (and make new ones) I also find inspiration and ideas. Top to bottom: salmon fly tier extraordinaire Lisa Weiner (thanks for the casting help!); saltwater whiz Captain Ray Stachelek of Cast A Fly Charters; maker of wonderful fly tying videos Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions. 

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Between socializing and gigs, I managed a little shopping time. The Keough booth had their usual massive selection of potential flatwing saddles (plan on spending the better part of an hour scouring the bins). If you’re a wet fly and soft hackle freak like me, the Badger Creek booth is a must. Saturday’s score included a full jackdaw skin, some woodcock wings, and that prized winging material, lemon wood duck. Owner/operator Mike Hogue told me that another company bought the rights to Pearsalls and their dying process, and is now offering tying silks. As you can see, we’re all a little excited about it.

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You are now at maximum expert casting density. Bill and Sheila Hassan are both gifted casters and really nice people. Always a pleasure paying them a visit. I didn’t get a chance to take photos at the Bear’s Den or Saltwater Edge booths, but likewise on the visit energy.

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Hanging with the boys at the author’s booth. From left: Ed Engle, your humble scribe, George Daniel, and Jason Randall. Check out my Instagram feed (stevecultonflyfishing) for a silly outtake!

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Hey, I know that guy. Last but not least: thank you to everyone who took the time to see me speak, took my class, stopped to say hello, or just wanted to chat about fly fishing. I couldn’t do any of this without you. Thanks also to Chuck, Janet and Ben Furimsky for letting me be a part of their show. See you in Edison, NJ Friday, January 24, 4:30pm in the Catch Room for my Wet Flies 101 seminar.

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Marlborough Fly Fishing Show Notes and Thanks

Another year, another Marlborough Fly Fishing Show, and I had a most excellent time. (I hope you did, too.) Even Sunday’s ice storm was fun, albeit in a what-a-disaster-let’s-make-the-best-of-it kind of way. Special kudos to the brave souls who came to my 10am presentation, Lost Secrets of Legendary Anglers. And thanks so much to everyone who attended the other two, Wet Flies 2.0, and Targeting Big Stripers From The Shore. I truly appreciate your support. Next up: Fly Fishing Show, Edison, NJ, Wet Flies 2.0 Seminar, 3:15pm in the Catch Room. See you then!

A lot of talent there. Yet somehow they let that Culton guy in. Humor aside, I enjoy going to other people’s seminars — I’m not only interested in their presentation techniques, but also in adding new arrows to my fly fishing quiver. Ed (both of them), George, and Jason are some of the nicest people you’ll meet. We (the Ed that is Engle) hung out and had a beer Saturday night. Dang, I shoulda taken a picture of that. 

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Some gorgeous creatures tied by my flatwing brother Joe Cordeiro. I spent a few hours on the show floor Friday shaking hands and visiting old friends. I kept it cheap, managing to get away with just 3 spools of Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk.

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Old friend Captain Ray Stachelek. I really like a modified version of his soft-hackled bunny fur small squid fly. 

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Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions makes the world’s best fly tying videos — and he’s also my hero because he gifted me a perfect shot of an October caddis for my Wet Flies 2.0 presentation.

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Hat swag, a token of appreciation from the Cape Cod Flyrodders. Thanks, guys! I had a really good turnout for Targeting Big Stripers From The Shore on Saturday, and I was pleased that so many audience members were able to hang around after the talk for some hallway Q&A.

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Wake up, Sunday AM. A slow day at the show, so I checked out George Daniels’, new friend Matt Supinski’s, Ed Engle’s, and later, Jason Randall’s presentations. Oh. And I managed to do one too. How stoked was I to have an audience in the middle of an ice storm!?!

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Some Mini and Micro Buggers for the Small Stream Box

‘Tis the season for replenishing sections of the fly box that have been found wanting. The past few days I worked on streamers for my small stream box. While I like to try new flies, I’ve decided on a simple approach this year: proven patterns that will have me covered in variety of situations. So, here we have small Woolly Buggers and variants, sizes 8 and 12, with tungsten and brass beads (and some thread heads) in three basic colors.

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I’ve color-coded the tungsten beadhead flies with red thread — you can see that on the black bugger in the front right. It’s a simple way to keep track of what’s heavy and what’s not. I’ve also swapped out chenille for Ice Dub on the body. You can find the basic recipe for these small buggers here.

The olive flies on the left are Tim Flagler’s Squirrel and Herl Bugger. The original is un-beaded, but I added tungsten heads to two of them. Hopefully Tim is not too horrified. You can find a tying video for this buggy pattern here.

 

Come to where the fly fishing flavor is

Come to Marlborough country.

The 2017 Marlborough edition of The Fly Fishing Show has come and gone. I attended and presented two of the three days. Here’s my take on the action.

Friday was seminar day. I checked in around 11am and walked the show floor for an hour. I had two goals: reconnect with some old acquaintances (Joe Cordiero, Shawn Britton, Ray Stachelek, Armand Courchaine, Bob Popovics, Roger Plourde) and score some feathers. I found two flatwing-worthy saddles and a reddish-brown hen cape for wets. Off to the big room.

I also wanted to meet a few people I didn’t really know. One of them was Jason Randall. It seems like every time I have a piece in American Angler, Jason has one, too. I like his writing and his scientific approach (check out his pocket water piece in the current issue). I caught the tail end of his “Where Trout Are” seminar, introduced myself, and we got in some quality hobnobbing over the next day. I encourage everyone to do likewise. There’s a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience at these shows. Don’t let the fact that someone is well-known intimidate you — people are here to meet, talk, and share information. It’s a real positive energy.

On the board. I got the chance to meet and talk with Ed Engle on Saturday. He’s quiet, thoughtful, and knows much about fly fishing for trout. I wish we’d had more time to chat.

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If you’re a seminar presenter, you get a badge that says “Celebrity” under your name. While I appreciated the title, I was mindful that I’m still just a guy who loves fly fishing. Good crowd — I was a little nervous that there was only one person in the room 15 minutes before show time, but we ended up with a very strong turnout. If you were among them, thanks for coming to see Wet Flies 101!

Saturday I was first up in Room A of the Destination Theater. Another impressive crowd, and we had to take our Q&A out into the hallway (you have a 45-minute hard stop in the DT). Again, thanks for coming, and thanks for laughing at all my jokes.

Tim Flagler from Tightline Productions (really high-end fly tying videos — I covet his editing equipment and skills) was another person I wanted to meet. I’d only spoken with Tim on the phone, so I caught most of his presentation (excellent!), then bent his ear on cameras and shooting out in the hallway. Tim’s a class act.

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I zipped over to Jason Randall’s “Advanced Nymph Fishing” seminar. More good stuff. Jason’s a knowledgeable presenter with a very friendly style. Like Tim, he has some seriously good footage to draw from. Both Tim and Jason made me want to get out on a river post haste. One final lap around the main show floor, and I headed back to Connecticut.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank Chuck and Ben Furimsky for inviting me to play.

Flatwing saddle swag. I’ve got some plans and schemes for these babies (hint: trout).

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I ran into Charles McCaughtry at one of the feather booths. Charles is a Connecticut artist and a currentseams follower. He gifted me two sets of notecards featuring his work. What a thoughtful gesture. Love his impressionistic style.

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