So What Went Wrong?
The weather was perfect, you were in the right place, at
the right time and you didn't catch anything.
You read all the articles on the nymphs, streamers,
wets and dries, watched the water, sky and bushes
for sign of insect activity, were careful wading, and not
one hit. You cast until you thought your arm
would fall off. So what went wrong?
In truth you probably did a lot of things
right! Remember, this is a journey, not a destination. The
learning experience in fly fishing is being able to put a lot
of things together in the right combination to have a fish
on your fly. The size or specie of the fish really doesn't
matter, if it's your fish. And the effort
to get there is worth it!
Here are some bits and pieces to
add to your collection. Approaching the water,
did you know where the fish should be? If so, did
you get into the water below their lie so not to give
away your presence by disturbing anything that would
float downstream? Did you actually see fish?
If the sun was behind you, the fish saw you before you
saw them. Some anglers who fish clear spring
creeks have been known to crawl to where they could
make a cast. I have. Stealth does count!
Presentation is a big subject. We
did a review on Gary Borgers wonderful book,
, which has tons of information on properly
presenting a fly. How you 'present' the fly is important
egardless of which type of fly you choose. Nymphs,
streams and wets usually need to 'swim' and can be fished
with or across the current - and at varying depths;
but can also be fished upstream.
Dry flies however cannot have
any line or leader pressure causing the fly to drag on the
water - which produces miniature wake patterns. Natural
insects don't produce wake.
How do you avoid drag? Not always
easy to do. It is called, "mending" the line.
Mending is done with nymphs and streamers for two reasons.
With flies that should sink, the idea is to get the fly to a
specific depth. With most nymphs that's very near or on
the bottom. Making a half roll cast when your fly is in the
water will allow the fly to sink deeper. The second reason
to mend line with wet flies is to get the fly back upstream
so you can fish through the same area again.
For dry flies, the mend is produced
using just the tip of your rod and your wrist
to keep the line and leader behind the fly. If the fly follows
the line and leader there is drag. My suggestion is the next
time you go out to fish, spend a few minutes practicing (there's
that word again) what we call line control. You need to be
able to produce a long drag-free float to have your fly be seen seen by the
most fish. Many seasoned anglers prefer a longer fly rod,
10 foot, in situations where they know they have
to mend line. The longer rod makes it easier to keep most
of your fly line off the water.
Watch your fly or leader to make
sure you know what the fly is doing.
Using dry flies with a light color face or parachute will
make it more visible until you get used to
knowing what to look for where.
Find a fishing hat with the underside
of the brim in a dark green or brown. It will reduce the glare
coming off the water, and make it easier to see your fly - and
the fish! While we are on headgear, do wear Polorized sun
glasses if at all possible. They make seeing into the water
easier, which could help you spot fish. More importantly,
they might keep you from tripping on
a deadhead or stepping into a hole.
Timing can be everything. A very old
saying is "10% of fisherman catch 90% of the fish." Chances
are those anglers are on the water early morning, maybe late
afternoon and the last two hours of twilight. Mid-day is not
as productive (unless it is overcast), but if it's mid-summer
that's a perfect time to try terrestrials. Take the time to sit
on the bank or log and watch. Be observant.
How many times did you check your
fly? If you were fishing wet, (nymphs, streamers or wet flies)
your hook can hit on stones, pebbles or rocks and damage the hook.
Bend it, mash it, dull it, and even break it off. Never happened
to me of course, but I hear there is nothing more embarrassing
then getting out of the water after several hours of fishing to find
out you have been fishing with a useless fly. (Even if no one
is looking.) It doesn't hurt to check. Other things can happen to
the fly too, like the leader wrapping around the fly or the hook,
especially when your cast turns out to be less than perfect. If the
fly doesn't present itself in a 'natural' way, the fish won't take it.
Sometimes you have to adjust the size
and heaviness of your fly to conditions. A very sparcely tied fly
barely shows up on fast or riffled water. Some flies, like the Sofa
Pillow and Royal Wulff were designed for such waters. It is not
always possible to exactly match the hatch. Try a variety of flies
and sizes in the color and form as close to what insect is there.
If that doesn't work, try an attractor pattern.
Finally, be patient. Savor the fact that
you are where you are. Seize the day. Savor the fact that you are
where you are, and have the priviledge to fly fish. Enjoy the journey.