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.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Step-By-Step Tutorial: Salmon Fly Bodies (Variation on Fulsher & Krom)

Hanging out with Keith in his tying room (2011)

When it comes to tying hairwing Atlantic salmon flies, one of my favorite reference books is Hair-Wing Atlantic Salmon Flies by Keith Fulsher and Charlie Krom (Fly Tyer Inc., 1981). Though the book has been out of print for several years, used copies can found relatively easily and for a reasonable price. Many books are just a collection of patterns. Hair-Wing Atlantic Salmon Flies has dressings for more wet flies than anyone needs, but also has great tying instruction (as well as some good stories).

I have been very influenced by the way Mr. Fulsher and Mr. Krom tie wet fly bodies in their book. The first thing that stood out to me was their use of wool in place of floss in the instruction fly. My good friend Bob Skowronski, an innovative fly tyer and superb angler, ties many of his salmon flies with wool instead of floss. Over the years, Bob has schooled me on the merits of a wool body. A few years back, I made the switch from floss to Uni-Stretch. Not long after, I began using wool in place of both in all but a few scenarios. 

Wool holds up better to a salmon's teeth and to rough treatment with hemostats. Also, it absorbs water better, so the flies sink a little more easily. If I want a fly to fish on the surface (i.e., riffling hitch), I still use floss or Uni-Stretch since they absorb less water than wool yarn. Also, some patterns just need floss. I can't imagine tying a Rusty Rat with yarn. 

The other aspect of the Fulsher and Krom body that I have adopted is the tapered, cigar-like shape. By creating a downwards taper towards the head of the fly, the wing lays low and can be tied in over a minimum amount of bulk. Giving thought to material tie-in points and cut-off points go a long way in creating an underbody that enhances the taper. 

Shown below is an illustrated step-by-step of a Fulsher and Krom style wool body. It's not exactly how Fulsher and Krom demonstrate in their book. It's a derivative of their technique that has worked well for me. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. 


Step 1: Start with white thread and tie in a tinsel tip. Tie the butt ends of the tinsel almost to the thread's starting point. Tie in a piece of fluorescent wool yarn for the butt. The tie-in point is about flush with the end of the hook eye's return. 

Step 2: Wrap the butt and tie down the tag end of the wool. The tie-off point should be just behind the tie-in point.

Step 3: Switch to black thread to go underneath the black portion of the body. Tie in the oval silver tinsel rib just behind the tie-off point of the fluorescent yarn. Typically, I would tie in the tail before the rib, but this yarn is a little bulky and I want a higher thread base to keep the angle of the tail down.

Step 4: Tie in the hackle fiber tail just behind the tie-in point of the tinsel. Staggering the tie-in points of the materials helps to create our finished body taper. 

Step 5: Tie in a piece of yarn for the body (black, in this case). The tie in point should be just behind the tie in point of the tail. 

Step 6: Advance the thread to the point where the body will end. Wind the wool forwards, but not all the way to the thread. 

Step 7: Reverse the direction of the wool. Wrap it backwards over the small section of forwards-wrapped wool. Stop at the fluorescent butt. 

Step 8: Wind the yarn towards the eye. Note that the last couple of turns will be over the little bit of thread that isn't covered with wool. Tie off the wool. 

Step 9: Wrap the oval tinsel rib with five even turns and tie off. Notice the body's distinct downward taper. This will help prevent the wing from kicking up. Also make note of how much space is left between the completed body and the eye. There should be enough room that the eye is not crowded when finished. 

Step 10: Tie a throat hackle over the few turns of thread used to tie down the tinsel. Tie the wing to an appropriate length, make a neat thread head, and finish the fly with two coats of lacquer. 

Black Bear Green Butt (sz. 6)
The wing is fox mask (dyed black) subbed for bear hair

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fun With New Gear

Orvis Hydros 966-4 and Islander IR4
I love this combo!

As stated in previous gear reviews, I'm not always going to talk about the latest and/or greatest. In the case of high priced items like rods and reels, I'm usually pretty far from being on the cutting edge. I think I can offer some perspective on reasonably priced gear though. In addition to a couple of old standbys, I fished two new combos this spring.

