It’s Show Time! Steve Culton’s Fly Fishing Show Marlborough Schedule

Greetings, fellow currentseamsers. I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday — and for those of you in the northeast, I hope you’ve successfully navigated this wretched early winter storm. On to the fun stuff!

Once again, I will be giving multiple talks at the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, MA, January 17, 18 &19, 2020:

Friday, January 17: Tactical Advantage: Angler vs. Trout, 12pm. Destination Theater, Room A. The best trout anglers enjoy a tactical advantage by constantly making adjustments, trying different approaches, following tried-and-true best practices, and fine-tuning their presentations. Here are 15 specific, proven tactics that will give you a decisive edge on your next trout expedition. This is a new presentation, and you can be there for its debut performance.

Friday, January 17, Seminar: Wet Flies 101, 3pm, Release Room. For those of you who have been asking, “When are you going to be presenting ‘Wet Flies 101’ again?,” here’s your answer! This presentation was recently updated, and provides a basic introduction to this ancient and traditional — and did I mention, “highly effective”? — subsurface method.

Saturday, January 18: Lost Secrets of Legendary Anglers, 10am. Destination Theater, Room C. Have you ever wondered which rod Lee Wulff would use in this situation? What does Ken Abrames do before every cast? Where does Joe Humphries think the most productive spot is on any river? These questions and many more will be answered in LSOLA. Culled from literature and personal interviews, this presentation covers 15 proven tactics and strategies used by master anglers, past and present, to catch more fish.

Sunday, January 19: Tactical Advantage: Angler vs. Trout, 10am. Destination Theater, Room B.

Naturally, I expect (and appreciate) a big turnout from you, the loyal currentseams reader. Please come say hello before or after the presentation. And stay tuned for my Edison, NJ appearance schedule.

Show time again. Speaking and teaching and meeting and greeting is one of my favorite parts of this job.

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Nutmeg TU awarded the Order of Pizza with American Lager Clusters

Many thanks to the Nutmeg Chapter of TU for hosting me last night. For understanding that a fed presenter is a happy presenter, and that nothing washes down a piping hot slice like a cold one, Nutmeg TU receives the aforementioned citation and all the privileges contained therein. What an enthusiastic group, and I can’t remember a presentation where I had three waves of Q&A. Great job, everyone! You made my night. Looking forward to presenting to you again.

Remember that video in the flat pool l showed you? This is the fly I used, my own creation, and it’s called the Squirrel and Ginger. A very, very high confidence wet fly for me, especially when caddis are about. You can find the tying video here.

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“Wet Flies 101” in Bridgeport November 19

Someone recently asked, “When are you going to be presenting Wet Flies 101 again?” I have your answer: Tuesday, November 19, Nutmeg TU, 7pm, Port 5, Bridgeport, CT. If you’re interested in this highly effective and underutilized subsurface method, Wet Flies 101 provides an overview and gateway into this ancient and traditional art. Hope to see you there!  You can find the Nutmeg TU Facebook page here and their website here.

This nearly two foot-long wild brown is one of the best fish I’ve ever taken on a wet fly — and provides testimony to the devastating efficiency of the method.

Wet Flies 101

Thank you FVTU and the question of the night

Whoops — a little glitch made all the words go away. Long story short: Thank you Farmington Valley TU for being so welcoming (as always) and for the delicious pre-gig dinner. (A fed presenter is a happy presenter.) We had the world premier of The Little Things 3.0 and I think it went well. I’m already looking forward to next time.

See you Tuesday, November 19, Nutmeg TU, 7pm, Port 5, Bridgeport, CT. Presentation subject TBD. You can find their Facebook page here.

The question of the night: When I’m wet fly fishing on a tight line drift and I feel the take, how do I set the hook (after pausing and asking the question, “Are you still there?”). I had to go to the video replay to answer this one. It’s a simple lift of the rod tip. A hard set isn’t necessary, mostly because the pause allows the fish to hook itself.

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Tip of the Week: The wrong fly presented correctly is better than the right fly presented incorrectly

I know, it’s a bit of a mouthful. But it’s so true. And it’s played out multiple times in my last two trout outings. “The Wrong Fly Presented Correctly…” strategy is part of my new presentation, The Little Things 3.0, and I wanted to share it with you so you can catch more fish on your next trip.

Situation A: I’m fishing a snotty dump-in at the head of long pool with several feet of depth. I see small (size 16) caddis and tiny BWOs and what looks like a smaller (size 16) sulphur in the air, and a few swirls of rising trout. Problem: I’ve only got my streamer pack with me; the only wet flies I have are big size 10 white fly soft hackles from a summer smallie trip — not even close to what’s hatching. Nonetheless, I rigged up a makeshift wet fly team of two on 8-lb fluoro. Not ideal on a number of fronts — the fly is way too big, it’s the wrong color, the leader system is clunky at best. And yet, I was making it easy for the buyer to buy — and sometimes that’s all you need to do to make a sale.

This handsome brown proves that it’s rarely a bad idea to feed the fish something that looks alive and good to eat (even if it’s the wrong size and color and species) — as long as you feed it to them the same way they’re taking their food. 

