Richard Strolis

Years Fishing?

I have been fishing for 38 years.  Yeah you read that correctly, I am actually 43.  33 of that with a fly rod. 

Years Guiding?

So, I guided for approximately 12 years on the Farmington and Housatonic rivers in Connecticut with some minimal amounts of guiding in several of the rivers in western Massachusetts as well.  I have primarily been designing flies for the Montana Fly Company as well as doing custom commercial fly tying now for the past 7 years.  I plan on guiding again full time in the spring of 2020.

Who introduced you to fly fishing?

Honestly it was a path I chose on my own. My grandmother started taking me fishing with conventional tackle at an early age and I always had a fascination with my fathers old fiberglass flyrod hanging up in his workshop. In time my constant inquiring about it led to me getting my own set up at the age of 10. My dad gave me a crash course lesson on casting in the back yard and the rest is history.

Can you tell us a little about your home waters and the fish you pursue there?

My background is very trout oriented and so are the waters that I easily frequent. On any given day I can be picking apart a nice riffle or pocket water with a variety of nymphs or streamers, or working a softer edge for a rising fish. My home trout waters are predominantly inhabited by both stocked and wild brown trout, rainbows and brookies. But, being in southern New England I fish a very vast array of species and environs. In an hours drive I can be on the coast chasing stripers, bluefish and false albacore in the fall; to chasing river smallmouth and northern pike to all those lovely trout I just mentioned. I am pretty spoiled to say the least and I am only scratching the surface with the river options.

What's the height of the season for you? What time of year is your personal favorite?

I really look forward to the start of summer, June into July. I know it sounds odd, but my homewater the Farmington is a tailwater fishery and it really comes into it’s own during that time of year. You can really pick your poison; the days are longer, the hatches are bountiful and the trouts metabolism is in high gear so the fishing can be red hot. Any method will work, you just pick your window of time, the method you want to fish and you’re bound to do well. And even though the air temps are hot, the water is typically in the 50’s so its plenty refreshing. Plus, at that time of year, pretty much all other fishing is in high gear so the options are varied.

What are your favorite travel destinations? What's on the bucket list?

Boy, that’s really a tough question as I have had the privilege to fish in so many wonderful places over the past 25 years. The Yukon River drainage for northern pike will always hold a spot in my heart, as will the Alaskan Interior for char and rainbows. Montana, Wyoming and Colorado have provided many memorable experiences for trout with the spectacular scenery and awesome fish. My bucket list is pretty big, theres still a lot to do. Chile for monster brown trout is right up there, and something that is coming to fruition in 2018 so that will get checked off in short order. Golden Dorado, GT’s, Rooster fish, Tiger fish and Taimen round out the next five; hopefully those trips materialize at some point.

What do you like most about Thomas and Thomas rods? Which rods do you fish?

What I like most about Thomas and Thomas rods is really a two part answer. The biggest thing for me is they are manufactured in the United States, and not to far from where I grew up as a kid. Knowing that what I am fishing with was literally put together from top to bottom not to far from where I reside is very satisfying. What I also like about Thomas and Thomas is their unwavering commitment to the angler, as they will not only continue to push the envelope of design but construct very species specific gear to accommodate the anglers needs. Nobody else out there does this, and that is very appealing to me as I love to explore and chase a wide variety of species. Currently I am fishing several of the rods in the Exocett series, especially the SS 250 and 350, The 10 foot 8 inch Contact Nymph rods for trout as well the 10 foot 4 weight Avantt. I plan on expanding my library of rods as time goes, with emphasis on the DNA spey series, the Lotic and Aeros to cover the many other types of places and species I target.

What's your current go-to fly?

Well, being a guide at one time, and a guy who not only designs flies but fishes for all kinds of different fish, I have go to patterns that are species specific. Nymphs for trout I’d pick my DDT nymph for its ease of tying and versatility, for a streamer it would be my Headbanger Sculpin, for Stripers, albacore and blue fish it would be the Silly Rabbit and for Pike the Chinese Dragon. Sorry but I can’t pick just one.

Other than fly tackle, what piece of gear do you find indispensable?

Hands down my Patagonia waterproof slingpack. Even if I fall in, which happens often, my flies and gear stay dry.

My favorite thing about guiding is:

Living vicariously through my clients. It is so rewarding teaching people something new to them, or being there netting that fish of a lifetime, first fish or that hard earned fish. Being a guide you often get to experience some very memorable moments with your customers, and to me that never gets old.

From the angler’s point of view, what do you see as the main value of going on a guided trip?

I personally think the intimate knowledge of a fishery that a guide can offer is something you just cant put a price tag on, especially when you are going to a destination for the first time. The learning curve can drastically be reduced.

What can new fisherman expect to get out of a guided trip? My favorite thing to teach a client is?

New fisherman can expect to learn the finer points of specific techniques from a guided trip. For new anglers the minutia can make the difference in a successful or long day and a good guide will quickly fine tune your presentations so that you will have an enjoyable outing. A new fisherman should be able to walk away from a solid guide trip with the skills to go out on their own and employ the techniques that they have been taught. My favorite thing to teach a client is simply how to read the water to better understand how to locate fish more regularly.

What's your ideal lunch when on the water? What do you actually pack?

I enjoy cooking, so my idea of an ideal lunch on the water will usually involve my portable webber grille or my jetboil stove. If the weather is nice, I like to roll dry rubbed rib eye steak with some fresh picked asparagus, but if its cold I lean towards chili’s or hearty stews. When I am guiding you could potentially get any of those for lunch if you’re one of my frequent flyers, or a solid deli style sandwich with some homemade cookies.

What fly fishing blogs/magazines do you read regularly?

To be entirely honest, I don’t read the heavy hitter magazines anymore. Now a days I am more fascinated with some of the online magazines like Catch, and Southern Culture on the Fly. If it has some solid photographs and a good story line you’ll grab my attention

When I'm not fishing you'll find me:

Entertaining my two daughters with my wife, tying flies, working out and enjoying a good craft beer.

  • Richard Strolis Thomas & Thomas advisor catches a beautiful brown with streamer.