Orvis Hydros 966-4 and Islander IR4

The reel came first in this combo. It was very lightly used and came with an extra spool. I am very happy with my other Islander reel, an LX 3.6, which I used last season on my old Sage 9' 7wt. rod. I wanted to bounce that reel over to my Sage 11' 6 wt. switch rod. I decided to replace it with a used Islander IR4, which is Islander's click and pawl model. The reel wound up being way too light for the old, tip-heavy Sage 7wt. I was pretty disappointed, but not for long. The only solution was to buy a new rod! 

I didn't want to buy another 7 wt. rod. I already have one I love, plus a nice backup. I had two 9' six weights already, but neither has a fighting butt, so I looked around for a "saltwater 6wt." I found myself at the Orvis outlet one afternoon and tried an Access and a Hydros, both 9' 6" 6 wts. The reel balanced better on the Hydros despite the fact that that the Access was actually lighter. The Access felt sort of clunky, but the Hydros 966-4 casted beautifully. It's a shame the Hydros is no longer made (I don't think it was made for very long to begin with). 

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. This combo became my primary rig for American shad fishing this season. And what a combo it was! The rod and reel are a nearly perfect fit. They are light in the hand and perform flawlessly. The rod is a 6 wt. with some backbone and it handled both weighted shad flies and strong fish admirably. If I had to pick one, however, I'd say the Islander IR4 reel is the true star of the pair. Man, this reel SINGS! I will never get tired of this sound. Like its more expensive siblings, it's a solid piece of gear, beautifully machined and pretty to boot. Given the favorable exchange rate, I ordered the large arbor spool to use the reel with my 5 wt. trout rod. 

I had such fun with this pair, it will probably become my primary single handed rig for the Naugatuck salmon season this fall. It was such a blast fishing this combo, I'm looking into suitable summer quarry just so I can keep using it. Carp, perhaps? 

Ross Reach 7119-4 and Danielsson L5W 6nine

Ross Reach 7119-4 and Danielsson L5W 6nine

Technically, I began fishing this combo last December. I think I only fished it once, though. I definitely didn't hook anything with it until this spring. This rig was supposed to be my main setup for fishing small stripers and large sea run browns. If you read my last post, you'd know that never materialized. I did catch some smallmouth bass and American shad with it though. 

I bought the rod on Sierra Trading Post at the insistence of my friend, "The Good Doctor." The doctor has several rods from this line, but raves about the Ross Reach 11'9" 7 wt. switch in particular. With a 40% off coupon, I figured I'd buy it to replace the Redington CPX 11'3" 7 wt. I had borrowed for several years. I used it with two lines: a Vision Ace Scandi F/I  (28' & 380 gr.) and a Rio Steelhead Scandi that started at 31' and 410gr., but I lopped 2' off the front taper to help throw heavy polyleaders better. The line modification worked well and the rod had no problem throwing a moderately weighted fly and a 7.0 ips Versileader. The rod is very light and a pleasure to cast. I look forward to using it with an uncut scandi head and small, unweighted flies, preferably for Canadian salmon this summer (plans not definite). 

I already owned an old, Loop-era Danielsson LW 6nine, which is a very similar reel. I sold off my old Orvis reels and needed a few replacements. I bounced the older Danielsson over to my 8 wt. single handed set up. The new L5W 6nine pairs well with the Ross switch rod. It is a very lightweight reel, so it needs a suitably lightweight rod. According to the specs, the new reel has a slightly larger capacity than the old reel. To me, the range of adjustment in the drag is noticeably wider in the new reel. It's a very smooth reel, especially upon startup. If you absolutely need to keep a fish in the pool, you can really crank down the drag on a Danielsson. Plus, the entire range of drag adjustment can be changed easily, providing an overall lighter or stronger drag range. The outgoing click is very quiet, which some people might not like. It doesn't sing like a click and pawl reel, or even my disc drag Islander, but I don't mind. It does its job extremely well and is a very versatile reel. I've never heard one bad word spoken about Danielsson reels. 

It's a shame this Swedish reel company isn't more of a presence in North America. Reels can be purchased directly from the Danielsson webshop. They are very reasonably priced*. With the relative strength of the USD, now's the time to buy to save a few bucks. 

*Use the webshop prices, not the prices on the main site. The former reflect the current exchange rate and are lower than the prices listed on the main site (for now).


Other than a Beulah Platinum 9' 5wt., that's it...for now...Yikes! Time to offload more old gear on eBay!

The American shad season is pretty much over.
I need to find another fishery for this combo, asap!