12/30/10 – One of the great things about fly-fishing is the simplicity of it. All you need is a rod and reel setup and a fly – even a gaudy one like the Royal Wulff – and if the water isn’t barren – sooner or later you’ll probably catch a fish. That’s all it takes to get started – I know it will work because that’s what I used when I started. No waders, no vest, no floatant, level mono for a leader and worst of all no knowledge. I mean I knew fish swam and I knew they would take a fly but I was strictly chuck and chance it when I started.
As time went on I realized there was more to it than just throwing a fly out there and I started watching other fly-fisherman. Especially those others who were catching fish. That’s when I began to understand another great thing about fly-fishing. What I realized was that one of the great things about fly fishing is that you can never learn it all. The more I watched and the more I read the more I knew that if I wanted to catch fish my chances would be better if I understood things like where fish hold, what fish feed on and what temperatures they like.
Then came the bugs. I found I had to know the difference between a Mayfly and a Caddis. And it didn’t stop there I had to learn Stoneflies and all those other bugs in the water and then I found out I had to watch for terrestrials like Ants and Grasshoppers – I was scared. It was all too much how would I ever learn it all. I almost quit and had thoughts about taking up golf. The only thing that saved me from that was I realized golf was the same kind of sport. Golf is also as simple or complex as you want to make it. I already had a fly rod so I decided to stick with it and keep on throwing my Royal Wulff and many years later I’m still at it. If anything I enjoy fly-fishing more now than I did then and I’m still learning. I studied bugs a lot. That to me was the key. If I could only learn more about the bugs I’d have it made or at least that was what I thought.
Then I read a book by Tom Rosenbauer called Prospecting for Trout and my whole focus changed. Tom’s book reminded me it was trout I wanted – not bugs. His focus was trout and their feeding behavior in different kinds of water. He actually hinted that it was more important to understand trout behavior than it was to select the “right” fly. He more than hinted it. More than once in the book he came right out and said it. Then I got a copy of “The Trout and the Stream” by Charles E. Brooks and he said things like “One of the first things as angler should learn is where small fish are, so that he can avoid fishing such areas.” Imagine that.
So while I enjoy bugs and watching hatches I definitely consider it more important to know that the most common feeding motion for a trout is to rise from behind a rock or out of a depression to a drifting bit of food. After taking that bit of food the fish most often returns to the same spot and repeats the process. They do that more often than moving side to side or nosing down into the gravel. How do I know that – well a guy named Bob Bachman spent 3,000 hours in a tower watching trout feed day in and day out and he said so – I believed him. I also know that biologists have determined that Brown Trout and Brookies prefer to lie in water moving about a half-foot a second but that when they feed they like the water speeds closer to two-feet per second. Rainbows like an even faster feeding flow and look for feeding lies with current speeds up to six-feet per second. Oh, there’s just so much to learn yet all you need to do is tie on a fly and keep on casting and sooner or later you’ll catch a fish. It’s really that simple.