February 2023

Skinny Water Charters Newsletter

Hello James,

Well how about this, two newletters inside of three months!... some kind of record since the early days of crankin 'em out every month.

The days are brighter and longer now as the sun has crossed the equator towards us (or actually the earth has tilted) and that's a little something to cheer about.

I've been relatively busy at the tying vise of late prepping for the May and early June Cinder Worm emergence. I've also been adding to the smallmouth bass fly boxes in preparation for the trip north to Maine in mid-June.

In another month the covers will come off the Mako and Lund and I'll blow out my back, elbows and wrists cleaning the hulls and polishing the fiber glass. (I really should find someone to do that job for me, but I need the exercise.)

I hope you enjoy this somewhat abbreviated newsletter, and hopefully it finds you and your family well.

My Best,

Captain Jim

2023 Cinder Worm Charters

Since my December/ 2022 newsletter I have had a surge of anglers looking to book their cinder worm emergence charters with the result being I am fully booked for May and June. Soon will be the daunting task of fulfilling those charters… a labor of love for sure!

If you have been considering getting on the water to fish the “worm hatch” as we call it, I do have a potential solution for you.

I collaborate with another fly and light tackle guide, Capt. Ray Ramos. Ray drives a brand new 17 foot flats skiff and he and I have fished alongside one another for a couple of years during the worm hatch and I can attest to his boat handling, fish finding and fly casting skills. Ray is also a Certified Fly Casting Instructor with Fly Fishers International so he can also help you with your fly casting skills before the action starts. If you are interested in what Ray has to offer shoot me an email and I’ll make an introduction. Included below is a photo of his new ride.

As for my 2023 cinder worm clients you might be interested to know that I have been at the fly tying vise this winter experimenting first, then producing quantities of some new cinder worm patterns. Some are recreations of successful patterns I’ve used in the past, but changing up some of the materials and tying techniques. Other patterns are completely new and I’m anxious to try them out in early May when the stripers first start showing before my charters start. 

Again let me know if I can team you up with Captain Ray.

Captain Ray Ramos' new ride- a Mitzi17 TE17'

The following photos are a few from last May and June's Cinder Worm emergence

This fish that bent this hook

got away!!

The Fly Show- Marlboro, MA

January 21, 2023

I was asked by the Northeast Chapter of Fly Fishers International to a teach a short fly casting clinic at the Marlboro show and was happy to oblige. These short lessons are fun, a great way to meet some new fly anglers, to provide some “first-timer" fly casting lessons to a few folks, and to also offer advice and pointers to others who have been fly casting for years and who are having a (or several) problems with their technique, whether it’s a distance, accuracy, or line management issue. It’s sometimes also a good opportunity to book a charter or two for the upcoming season.

At this year’s show I had a couple of gents who had never cast a fly rod before. After working with each of them separately I had them casting to hula hoops with reasonable accuracy, out to 40 feet. I should have taken video of the before and after because their development was actually pretty astounding. For each lesson I provide, I also offer to serve as a consultant to my students for any equipment they may be considering purchasing. Purchasing new rods, reels, and lines can be daunting, especially for the new fly caster given the amount of equipment in the marketplace, and who oftentimes are working within a tight budget.

Speaking of new equipment and experienced fly casters who are having difficulties achieving distance and accuracy in their casting, I have a case in point. A gentleman from Cape Cod approached me in the casting area asking for some help. He explained that he was an experienced fly caster, had been fly fishing for years, primarily in saltwater for striped bass. His chief complaint was that he couldn’t cast the distance he needed to reach some of the fish. I asked him to take my rod and to forget for the moment about accuracy but to give it his best shot to cast to the curtain at the end of the casting area, which was about 60 feet downrange. (Unfortunately, he didn’t bring his rod with him so that I could inspect and try it out to see if his line loaded the rod properly, so we worked with my 7-weight Waterworks-Lamson Center Axis rod/reel.) 

The first thing I noticed was how he gripped the rod, it was “wrong”, or rather suboptimal for distance casting. He was using what I call a “golf club" grip, where there is a “V” formed between his forefinger and thumb at the top surface of the cork grip (if you play golf you know what I mean by a golf club grip). The second thing I noticed was his “stop” on the forward casting stroke was essentially pointing at the floor in front of his feet. His “stop” on the backstroke was fine- about 2 o’clock (which actually is about all you can go backwards during a high plane casting stroke without breaking your shoulder). 

OK, so he’s got a bad grip and his stop on the forward stroke is essentially at floor level and, oh yeah, one more thing... his wrist was opening and closing at too wide an angle. The result being a very wide (fat) fly line loop that after his stop resulted in the end of the fly line piling up on the floor at about 50 feet out.

