Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
June 4th, 2001

So You Say You Want To Be Chironomid Fisherman?

By Willie Toth, Port Orchard, WA

Can you stare at a small Fluorescent pink, orange, or chartreuse dot on the wall until drool is running out of the corner of your mouth and soaking your shoelaces? Well, my friend you have a chance and the makings of a GREAT Chironomid fisherman, or a term I use for myself, "Chird" fisherman.

I have been fly fishing for almost 20 years, with the exception of the time I spent on the ocean "Fishing For Dollars" and it never ceases to amaze me how many different ways there are to catch a trout. More then once I wanted to resort to the age old custom of the quarter stick of dynamite method, as fish are jumping all over and you couldn't buy one with a brand new visa card!

Most of my time fly fishing has been spent under the sunny skies of the Central California Coast, San Luis Obispo to be specific, so the availability of a good trout stream or lake was several hours drive north, east or a combination there of, leaving me no other source then to hone my fishing skills at my local lake for whatever it had to offer up. Spring was Red Eared Perch, Small and Large Mouthed Bass, and Crappie. Winter was "Put and Takes" those cleaver and oh so feisty 6 to 10 inch fish and game plants. Ok, I lied about the cleaver and feisty part. Then a little over a year ago I moved to the ever-beautiful state of Washington where fly fishing dreams all come true! Finally instead of watching a video and dreaming that it was me at the south end of a north bound trout for this refugee left over from the 60s, it was now a reality and I was going to make the best of it! Little did I know what was about to take place would change everything I ever thought I knew about fly fishing, it was like Dorothy landing in OZ, only this boy would never want to go home again!

The lake I fished in California, I had down to one fly. I knew where the fish would be and how to fish them and had some local notoriety as a good fisherman. The local fly shop would give people my number to field questions about fishing the area, making me feel as if I was on the apex of my game! Things changed with my move, I have spent the last year learning how to fish all over again! The one thing I noticed was that the flies and fishing method that worked so well all those years were now being very unproductive. The guys catching consistently the largest fish were not wearing their knees out kicking around a lake all day, but were anchored up staring at a strike indicator. Rocket science being what it is, it took only a few weeks to know it was time to make a change; like when I went from listening to music such as "Bubba's got a brand new bag" to Mozart and Beethoven! The questions started and after some time I found someone who was willing to give me more than evasive answers, his words hit me like a ton of bricks, "the only thing I had to change was everything!"

He gave me a little orange ball of my very own to stare at and a strange looking fly on a #10 hook to tie on the end of 20 feet of 4 pound fluorocarbon leader. His instructions were simple, "stare at the strike indicator and when you see it move set the hook and hold on tight!" As I look back on it now I wish it had been that easy, but like all good things it takes practice.

I spent the next month asking questions at fly shops, finding any and all printed material I could on this Chironomid beast, last but not least looking for effective patterns. I found there was little to no information, which was surprising being that the Chironomid accounts for a minimum of 70% of a Trout's diet. I did find however, that out of the thousands of dollars in tying materials I owned, I had very few of the materials needed to tie this elusive fly. I later found on my first trip to British Columbia, the land where the Chird Fisherman is King, there are about 3,000 ways to skin this cat, also finding, my purchase of fly tying materials was about to increase tenfold.

It has been a year almost to the day that I have been introduced to the Fluorescent ball floating innocently on the surface of the water. There have been 3 trips to BC and countless hours staring at said ball. There has been days of broken leaders and tangled lines, days of fish on and days of no fish at all, days were I had stared so long and so hard when I came off the water I could barely put two words together and thank God that my name was on my drivers license so I knew who I was. But it's a "Chird" fisherman I am and will forever strive to be and for that, may God have mercy on my soul! ~ Willie

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