03/24/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Little Brown Stoneflies
4.    Quill Gordons
5.    Blue Quills
6.    Little Black Caddis

The Basics of Fly Fishing Series - Choice Two

Choice one, the choice I wrote about yesterday, is the choice that ninety percent of
all anglers make. I'm getting back to the old adage that "ten percent of the
fisherman catch ninety percent of the fish". As I mentioned in an earlier article,
although the percentages may vary, the essence of the statement is true. There's
also a good reason for it. Ninety percent of all anglers rely on very little knowledge
and skill and a lot of luck. Although luck is always welcome, only a very small
percentage of anglers rely on their own knowledge and skill to catch fish.

Those anglers in the ninety percent group rely on trial and error methods of fishing.
The strategies they use are usually based on the advice of others. They are the
ones who always want to know what someone else did. They always make their
decisions on where, when and how to fish based on information they get from
others. They are well aware that they don't have the knowledge or skill they need to
be confident in their own decisions. When they can get a good report from others,
even though it probably involved completely different circumstances, their hopes will
begin to build and in some cases they may even get all fired up about the hot
information they think they've discovered. If they hear that Joe Blow caught twenty
fish in Crooked Creek last week on a Purple Wing Quill, that's where they want to go
and that's the fly they want to use.

I could go on and on describing the various ways most anglers go about trying to
decide where, when and how to fish but the bottom line to it all is they are basically
copy cats. They try to copy or duplicate what someone else did. They will base their
complete strategy of when, where and how to fish on information they obtain from
their buddies, a total stranger, a fly shop salesman that hasn't been fishing in a
month, what they read on the web or in a magazine, or anything else they can find.
The reason for this is simple.
They don't have enough knowledge about the
fish they are pursuing and the water they plan on fishing to be confident in
their own decisions about when, where and how to fish.
They seek others to
"guide" them in the right direction.

The lack of knowledge shows up even more when the mediocre angler actually
begins to fish. They use the trail and error method for everything they chose to do
right down to the flies they chose to fish with. They will open their boxes of hundreds
of different flies and select one preferably based on what someone told them to fish,
but otherwise, they will select their favorite fly - the one that worked before. Isn't it
amazing how often the fly that worked before turns out to be the same fly that was
used before? If that fly doesn't work, they will try another one. They usually don't
have the slightest idea of what the trout are most likely eating or what's most
available and easy for them to acquire. They know little, if anything, about the very
thing they are attempting to imitate with the fly.

I always get a kick out of the advice that some of those that proclaim to be
knowledgeable about fly fishing hand out day in and day out. My favorite advice that
I see often is "I would use a dry fly but if it didn't work, I would go to a nymph". They
usually explain that the trout may not be taking a dry fly very well. Now that's some
great advice. In other words, you should either fish on top of the water, or below it.
By the way, the same great teacher would proclaim that if this strategy didn't work,
the "fishing would be bad or slow". This provides a very soothing justification for the
mediocre angler. It's much easier to get over the disappointment from your lack of
success if your dumb enough to believe that the "fishing is bad or slow" and the
poor results had nothing to do with your lack of knowledge and skill.

Choice number two is for one to learn all about the fish and the food they rely on
to survive. The more you know about the trout, the water they live in and the food
they eat, the easier it is for you to fool them into taking your fly. If you'll excuse my
blunt way of putting it,
catching trout on the fly is much easier if you know
what the you're doing
.

Relying on others for information, and choosing strategies, methods of fishing and
flies at random is about as wise as copying someone's tax return. You will never see
a good, truly professional angler copy anyone, regardless of the species of fish
involved. Just the essence of trying to copy anything someone else did is evidence
that you don't know what your doing.

This is a "Basics of Fly Fishing" series. More specifically, It's intended to be the
basics of fly fishing the streams of the Smokies. As you know, everyone has to learn
the basics of anything they pursue before they proceed into the advanced stages. If
you're a beginner, or are just getting started fly fishing for trout, you don't have to
make your mind up as to which type of angler you want to become at this point in
the learning process. I just want to make sure everyone knows the difference so
they can determine for themselves how they want to approach the sport There's
absolutely nothing wrong with what I refer to as choice one. First and foremost, fly
fishing should be fun and enjoyable. Catching trout on the fly can be very enjoyable
for most people, even when it's all pure luck and even when there's little or no skill
or knowledge involved. I just want to point out the difference in anglers and the
choices you have. Many anglers are not really aware of the difference. The type of
angler you become is up to you.

Tomorrow, I will get back into the basics, starting with the thing that, although it
shouldn't, seems to have a tendency to intimidate many beginners - Casting.


2011 James Marsh