If you're like a lot of anglers that I have met over the
course of my fly fishing career you more or less stumbled
into the sport of fly fishing, and if you had some
experience fishing with bait or lures you have the benefit
of some knowledge about fish and the basics of angling.
However, if you are like many recent converts to the sport
you are completely in the dark about even the rudiments of
the game. There are no shortage of books, magazine articles,
schools, and seminars that offer to teach you what you need
to know, but where do you start, and what is important and
what is merely fluff? At risk of adding to the cacophony of
conflicting advice I would like to offer the following ideas
for your consideration. Since the advice is free and unsolicited
you may take it or leave it.
By Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
The acronym KISS quickly comes to mind. If you don't know what
that stands for perhaps it's just as well, but basically the
idea is simple is better. Most anglers, myself included, have
far too much stuff, and the more stuff you have the more
complicated everything becomes. A proliferation of stuff is often
the outgrowth of a belief that the person with the most toys wins!
Some of the worst fly fishers that I have ever witnessed had the
most stuff, and some of the best were the guys with the patched
waders, a couple boxes of flies, and equipment that went out of
style during the Great Depression. What they lacked in equipment
they more than compensated for with the application of skill and
Boxes full of flies may give you more choices, but the more
choices you have the more likely you are to spend most of
your time changing flies hoping to find the right pattern.
The angler that understands where they are fishing, what
types of naturals are likely to be present, and what patterns
best imitates those naturals may only have a few flies in
their box but lots of fish on their offerings.
While on the subject of flies, especially trout flies, my old
friend Vince Marinaro was a proponent of simple patterns. "I
am continually astonished," he wrote, "by the fact that the
most killing flies in fly-fishing history are of very simple
construction." You can read many articles about how to tie
flies that look like they will get up and fly away once they
are released from the vice, or patterns that require more
kinds of material to tie than are needed to make the Space
Shuttle. Every year there is a plethora of new patterns that
appear in the latest fly-fishing catalogue or in the bins of
your local fly shop, but most of those patterns will be
replaced by 'new and improved' versions the next year. It
would pay you to notice the patterns that are listed every
year, and to keep a ready supply of those in your fly box.
Fill in the rest of the slots with some of the newer stuff,
but I think at the end of the season the flies that will need
to be replaced because they have been chewed up by fish are the
simple patterns that have stood the test of time.
What can be said about flies can be echoed when talking about
equipment. Despite protests to the contrary the average trout
fisher does not need a fly reel with a complex drag system to
fight and land a trout. Basically the reel is a storage spool
for the fly line, and the fewer bells and whistles it has the
more likely it will be to perform that task without difficulty.
I still have an old Pflueger fly reel that is basically a spool
contained in a frame. It has a simple drag system controlled
by a small knob on the frame, is easily convertible to right
or left hand wind, and is virtually indestructible. I am quite
confident that I could, and I have, use it to fish for trout
on any trout stream, control the line, and do it as well as
ny modern marvel that costs 100 times as much.
All that I have said about flies and reels could be repeated
for rods, vests, fly boxes, and all the other ancillary
accouterments that we fly fishers find so compelling. Perhaps
it's pure nostalgia and the longing for times now long past,
but the best times I spent on a trout stream where spent when
I had one fly rod, a vest with fewer pockets than I have fingers,
a few simple flies, and a basic understanding of how it all worked.
There was a stream to wade, and trout to catch and what could be
better than that? ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
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