Monday, September 28, 2015

Cascade: Video Step-By-Step

Here's another video tutorial, this time a shrimp/longtail pattern made famous by Scotland's Ally Gowans. Forgive the dog barking and telemarketing calls...

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Flies for Connecticut Atlantic Salmon - How to Tie and Fish Them" Ebook available now!

Over 300 pages of tying instruction, fly recipes, and fishing tips

Flies for Connecticut Atlantic Salmon
How to Tie and Fish Them
by Ben Bilello

    Connecticut’s broodstock Atlantic salmon fishery is the only one of its kind in the United States. For local anglers, broodstock Atlantic salmon fishing is one of the most reliable ways to catch a large fish in fresh water. For anglers interested in Atlantic salmon fishing, this fishery is a great resource for learning and practicing the techniques used to catch Atlantic salmon around the world.

    “Flies for Connecticut Atlantic Salmon” has recipes for 75 effective wet, dry, and tube fly patterns, as well as 11 in-depth, step-by-step tutorials. Instructions on how, when, and where to fish these flies can be found throughout the book. The premium edition has embedded links which allow the reader to easily jump between pages, chapters, and a fly pattern index. Other premium edition links allow the reader to examine flies, tying techniques, and fishing strategies found on external websites. “Flies for Connecticut Atlantic Salmon” is a valuable resource for fly tyers and non-tying anglers alike. 

Premium Edition (for Mac OS X, iPad, and iPhone) - $19.99

PDF Edition (compatible with all operating systems) - $14.99

Monday, August 31, 2015

Classic and Modern Fly Shop Update - Now Live

New flies, like this Temple Dog, are now available.

The Classic and Modern Fly Shop has been updated and is now live. Check it out by clicking here. 

The Paypal cart is gone and all orders will be done through email. Though this seems like a step backwards, more flies and sizes are will be available. Since each order is now a custom order, consider ordering in advance of the Connecticut salmon season for fastest service. 

Thanks for checking out the fly shop! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Gearing Up for Fall

...and I still feel like I don't have enough

Well, we could be salmon fishing in Connecticut in as little as month from now. Let's hope the weather cooperates. In the meantime, I am getting my fly boxes together, oiling my reels, and making sure all my ferrules are clean. Also, I am going to disinfect my boots and waders, so as not to spread any harmful aquatic species, such as didymo. I suggest you do the same! 

Fly Shop Update

For the past few years, I have kept a small inventory of salmon flies in stock for the CT broodstock season. Because of the time it took to write my forthcoming ebook, I didn't have a chance to replenish my stock this summer. I will still take orders, though it won't be as easy as adding them to your PayPal cart from my website. In the next week or so, I will post pics of flies and prices in the Fly Shop page on my site. If you are interested in buying flies for the upcoming season, just send me an email. Let me know which flies you'd like, the sizes, and the quantity of each. If you need help choosing flies, I would be glad to offer suggestions. 

If possible, get to me early for the fastest service. Once fall gets rolling, I will be fishing, guiding, and doing a lot of performing and recording sessions. 

Book Update

The book is pretty much done. It is being proofread and edited now. After that, I need to submit it to online vendors, which shouldn't take long. I'm aiming for a release date around the first or second week of September, which should coincide well with the upcoming salmon season. I'll be posting more updates as it gets closer to launch, so check back often. 

Still missing Sugerman Shrimps, size 10. Time to get on it! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

New "Flies for Connecticut Atlantic Salmon" ebook Available Soon!

Sorry I have not posted in several weeks, but I have been busy putting the finishing touches on a new ebook. The book, at the moment called "Flies For Connecticut Atlantic Salmon: How to Tie and Fish Them," accurately reflects the working title. Here are some details:

Over 300 pages of fly patterns, tying tips and instructions, and recommendations on how and when to fish each fly

11 step-by-step tutorials for the most valuable broodstock salmon flies (5 wet fly tutorials, 1 dry fly tutorial, and 5 tube fly tutorials)

Over 50 additional pattern recipes 

Extensive breakdown of tying and fishing tube flies

Detailed explanations of salmon wet, dry and tube fly anatomies 

Advice on selecting the proper tools and materials 

Broodstock salmon fishing tips and strategies 

Clickable links to bring the reader to external websites 

Clickable links to navigate to external fly tying tutorials and videos

...and much more!