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Situation B: Long, languid water, hardly classic wet fly structure or speed. You’d think dry fly all the way on this mark. The trout are smutting on tiny BWOs, producing gentle rise rings, the kind you see with midges or Tricos or — tiny BWOs. I’ve been fishing streamers, so I’ve got an 8-weight WF line — a really bad choice for this kind of water. I do have some smaller BWO wet fly patterns this time, and so two of them go on the team of three. But I like to give the fish a choice, just in case. So I tied on a size 12 Squirrel and Ginger top dropper. This fly is 10 sizes larger than what the trout are feeding on. But I’m fishing in the film, using a mended swing and dead drift to bring the team of flies to hungry mouths, just like the naturals. You can see where this is going…

Bingo! Wrong fly, right presentation, big brown. Go forth and do likewise. Oh, yes — the same rule holds true for stripers.

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Housy Mini-Report 9/18/19: Like buttah

I intended to fish the Hous for smallmouth, but I didn’t like the cold front that came through the day before. So to hedge my bets, I began in the TMA in hopes of some Salmo action. A brilliant day for fishing! 70 degrees, sun and clouds, crisp autumn-like air. Water 191cfs. Started with a streamer in a popular hole, and had a couple small bumps. Then I noticed some risers, and tied on a white fly soft hackle.  “The Wrong Fly Presented Correctly” Part 1: the fish were on Tiny BWO emergers, but I didn’t have anything close to that in my box. So I went with a swung soft hackle just below the surface. Bang!

Like buttah, a gorgeous mid-teens brown that’s been in the river for a while (look at those pecs). I love how nature finds a way despite low flows and scorching summer temps. 

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Downstream in the TMA I discovered a pod of smutting trout in a placid pool. Again, on tiny BWO emergers and again, only the size 10 soft hackle (and 8-pound test tippet to boot) at my disposal. “The Wrong Fly Presented Correctly” Part 2: the answer again was yes.

Wrapped up the trip with some new smallmouth water recon. Very sexy water, but as I feared the cold front put the kibosh on the action. Not to worry. It’s going to be warm this weekend…and there’s always next year.

 

Adding weight to a wet fly team: when and how

“Do you ever add weight to your wet fly rig? If so, where do you place the weight on the leader?” “Do you ever use weighted wet flies?” I get these questions a lot. Here are the answers.

This is how we do it. Two options for adding weight or a weighted fly to a wet fly team. There’s a downloadable pdf link below. FYI, the Maxima I use most often is 4# Ultragreen.

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Let’s start with the last one. I hardly ever use weighted flies, and when I do, it’s with a specific purpose. Syl Nemes was of the opinion that if you were using beadheads or weighted flies, you weren’t wet fly fishing. I have a lot of respect for Syl — he is, after all, a giant in the pantheon of American wet fly fishers — but I find the weighted wet fly a practical arrow to have in one’s quiver.

So, I’ll add a tungsten beadhead wet on point when the water is generally higher than I’d like (500-800cfs on the Farmington); if I’m fishing a deep pool where there are some trout rising, but I suspect the bulk of the emerger action is well beneath the surface; or if I want to sink the flies quickly and then create a more precipitous rise as the line comes tight. If my drift is of any significant length, or the pool is particularly deep, I’ll be throwing mends and keeping slack in the line to help sink the rig. In some cases I may throw a shorter line and “nymph” without touching the bottom — almost like a deep water Leisenring Lift.

Adding weight to the leader is almost always a strategic decision I make based on river structure. Okay — that, and also because I’m lazy. Let’s say I’m wading along, fishing a stretch of riffles and pockets and runs with a water depth of 1-3 feet. Suddenly, I’m faced with a riffle that dumps into a stretch of deep water — or a deep, long pocket. Nothing is rising, and a few swings through prove fruitless. Still, it’s a fishy looking hole, and I’m certain there are trout holding on the bottom. This is where the lazy kicks in. Rather than swap out the wet fly rig, I’ll create a quasi wet fly/nymph rig by adding a removable BB shot just above the knot that forms the middle dropper.

Keep the line plumb when you’re presenting deep. Feel that shot ticking along the bottom. If you detect a strike or if the line moves off vertical, set the hook hard downstream.

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Now I’ve got a three fly team that, when presented correctly, covers two crucial areas of water. If I present like I’m short line/tight line nymphing, the middle dropper fly will be right at the bottom; the point fly, just above the bottom; and the top dropper about 16-24″ off the bottom. I’ll either feel the take, or, as I’m tracking the drift and keeping the line plumb, see the line begin to angle behind the drift; in either case, a hard set downstream is in order.

There is no magic depth for making the decision to present near the bottom. Channel your inner Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, and you’ll know it when you see it.

My client Paul was swinging a team of wets through a run that I knew held fish. We had no takers, so we dipped into the shot-on-the-leader till for some tight line bottom presentations. Ding-ding-ding! Paul scored this gorgeous high teens Survivor Strain truttasaurus.

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