This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

February 18th, 2002


The wonder of it all.

No matter how much you think you know about fly fishing there will always remain a very large segment of total ignorance.

My husband JC and I have fly fished for trout, salmon, bass (me) bonefish, marlin, jack crevalle, and even snapper mullet and dorado - but I don't have a clue about a huge number of fisheries. Next week we will have a fly for the folks wanting to catch the green devils (pickerel). One of our Chat Room men is going to Mexico for marlin. Another is headed for South America for Peacock Bass and a lot of fish I can't spell or pronounce. A dear friend, a Northcountry Brit, is a fine soft hackle tier and trout fisher - his passion is carp. And on it goes.

There have been some comments on why on earth anyone would want to cast a whole fly line on the Bulletin Board. Well, it's an absolute necessity here in the Pacific Northwest for salmon off our beaches, the folks fishing for stripers on the east coast will agree. Fishing the Caribbean for bonefish also requires long-line, accurate casting. If I had not needed it to catch fish, I would probably still own only light rods and not know how much easier learning how to double haul would make my fishing. The big argument seems to center on "you can't hook a fish at that distance."

If one is lifting the tip of their rod to set the hook that's probably true. But for every problem there is an answer. In this case it is called 'line striking.' You strip the line, control the retrieve with your line hand. You also set the hook with your line hand. Pretty simple when you know how.

Fishing bigger rods and reels is another wonderment. A real learning experience. For many, their education falls into catching their first tough fish. A salmon can do that, so can a big trout, or a bonefish which strips all the line and backing off your reel. About the time your arbor is really visible you start worrying about how good your knots are. I'm not even going there. One of the finest fly anglers I know lost a very big bonefish and his whole fly line in the Florida Keys. His backing to fly line knot failed. I will mention it was a nail knot. We don't use it. It will only fail on big fish. Duh.

What rod for which purpose? Is one better than another? Why? If you have the rod weight figured out, what length should it be? Which fly line? For what use? Do you have any idea how many are on the market? And reels?

Living on the Washington coast we have another wonderment. Tide. There are a couple of places in the world where the tide is more extreme than it is here, but our daily tide can vary as much as 13 feet. Fish behave differently on an incoming, out-going or slack tide. Since the tide doesn't change at the same time every day, you get to learn about tide clocks and tide tables. Ah, but that's not the end of it. Depending on the phase of the moon, the tide can be very fast, 'ripping' or very modest. It still changes, but not as abruptly. Our rule of thumb is an hour before and a hour after the tide should be the best fishing. Another friend says the tide doesn't matter, you just have to be there at first light.

On the other hand, some of our best fishing has been just at dark. I suppose that depended on where the tide was at that moment too.

We don't fish insects here on the salt. The flies are imitations of bait. But, the bait in the spring is smaller and sometimes colored differently than the same bait a month later. For sure much different is size from spring to fall. Tie more flies.

There are all the insects. Who hatches when, where and at what phase of their development do they become the best trout food? Which nymphs? Clingers, swimmers, netters, crawlers? Some believe when the adult insect lays its eggs is the best fishing. But some oviposit, some dive beneath the water, others broadcast their eggs over the water.

If a stream, lake or river has more than one kind of game fish, which do you fish for? Does it matter? Or do you target a specific individual fish?

Do you tie your own flies? Is that better than buying ones some fly designer thought up? What waters were his flies intended for? Is yours different? What color are yours? How many flies should you take? What do you do if there isn't any hatch? Or nymphs? Hmmmm.

Isn't it neat? There is just so much to learn, it is a wonderment!

I love fly fishing. ~ LadyFisher

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