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

Farmington River Report 7/16/15: It must be magic

I guided Jim yesterday afternoon into evening, and we started in some faster water in the permanent TMA with a little Wet Fly 101. While we found a few feeders, they were reluctant to jump on. So we headed up river to get situated for some topwater action during the evening rise.

A sulphur emergence of sorts. No editing legerdemain here; some funky macro setting on the camera did this. We had a nice assortment of bugs last night: Sulphurs (14-16), Summer Stenos (18-20), Isonychia (10-12), BWOs, (14, 18-20), and midges. However, the spinner fall was not what I had hoped for. Every day — or evening — is different. Cold again! Water temp in the permanent TMA was 58 degrees. Sulphur Emerger


A nice brown that absolutely hammered Jim’s size 20 BWO Comparadun. Terrific hook set by Jim on this fish. Jim BWO Brown


Same fish, moments before release. Jim's brown release


I waited until what I thought was the right moment during the hatch to introduce Jim to The Magic Fly. This is what happened on his second cast ever with that pattern. Another fat, beautiful wild Farmington brown to net. Jim did a great job, and was a pleasure to fish with.

Jim Magic Fly


After Jim left, I banged around the river in the dark from 9:30 to almost 1:00am. While I had plenty of action — close to ten bumps — most of them were smaller fish, with no resulting hookups. Here’s a fifteen-inch brown who did stick. I like the play of water and flash along his flanks.

Monster Delaware brown on the Magic Fly

I received this from Keith A. last night:

Hi Steve,
Want you to know that I just caught a monster brown, at the Delaware river, on one of the flies that you tied for me. Size 18. My guess is 24+”.


No, Keith. Thank you. And well done!

In proper nomenclature, these would be Pale Watery wingless wet variants. I think, however, that Keith would cast his vote in favor of calling it The Magic Fly.

Magic Flies

Farmington River Mini Report 5/15/15: Trout (nearly) everywhere

Fished from 11:30am till 3:45pm today with the goal of hitting seven spots. I made five, which doesn’t suck. What doesn’t suck even more — or is that less? — is that I found trout willing to jump on in four of the five places I fished (two within the permanent TMA and three outside it — wouldn’t you know the only place I blanked was inside the TMA). I spent most of the time dedicated to the nymphing cause, but at my last stop I switched over to a team of wets and connected with a fat rainbow on a size 12 Dark Hendrickson wet. All the trout today were rainbows.

They bumped up the flow from the dam, and we currently have about 275cfs of cold water coming through the permanent TMA. I didn’t take a temp, but I’m guessing 50 degrees — if that. Hatch activity was slow: caddis, midges, some BWOs, a few stray Hendricksons. There were very few rising fish, even with the low water levels, and what was rising was doing so sporadically. Damn fine weather, and a lovely day for a post-lunch Rocky Patel The Edge Toro.

Fred here smacked my size 12 copper bead head UV pink hot spot dark hare’s ear nymph like it owed him money.


What happens in a fly tying class

Arrival, ten minutes before class. One of my students pulls into the space next to me and greets me with, “It’s the professor.” The first thing that goes through my head is, red tail, yellow floss body, gold tinsel rib, brown hackle, mallard wing. Yes. I am a  fly pattern nerd.

Introductions are made, and name tags are filled out. I have a pathological flaw when it comes to remembering names. I don’t know who who thought of the concept of “Hello, my name is,” but whoever you are, I don’t think the word “genius” is an excessive blandishment.


I have seven students. They ask many questions. Some of my answers are too long, and stray down labyrinthine anecdotal paths. But everyone seems interested. Thank God for captive audiences.

All fly tiers are not created equal, and in any given class you have a broad range of skill levels. I look at some of the finished flies, and they will never grace the pages of a fly tying magazine. But, so what? To a trout, they will be beautiful. And that is all that matters. I also notice that some of the tiers are making significant improvements over the course of a couple hours. I would like to take credit for this, but I really can’t. I comes from within the tier. Still, it is gratifying to witness.

And then, we’re done. Seven flies (Partridge and Cahill, Drowned Ant, BWO Spider, Dark Hendrickson, Squirrel and Ginger, Ginger Caddis Larva, Pale Water Wingless) in a little over four-and-a-half hours. Thank you, gentlemen, for letting me be your instructor (and well done, all of you!). Thank you, UpCountry, for letting me teach. And thank you, Mother Nature, for saving the snow until Monday.

Showtime on Tyers’ Row

The CFFA Expo just might be the best little fly fishing show going. This is the second consecutive year I attended as a tier. Fellow tier Tommy Baranowski remarked that the crowd seemed steadier and more substantial this year. I’d be inclined to agree.

So, what goes on at these events when you’re part of the show?

Not much tying. At least not for me. I think I tied eight wet flies and one streamer in six hours. I’m a slow tier, but that’s pushing ridiculous. What was left wanting in productivity was made up for in talking, though. Most of it about fishing and tying. So much that my throat is a little sore right now. But, I don’t mind. These shows are a tremendous way to connect with friends, followers, and fellow aficionados (including those of single malts and cigars). Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hi, ask questions, our watch a demo. It was a labor of love for me.

Thanks also to the vendor (who shall remain anonymous so as to make his altruism shine even brighter) who only charged me $20 for $22 of stuff, then threw in a bunch more stuff for free. Endless tight lines to you, sir.

Thanks to the Baranowski boys for being such swell neighbors, and thanks for the fly, Matt.

Thanks to Capt. Ray for the archival flatwing article.

Thanks to Dr. Kuhrt for lending his photography skills.

And thanks to the CFFA for letting me be a part of it all. I’ll tell you, this is one job that does not suck.

“But, you’ve really got to watch out for this guy here.” I’m not sure what I was saying, but I think I must have made my point. And nothing says outdoors and fishing like that groovy Fantasy Suite disco light veil.

CFFA 2015

Getting Wet at UpCountry

It’s officially fly tying season, and we kicked off the festivities with a wet flies and fuzzy nymphs class at UpCountry on Sunday. A good group who came armed with many questions and even more enthusiasm. We managed to get through eight patterns covering soft-hackles, wingless wets, winged wets, and fuzzy nymphs. We’ll have an encore performance on Sunday the 8th, weather permitting. Thanks so much to everyone — you truly made the class an easy one to lead.

If you’ve signed up for the February 8th class, dress warmly. The tying room is a wee bit chilly.

All in a half-day’s work. Clockwise from far left: Beadhead SHPT, Dark Hendrickson, Partridge and Cahill, Drowned Ant, PWW wet (Magic Fly), Squirrel and Ginger, Ginger Caddis Larva, GRHE Fuzzy Nymph


Hope to see you this Saturday, February 7, at the CFFA show at Maneeley’s in South Windsor, CT.