The book will be a valuable resource for fly tyers and non-tyers alike. It will also prove useful for those who live elsewhere, but wish to learn tying techniques for Atlantic salmon and steelhead. 

A premium, feature-rich version will be available for Apple OS and iOS devices (Mac, iPad, and iPhone). For those who don't use Apple products, the book will be available in PDF form at a lower price. I hope to have the book ready before the start of the Connecticut broodstock Atlantic salmon fishing season, most likely the beginning of September. 

Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks! 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Gray Ghost Bucktail & Good News! (re: Kensington Hatchery)

Blasphemy, perhaps, but it works 

There's not much to say about this one. The Gray Ghost is a classic New England streamer we all know and love. This rendition liberally substitutes both natural and synthetic materials. The way I figure, if you're going to tie a big streamer, it might as well be flashy.

This fly is a small piece of a project I have brewing. I'll post more specific news about that as it takes shape. Until then, here is the recipe...


Gray Ghost Bucktail

Hook: Daiichi 2271; sz. #1-#2 or Mustad 9672 (R74); sz. #2-#6
Thread: White 6/0 & Black 6/0
Tag: Silver mini flat braid
Rib: Oval silver tinsel (wide)
Throat: White bucktail and yellow hackle 
Wing: Grey bucktail with UV Pearl Krystal Flash (optional); topped with peacock herl
Shoulder: Silver pheasant body feather
Sides: Jungle cock (optional)
Head: Black with red thread band (optional)


Good News!

Autumn can't get here soon enough

Yesterday morning, I checked the Connecticut River Salmon Association's website like I do from time to time. They are a great organization and I high recommend browsing their site and learning about all the great work they do. Anyhow, I noticed a headline about how the Kensington hatchery has made it back into the state's budget. There is more information about the recent legislative session on the CT River Alliance's website

This is great news! Thank you to all who wrote letters, emails and made phone calls on behalf of the Kensington hatchery, its staff and its trout and salmon. It looks like we'll have another salmon season in Connecticut in 2015. Start tying flies now. Fall will be here before you know it! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Urban Fishing...why not?

Fishing for Atlantic salmon in Shonguy, Russia.
Some buildings look like they are straight out of a WWII movie.
(Picture courtesy of J. Springer)

I've been fortunate enough to fish some truly spectacular places. The Colorado River, in Lee's Ferry, Arizona, is deep within Glen Canyon, the entrance to the Grand Canyon. The scenery was spectacular enough for me to miss a few wild rainbow trout, being totally memorized by the height, color and textures of the canyon walls. Staring into the crystal clear water of Quebec's Bonaventure River can be just as hypnotic. The beautiful blue Pacific off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island is truly a sight to behold. If I had to pick one place to spend the rest of my life, it would probably on one of the Hawaiian Islands.

It can be just as easy to get wrapped up in the beauty of my local water. What's prettier than the Housatonic River in autumn? My hometown shores of Narragansett, Rhode Island are beautiful and have enormous sentimental value to me. When a bald eagle flies over the Farmington River, I always stop what I'm doing to watch it glide by.

Many of us fish to be in places like the ones mentioned above. It's a great escape from a hectic office or life in a frantic city. The air is clean, the colors are vivid and they are places where we can clear our heads and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings.

Having said all of that, I'm not one to let the grit of what has come to be called "urban fishing" bother me one bit. In fact, I spend more time than ever fishing in urban environments. It's remarkable how good urban fishing can be. In fact, some of my most memorable fishing experiences have been in cities. For anglers willing to swap beautiful meadows and beaches for rundown industrial parks and highway overpasses, there is some excellent fishing to be had in cities across the globe.

