Booming and Zooming! Thanks, and up next…

Booming and Zooming. That’s what the test pilots called it when they broke the sound barrier while flying in a parabolic arc. We did our own version of B&Z last night: 50 attendees at the inaugural Currentseams Zoom — Wet Flies & Soft Hackles in case you missed it — and only one big boom! (thanks for your patience) that we sorted out. So: thanks to everyone who took the time to participate. I had fun. I hope you did, too. I know some of you arrived late and I didn’t see you in the entry queue. Mea culpa. And apologies. I appreciate your patience as I sort through this technology.

We’ll do another one of these, hopefully next week, date TBD. I like the 8pm EST start. I’m  hearing a lot of interest in a striper talk, so that’s probably where we’re headed. Figure the same format, a presentation then Q&A.

If you have not yet gotten on the official Currentseams Zoom email list — please send me an email — not a comment here — to swculton @ yahoo so I have a valid email url. I’ll get you on it lickety-split. Thanks again, and please stay safe and well.

Did somebody say stripers on Zoom?




Tuesday Night Zoom 4/21/20: Wet Flies & Soft Hackles

You’re invited to my inaugural Currentseams Zoom, tonight, Tuesday 4/21 at 8pm. The topic will be Wet Flies & Soft Hackles. I’ll talk for a bit (I’m assuming I’ll have more than 3 players, so I’ll be limited to 40 minutes) and then we’ll do a Q&A. I’ll thank you in advance for your patience as this will be my first time doing this. There will certainly be bugs, but I’m hopeful that we’ll work through them.

So: you’ll want a link and a meeting ID. I’ll send that out via email…in fact, some of you may already have received it. IMPORTANT: If you responded to my Zoom post last week, you’re already on the email list, except Lee, David Larson, and Dan Tobin. If you’re one of those three guys, please send an email to so I can get a good email address; if you’re not, and you want to join my Zoom email list, please do likewise.

Thanks for your enthusiasm, and I’ll see you at 8pm.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.




Partridge and Light Cahill Tying Video

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.


Best of North Country Spiders: Waterhen Bloa

You’ll often find BWOs on the greyest of days, so ’tis fitting that this ancient-and-tradtional Olive pattern sports the same somber hues. It also makes a fine Early Grey Stone.

Waterhen Bloa



Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14-18
Silk: Yellow
Body: Silk dubbed with water rat (muskrat) or mole fur
Hackle: Waterhen under covert feather
Tying Notes: Waterhen is difficult to track down. Starling or blue-grey dun hen are suitable replacements. You should be able to see the thread clearly through the dubbing — I call it “dusting the thread.” This fellow is slightly on the heavy side of dubbing. Keep enough thread waxed (I used cobbler’s wax) to avoid having a bright yellow head. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Intro to wet flies and beyond : Essential reading from Sylvester Nemes and Dave Hughes

If you want to learn how to tie and fish wet flies, soft hackles, and fuzzy nymphs for trout, you can start by reading The Soft-Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles by Sylvester Nemes and Wet Flies: Tying and Fishing Soft-Hackles, Winged and Wingless Wets, and Fuzzy Nymphs by Dave Hughes. That’s what I did a long time ago, and I’m a better angler for it.

Too many fly fishing how-to books read like the dictionary — or worse, a quantum physics monograph. Not the case here. Both Hughes and Nemes write with a conversational style, perfectly weaving anecdotes with critical know-how.

The Soft-Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles is a combination of two of Nemes’ earlier works. It’s a pattern book for sure, but there’s also plenty of relevant storytelling. It’s loaded with peals of wisdom (“If you have never tied flies before, I urge you to start immediately. The practice is exhilarating.”) and hidden gems like using North Country spiders for steelhead. The purchase price alone is worth being able to tell someone that you’re catching all those trout on a size 20 Smut No. 1.



Hughes’ Wet Flies is likewise a pattern book, with multiple step-by-step photos and clear instructions. But it also covers history, wet fly types, and how to fish them. It’s a user-friendly read that exudes confidence in the patterns and the methods. My only complaint is that it’s a more western US-centric view of the subject. But wherever you live, you’ll find Wet Flies relevant (“Trout aren’t interested in neatness”). Note that there is now a second edition of Wet Flies, with new photos and patterns. I haven’t read it; I trust that it’s pretty darned good, too.


Farmington River Report 7/23/16: More mid-day magic

Today I had the pleasure of teaching the ways of the wet fly to a group from the NYC Chapter of TU. Thanks to everyone who participated; you all did a great job under some truly difficult (again) conditions. I saw improvement in all of you across the board — keep on keeping on, and the trout will surely smile upon you.

Speaking of smiles, we had a little of that mid-day magic again. Look what Jon found at the end of his three-fly team! This wild brown taped out at a full 21″. Taken in the fast water at the head of a pool around 11:30 this morning.



Last fish of the day for Jon. Not as big, but just as wild. Look at the white tips on those fins.  One of very few actively feeding fish we saw today.


Note: they’ve lowered the flow from the dam. 165cfs and 64 degrees in the TMA. Unfortunately, it looks like a scorcher this week. Let’s all do a rain dance — or at least tweak for cooler weather.

