Monthly Archives: September 2015

Rich Strolis: Flies for ‘The Toughest Fish’

I was lucky enough to tie flies next to Rich Strolis at Partridge Days at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum earlier this month.

Rich made a name for himself while guiding on the great trout rivers of western Connecticut, close to his hometown of Russell, Massachusetts. He’s become one of the leaders of the modern streamer fly movement, targeting large fish with large flies.

Trout Dart

It’s challenging to design a fly that’s big enough to tempt a big fish while remaining easy to cast and resistant to getting the tail wrapped around the hook. The fly shown here is a rough draft of one of Rich’s current flies, the Pike Dart. He usually adds either a head or an eye of some sort, but he had to run off to give a presentation on streamer fishing.

It’s a great-looking fly with a smart design – a body made from an EP Fibers dubbing brush gives the fly a nice fat profile and keeps the tail away from the bend of the hook. Here’s a video showing how it’s tied.

Rich ties this fly anywhere from 7 to 9 inches long, in various colors, to catch pike. He said he would consider this one a Trout Dart, but I think it would be a great peanut bunker imitation for striped bass. (The larger ones would obviously be good striper flies too.)

Rich has a book coning out January 1: Catching Shadows: Tying Flies for the Toughest Fish and Strategies for Fishing Them, by Stackpole Books. I’m looking forward to reading it.

strolis book cover

Gierach Coming to the Catskills

John Gierach, author of Trout Bum, Another Lousy Day in Paradise and 18 other books, will be inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s Hall of Fame Oct. 10.

Also being inducted is Bill Elliott, an artist who has illustrated 38 books and whose work has run in all the big hunting and fishing magazines, including Field & Stream, Sports Afield and Outdoor Life.

Curt Gowdy, host and producer of The American Sportsman (and a member of 20 other halls of fame, as an angler and sportscaster) and Charles Ritz, influential 20th century fly-fishing author, will be inducted posthumously.

Gierach gave a talk at The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey in January. Here’s a report I did on that event for


The Improved Montana Stone

The Improved Montana Stone is a traditional all-purpose nymph. What’s unusual about it is its very simple construction. It’s made of one feather and a six-inch piece of wool yarn (not counting the chassis – hook, lead and thread.)

Improved Montana 12

I’m a big fan of yarn as a material for sub-surface flies. It’s quicker, easier and probably cheaper than dubbing fur onto tying thread, and creates a natural, slightly rough-looking body with built-in segmentation. You can separate the yarn into plies to make smaller flies or use it as is for the larger models.

Speaking of larger models, I brought a handful of IMS to the Farmington River in Connecticut, which thanks to Mother Nature, the Hartford water supply district and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is chock full of sizable trout.

brown trout farmington 2 8-29-15

It’s unusual to catch anything smaller than an honest 12 inches on the Farmington, and if you do catch anything smaller than that it’s a wild trout, which is always nice. People who know the river well land 20-inchers on a regular basis. I’m not one of them, but having grown up on skinny 9-inch hatchery yearlings over the state line in New York, I enjoy the Farmy’s plump, 12-inch browns.

The IMS was met with approval by a few handsome trout and one acrobatic show-off bass during a couple of brief sessions over the weekend.

farmington brown 8-29-15

As its name suggests, the Improved Montana is a stonefly pattern, but I figured it would be a good Isoynchia nymph in size 10 and the fish didn’t disagree.

The wing case did pop loose on one fly after a tussle with a trout. So the IMS isn’t exactly bomb-proof. But it’s so easy to make, I consider it expendable.

You’ll find the recipe and how the fly came to be on page 74 of Simple Flies: 52 Easy to Tie Patterns That Catch Fish.