This was going to be an easy fix!

So, I made three corrections: 1. I had him put his thumb on top of the end of the cork grip near where it joins the rod blank (see photo), 2. I had him accelerate his forward casting stroke ending with a hard stop at about the 10 o’clock position- like he was tossing darts (that’s right... the classic 10 to 2 model many are familiar with, which for our casting arrangement that day, was about right.) Fix #3 was to get the opening and closing of the wrist under control (opening and closing no more than about 45 degrees). So after about ten minutes of implementing these three changes, his line was crashing into the curtain at 60 feet and he had this look of astonishment on his face!

So, I said to him... now I want you take a few false casts using a haul (double haul) on both the back and forward strokes to develop some line speed and I want you to aim at a point on the opposite wall about 3 feet above and beyond the top rail of the curtain.

He made the cast and the fly line easily sailed over the curtain. I estimated had there been no curtain blocking the line it would have been an 80 foot cast. Success! 

He then looked at me wide-eyed and asked what fly line was he casting. (This was the segue to an equipment fix.) The line was a 7-weight floating line from Sunray Fly Fish, specifically their Proline Floating Line- the following is from their website: “Sunray invented Micro Thin Fly Lines. Micro Thin fly lines are 20-30% thinner than regular PVC or Polyurethane fly lines. They cut through wind, cast further, land more gently and land more fish.”)

Here’s the link: Fly Lines | Floating Fly Lines | Sinking Fly Lines | Thin Fly Lines - Sunray Fly Fish

You should visit their website, it’s absolutely loaded with good stuff. So, with three casting technique changes, coupled with a Sunray fly line recommendation, this gentleman was on his way to a more productive fishing season. Several days later I received an email from him telling me he ordered the line and thanking me again.

I love it when we find the keys to success!

Sunray now has added a couple of relatively new fly lines to their inventory, specifically their “Short Head” series (another link follows): Floating Fly Line for Distance - Sunray Short Head Fly Line - Sunray Fly Fish.

These lines have a red “overhang marker” designed to help you load the rod more efficiently, and they are currently priced at $38 a copy, compare that against the competition! The only draw-back is that delivery time is SLOW (one month) given the United Kingdom's postal service, (you thought ours was bad!).

My 7 and 8 weight lines just arrived yesterday, I can't wait to spool them up.

Westport Fly Saltwater Guide Service

"Fish Camp"

Westport Fly Saltwater Guide Service is a team of USCG licensed captains providing guided saltwater fly fishing and light tackle fishing trips.

They launch out of Westport, MA to fish for Striped Bass, Bluefish, Bonito, and False Albacore, depending on the time of the year.

Their local fishing areas are the Westport River, Buzzard’s Bay, Sakonnet River, Cuttyhunk and the Elizabeth Islands.

Good friends, Captains Parker Mauck and Chris Killenberg have developed Westport Fish Camps, a two session, multi-day “fishing immersion” experience to be held in the surrounding waters of Westport Harbor.

Fish Camps are scheduled for May and June during prime 2023 tides.

Parker and Chris invited me to join them as one of their three "Guest Guides" for their June camp that runs June 13-15.

Included are photos of the program details/ itineraries.

Contact me directly, or Captain Mauck at (508) 496-8682, or [email protected] with questions, or to reserve one or several of the limited spots. This will be a blast!

We hope to see you there!

Parker, Chris and Jim

Mako & Lund Boat Security

You might not think so but Newport has a crime problem and we have to be careful and protective of our cars and boats. A couple years ago someone climbed aboard my Mako at night, which was parked in the driveway, and attempted to steal my chartplotter and vhf radio. Both were locked however and I found the locked brackets had been partially unscrewed, but the units were still on the dash and thankfully, undamaged… Junkies at work no doubt!

Solution, I installed several security cameras that communicate with my iPhone so I get alerts when there is movement in the yard, plus I also hired several wolfies from Montana that patrol the property and keep a sharp eye on everything! Click on the photo or the link below.


The Tying Vise

aka "Everything That's Fit To Be Tied"

Cinder Worm with a stinger hook in the rear for those short strikes- Surprise!

A variety of Cinder Worm patterns. I will split the contents of this box into three smaller boxes as backups.

Gartside Soft Hackle Streamer tied on a shank with a stinger hook for short hits- Smallmouth bass and Landlocked salmon pattern.