How to built a wet fly leader for a team of three flies

One of the most frequent questions I get is, “How do you build a wet fly leader?” This material originally appeared in my article “Wet Fly 101: Take the ancient and traditional path to subsurface success” (American Angler Nov/Dec 2013) but I wanted to give it its own place here on currentseams.

At first glance, building a multi-fly dropper rig looks complicated. But basically, you’re just tying three triple surgeon’s knots. You’ll need a 9-foot, 3x or 4x tapered leader for the butt section, and some 4 or 6-pound Maxima (I prefer Chameleon [AUTHOR’S NOTE: I used UltraGreen four-pound in 2014 and it worked just as well as Chameleon]) for the droppers. I’ve tried a lot of different leader materials, and Maxima is by far the best because of its stiffness. I use the 4-pound in lower, clearer flows. 

Wet Fly Three FLy team

Here’s a pdf of the diagram: Three-fly wet fly leader

Step 1: Cut off the bottom three feet of the tapered leader. Discard this bottom section.

Step 2: Knots are not worthy of your trust. Wet every knot before you pull it tight, and test every knot by giving it a good tug. The heat of battle with a trophy trout is a bad time to discover you tied a substandard knot.

Step 3: Tie just over a foot of Maxima to the tapered leader with a triple surgeon’s knot. The bottom of this section will form the first dropper. Trim both tag ends.

Step 4: The ideal length between wet flies is somewhere between 18 and 24 inches; I prefer my dropper tags between 4 and 6 inches. If you’re going to build a dropper rig with the flies 24 inches apart and the tags 6 inches long, you’ll need a 30-inch section (24 + 6 = 30) of Maxima for the next step.

Step 5: Take the first, shorter section of Maxima (the one you tied to the tapered leader) and hold it 6 inches from the end. This will be your first dropper. Join the 30-inch section to the shorter section at this point with a triple surgeon’s knot.

Step 6: Trim the excess of the second section above the knot (the part you trim is on the butt side of the leader). You should now have a dropper tag about 6 inches long, pointing away from the butt, and about 30 inches of Maxima below it.

Step 7: You’re in the home stretch. This is basically a repeat of step 5. Grab the second section of Maxima 6 inches from the end, and join another 30-inch section of Maxima to it with a triple surgeon’s knot. As with Step 6, trim the excess above the knot.

Step 8: You should now have a rig that looks like the one the diagram: two shorter tags, to which you’ll tie dropper flies, and a longer end section, to which you will tie the point fly.


Good things happen when you give the trout a choice.


Farmington River Report 7/18/15: Wet, Dry, Pow!

After the Wet Flies 101 class I wandered off to investigate a snotty, treacherous boulder field with a team of wets. From top dropper to point, a size 12 Partridge and Light Cahill, a size 12 Hackled March Brown, and a size 12 BHSHPT. The sulphurs and Isos were out, as were the Cedar Waxings, who were having a regular airborne feast. I witnessed several sulphurs make it out of the river, only to be snapped up by an open beak moments after their emergence. The wet fly fishing started slowly, but as the hour hand moved past 6pm, things picked up. I ended up with over a half dozen fish, all wild browns save for one recent stockee, that ranged from eight inches to the low teens. I took them on the swing, the dangle, and short line deep. Some of them were active feeders; it’s always fun to successfully target specific fish, but I’ll take the ones that aren’t showing themselves just as readily.

The smallest trout of the day, but surely one of the hardest fighters. He hammered the BHSHPT on the swing.

Fast Water Wild Brown

Part Two of the evening was dedicated to the dry fly cause. At least in theory it was. I fished a spot that has seen declining numbers in fish in recent years, and sadly, that trend continued last night. I saw only handful of rises over the course of two hours. (I think I saw two dozen rises as I drove over the bridge at Church Pool earlier in the day.) Some olives and stenos, but not many of them. I was able to get two offers to the dry, but no hook sets.

Now well into dusk, the dry skunk would have been a bummer way to end the day. So I took the long way home and walked a pool with a nameless cone head black marabou streamer tied to the end of my leader. Plenty of bumps as darkness fell kept me entertained, but no hookups meant the fish were smaller than the foot-and-a-half-plus browns I was after. Off to Spot B where I couldn’t see squat due to the dense fog bank that had settled over the river. A bit of a disappointment with only one bump and no hook sets. (I know there are some bigger fish that live there. Where you at?)

Finished up at Spot C with an olive Zoo Cougar. The fog enveloped me with its chilly fingers, but I could now see some stars in the clearing skies. It was quiet.

Quiet enough to hear the sound of the brown as it tracked the streamer down and across the current. Bump! No return strike. A second cast to the same general area, same swing, same retrieve, same sound effects…Whack! There he is, a mid-teens brown that put a smile on my face and a skip in my wading step.

Then, a few minutes later…plop. I heard the fly hit the water. CRASH! The sound of the take came before I felt the tug or even managed to get the rod into post-cast position. Another good fish, not quite a bruiser, but aggressive enough to charge headlong at what must have looked like a most satisfying dining experience.

Speaking of food, I was famished. So I sped off to the McDonald’s in Unionville, which I discovered is closed at 11:30 on a Saturday night. Really? Closed? Saturday night? Contrary to the corporate tagline, I wasn’t lovin’ it.

That last brown must have felt the same way.