Jock Scott and trash

Like a lot of fly fisherman, I was initially put off by the noise commonly found in urban fisheries. The traffic sound is probably the biggest aural distraction, followed by the occasional sounds of sirens. One of my best days of fishing anywhere was on the Dutch side of the island of St. Maarten. I fished behind a police station, which happened to be next to a busy traffic circle. The ever present sound of roaring engines, police and ambulance sirens, and car horns was enough to drive a fly fisherman mad. Hitting concrete walls with my backcast didn't help, either. Despite the less than idilic setting, the place was loaded with small tarpon who were on the feed. It was pretty easy to block out the noise when 10-25 lb. baby tarpon were busy inhaling topwater flies.

Some places have a "unique" scent, which can be even more off-putting than the sounds. The Naugatuck River has a slight aroma. It bothered me a little at first. I have since learned to ignore it. I've fished there so much, I'm not sure I can detect it anymore. It's not bad in most places. There is one area, however, that I won't fish due to its proximity to a sewage treatment plant. The smell is just too much for me. It's a shame. There are some nice pools there although, as tolerant as I am, I just can't stomach it for any length of time.

This dragon reminds me of old Powell & Peralta skateboard graphics.
I have to say, I actually like some of the graffiti.

Then there are the eyesores. My newly found shad fishing spot fits into this category. There is trash almost everywhere. There are tires in the water, liquor bottles all over the banks, graffiti on most flat surfaces, and abandoned factory buildings all around. I only started fishing there this year but, since I have been conditioned by other urban fisheries, the setting rarely bothered me. When the fishing was red hot, as it was on a few occasions, all I saw was the water, the fish, and my line flying out of my reel.

Finally, there are the people. In some cases, there are lots of people, many of whom offer unsolicited fishing tips any chance they get. Most wouldn't know which end of a hook to tie on their line. However, for every five or so delusional "experts," there is someone who will offer really helpful advice. The best tips usually come from conventional fishermen, not other fly anglers. The delicate sensibilities of the fly angler usually keeps him or her away from such locations, but spin fishers are no strangers here. Many are totally keyed into what's going on in their urban fishery. Every season on the Naugatuck, the information I find most reliable comes from a small group of spin fishing friends who know the river inside and out.

Then there are the impoverished. Sometimes I find it difficult to enjoy my leisure time when I'm looking right at a homeless person who is sick and living under a bridge. It's an image that can be difficult to witness, especially in cold weather. If I know I might come across someone who has fallen on rough times, I pack an extra sandwich in case I bump into him or her.

Old friends, catching up behind an abandoned waterfront factory

So they are the people you might want to talk to. How about the ones you'd rather avoid? Some are more irritating than others. The graffiti artists vandalize public and private property, but some of their artwork is pretty cool. The dog walkers can be a real problem, especially if they let their dog swim into the pool while people are fishing. Drug addicts and dealers are an unwelcome part of urban fishing, but most keep a low profile and are rarely a problem.

As far as directly affecting the quality of fishing goes, the worst culprits are the rule breakers and poachers. Never have I witnessed such overt displays of poaching as I did when fishing northern Russia's Kola River. When a pair of camo-clad poachers stretch a net right below your pool, you might as well pack up and move, because not much is getting through. The worst part was seeing that activity go unpunished in the less regulated sectors of the river. It happens at home, too. Maybe not as frequently or on such a grand scale, enough to be a real downer.

Kola River poachers hard at work
(Picture courtesy of J. Springer)

Spectators can be another annoying byproduct of urban fishing. Did you just land a really big fish right next to a park's walking path? Have you ever caught fish after fish within view of passersby? Having a great day of urban fishing can be a longterm kiss of death if people see you and call their friends. It happened to me earlier this season. Other than giving up when the fishing is good, which is silly, I'm not sure how to prevent being watched.

Despite the drawbacks, I've had enough positive  urban fishing experiences to keep me going. Unless it's downright dangerous, I'd never turn down a chance to experience good fishing just because it wasn't in a wilderness, or even suburban, setting. I spend virtually all spring and fall fishing in urban settings. I have made memories and new friends while urban fishing. I have taken some interesting pictures that really tell a story. Best of all, I have caught some serious fish right in the middle of the city. All this and very few mosquito bites to show for it!

The payoff: A beautiful springer caught between a
water treatment plant and train tracks.