If you think of Ray Bergman, Art Flick, Eric Leiser, Ernie Schwiebert, Al Caucci, Doug Swisher and Carl Richards among others, you’ll come to the conclusion that many freshwater fly-rodders are incredibly focused, observant and precise. Their precision comes from their careful and thorough study of their total environment as well as their sensitivity to how it all interacts. Kenney Abrames brings that same level of intensity to the Northeast salt.
I remember fishing a flat with Abrames near my home many years ago. There was a sand spit that turned into a cobble bar that dropped off into a channel. Lots of seals lazed in the hot sun, and when they moved, their blubber resembled a bowl of Jello. If you think cormorant scat baking in the sun smells rank, try sniffing the remains of a seal’s striped bass lunch. I endured the aroma only because there were thousands of bass concentrated between the seals and Abrames and me.
Abrames studied the bass for a while before approaching. He saw how the current was interacting with the wind and how they both matched up with the different depths and structure. The sun was bright overhead, and when the tide started to flood he stealthily waded up with enthusiasm.
With a characteristically smooth, rhythmic cast, Abrames worked out line on a slow-action 10½-foot rod that he’d designed and manufactured himself. He set the head down on the water and waited until the fish caught the current, and with one false cast, he dumped the entire line, stripped in the slack, and began his retrieve.
The fly, his L&L Special, was about 7 or 8 inches long. It undulated in the current and a good bass turned. It swam up leisurely to the fly, opened its mouth and sucked it in. It was a perfect fish, a 30-some-inch flats bass that weighed 14 pounds.
Abrames continued to hook a fish on each of his next casts for about 45 minutes until a cloud moved in front of the sun. On that next cast, he did not catch a fish and immediately changed flies. The catching resumed and Abrames hammered fish until the cloud disappeared. On his first cast without a hookup, he changed flies again, and his numbers continued to rise until the tide forced us to retreat to my boat. I added an L&L Special, a Bullraker and a Sure Thing to my fly box after that trip.
Fly-rodders who double as bird hunters love catching fish on flies they tied with feathers from birds they harvested. I would imagine Abrames experiences a similar gratification from catching a fish on a rod he designed on a fly he created tied from feathers he helped develop that he dyed to perfection.