Click on above photo for

a short YouTube video

Cinder Worm using FNF Predator 9 material with a stacked deer hair head

During these “no fishing” days while the boats are wrapped for the winter, it’s time to look at the fly boxes and see what flies need to be thrown out due to being tattered and sometimes corroded from immersion in salt water, those requiring some degree of rehab for the coming season, and those that have gone missing and need to be replaced.

So, I’ve been busy, poking holes in my fingers, cutting my fingers with scissors and razor blades, straining my eyes to see the hooks, purchasing new materials and sorting through others, vacuuming the floor beneath the tying table of scrap materials, and searching for hooks that hit the floor and hopefully don’t show up in the dog’s paws.

I’ve also enjoyed some trial and error with “water tank testing” of several new patterns I'll use in both salt and fresh water.

Here are just a few lovelies and there's more coming in my next newsletter.

Murdich Minnow (freshwater hook for smallmouth bass)- Pattern can also be used in saltwater but using a stainless hook

Articulated Marabou Cinder Worm tied on two shanks for additional action

A trio of Murdich Minnows all gussied up for the dance

** Photo above is linked to a short YouTube video**

A trio of cinder worms, the top two are made from red dyed calf tail with stacked/trimmed deer hair heads, bottom pattern front body is FNF Predator 9 material and a stacked deer hair head.

Fly Casting Lessons

Prepare this early spring for the season ahead

It only stands to reason, that if you can REACH more fish, you can CATCH more fish. One might argue that this may not be the case when fishing in freshwater for trout or bass or northern pike, however when fly fishing in saltwater- the elements of distance, speed and accuracy of your casts will have a direct bearing on your catch rate. As a Fly Fishers International (FFI) Certified Fly Casting Instructor I can in short order significantly improve your fly casting abilities, enabling you to be more successful whether you are casting from shore or from a boat, in saltwater or fresh. 

I will conduct these lessons in Morton Park in Newport, RI. I also use top quality Sage, Temple Fork Outfitters, Edge, Lamson, Redington, and Orvis equipment (and yours if you would like). I may also relocate to a shallow body of water in order that you can experience the "loading" effect that water will have on your flyrod, and your casting techniques. I will show you casting techniques for fresh and saltwater. Lessons (and learning) are best if they are spread out over a couple of 2-hour sessions for the beginning caster. If you are more advanced, typically many casting faults can be cured in one 2-hour lesson.

FFI is the only organization with a certified fly casting instruction program. The Casting Instructor Certification Program began in 1992 for the purpose of enhancing the overall level of instruction in fly casting, including instructor knowledge, casting proficiency, and teaching ability. FFI certified instructors are nationally recognized as highly competent instructors.

In 2009 I attended the LLBean FFI Casting Instructor Preparation Workshop in Freeport, ME and had the pleasure of being instructed by Rod McGarry and Macauley Lord, both FFI Master Fly Casting Instructors. Rod and Macauley are both recognized world-wide as being the best of the best in flycasting instruction. Following that workshop I studied under Rod McGarry to prepare for my Certified Casting Instructor written and practical exam.

In January of 2010 I was examined by Dr. Gordon (Gordy) Hill, also a Master Fly Casting Instructor and at the time, part of the FFI's Casting Board of Governors. 

Beginner Lessons will cover:

  • Rod, Reel, Line review & assembly
  • Pick Up and Laydown cast
  • Overhead cast
  • False Casting
  • Static Roll cast 
  • Loop control
  • Shooting line
  • Slipping line

Intermediate/ Advanced Lessons will cover the following casts:

  • Saltwater Quick
  • Single Haul
  • Double Haul
  • Off Shoulder
  • Dynamic Roll
  • Single Water Haul
  • Double Water Haul
  • Long-line Pickup
  • Casting with the Wind at your Back
  • Casting into the Wind
  • Belgian
  • Change of Direction
  • Extra High cast/ Wide loop and high trajectory
  • Barnegat Bay
  • Dapping


$70 per hour (minimum 2 hours) for up to 2 students

Group rates available

Location- Newport, RI

Fly Fishing Quote

"With a fly rod, anglers are not casting to a fish: rather a circle of dreams: ripples that spread into every aspect of their lives."

Fennel Hudson, Fly Fishing- Fennel's Journal- No. 5

I hope this newsletter was fun and perhaps contained information of interest to you, and again I welcome input for future topics you may be interested in knowing more about.

Sorry for any misspelled words and lousy sentence structure. I try!

Newsletters are produced whenever I can find the time. An archive of prior issues can be found on my website.
My best, and I hope to see you on the water.
Capt. Jim Barr
Skinny Water Charters
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