06/15/09

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Cinnamon Caddis - Mostly Abrams Creek
3    Light Cahills - hatching
4.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
5.   Little Short-horned Sedges - should hatch randomly for 2-3 months
6.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish
7.   Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
8. Green Sedges - hatching
9. Little Sister Caddisflies - Mostly Abrams Creek
10. Eastern Pale Evening Duns - (called Sulfurs by some)
11. Sulphurs - hatching in isolated areas
12. Golden Stonefly - hatching
13. Little Green Stonefly - hatching
14. Slate Drakes - hatching
15. Beetles
16. Grasshoppers

The Learning Process - Part 2

It is always interesting to me that some guys are very quick to state that the fly
really isn't all that important, yet when the same guys go fishing, they change from
one fly to another throughout the day trying to find the magic one. If they really
believed what they are always mouthing off about, why would they ever change
flies? Why wouldn't they just always use the same one? Why would they waste time
changing flies if it is really not that important which fly you use?

Last year, I had a guy that calls himself a guide, tell me that every time he added
this or that to the flies he tied to try to make them look more appealing, he found
out it was a waste of time. He continued to elaborate on that by saying that when he
did,  he would discover the trout would hit the lead weight on the leader and ignore
the fly. He was trying to stress his opinion about just how unimportant the fly is. In
response, I asked him why he didn't just clamp a spit shot over the shank of a hook
and fish with lead weight. He proceeded to change the subject. I kept on at him,
saying things like "since one of the great advantage of hiring you as a guide is that
you furnish all the flies for your clients, wouldn't that save you a lot of money"?

You will hear it over and over from some guys that the fly is not important. They are
always the same guys that will also tell you that being familiar with the aquatic
insects isn't important. If you will notice, they are also, always the same guys that
don't know one insect from another themselves. I guess is it is just their way of
trying to downplay the fact they can't recognise the various insects, determine what
the trout are eating, or much less match any of them with a fly. Notice I did not say
that it was just their excuse for their ignorance. I did not say that.

They will be quick to point out that they have been fly fishing for trout for fifty years
or so. They never say if that is once or twice a year. They never stop to think that is
a very long time to possible be doing some things wrong or less than the most
effective way to do them. They never stop to think that the only times they really
catch fish is when anyone could. If they don't succeed, they are always quick to
point out that the fishing wasn't good. Maybe the water was too high or low, or too
hot or cold; or the barometer was high or low; or a front was either coming or going;
or that they were fishing behind someone; or that the particular creek they choose
was getting in bad shape; or last years drought hurt the population; or that they
were fishing during a full moon; or heck, maybe even the cows were not standing
up.  

Some will say the fly isn't important and at least proceed to add that it is all in the
presentation. Often I will reply saying, "then why spend money on flies when you
could just attached a hunk of foam or a tie a feather to a hook and let that be your
fly". I may say "If you really believe that, why would you ever have or use more than
one kind of fly. Just buy some Royal Coachmans on sale at Ebay and use nothing
else from this day on". Before they stop and think about the stupid statement they
made, many of them will reply that they like "such and such" fly better than the
Royal Coachman. Knowing I have them right where I want them, I will respond
saying, "why do you prefer the such and such fly over the Royal Coachman? You
just got through saying "the fly one uses isn't important".  

Of course the fact is, if you fished only fast pocket water, it would be difficult to tie a
fly that you couldn't eventually catch a trout on. The question is, how often would
you catch trout and how many trout would you catch on it.

I learned that the fly can and does make a difference when I first started fly
fishing at about the age of twelve or fourteen.
I don't remember the exact age
for certain. I must have been too young to be much interested in girls. I know I was
too young to drive because my Dad would take me to this particular pond I dearly
loved every Saturday morning and drop me off for entire day. I didn't have any
books on fly fishing. There certainly were not any DVDs or videos. All I can
remember was my Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and Sports Afield magazines.
Jason Lucas and Jerry Gibbs were my favorite writer. That and my father and
grandfather were the only ones I had to learn from and that was not bad. They
knew how to catch fish.

In the little town I lived in, the only place that sold fly gear was the local Western
Auto store. I remember their fiberglass fly rods, level fly lines, popping bugs, foam
flies, and automatic fly reels. I managed to save enough money to buy that
automatic reel and fiberglass fly rod and a few flies and popping bugs. It wasn't very
easy to cast the level fly line. I'm not sure I knew there was such a thing as a
tapered fly line in those days. I remember thinking the manual operated fly reels
were the old out of date style and the automatic ones where the ones to have.

I would wade in shorts and tennis shoes and fish for bass with the popping bugs.
The lake was full of structure, logs, tree tops, bushes and grass. I remember this
particular grasshopper fly I bought at the Western Auto. I was excited about using it
but after fishing it for a short time, I didn't catch any bass or bream. Sitting down on
the dam looking around and thinking about hoppers, I decided to start fishing the
real things. I would catch a large grasshopper, put it on a plain hook with no weight
added and cast it on my fly rod. If I didn't manage to throw it off during the cast, the
hoppers would flutter on the surface trying to fly or get out of the water. Within a
short time a bass or a big bream would clobber it. I thought I was really on to
something at first. I finally got a cricket box that I could tie around my neck and keep
several grasshoppers above the water alive when I was wading around with the
cottonmouth snakes and red-winged black birds. Not one of my Western Auto
popping bugs or flies would work as good as the real live grasshoppers or crickets.
The problem was that I couldn't always find and catch enough hoppers, they were
difficult to cast without throwing them off, not easy to keep them alive and just a
hassle to fish with.

When I fished the poppers and flies, I remember trying to shake them with the tip of
my fly rod to try to make them act like the live ones trying to get off the water. It
seemed to help a lot. Then one day in the Western Auto store, the owner showed
me some new flies he just got in. They had foam bodies with rubber band legs. I
bought one or two and gave them a try. They worked much better. Each time you
moved the little fly an inch, its rubber legs would bend back. When you paused the
fly for a two or three seconds, the fly would jump forward on its on because the
rubber legs would straighten back out. They appeared to be alive. I know all of you
know exactly what I am talking about because the rubber legged flies sold today do
the same thing. They have a little extra movement or liveness to them than the flies
without rubber legs.

I began to use the rubber leg hoppers instead of the real grasshoppers which were
not ever easy to cast and keep alive on a hook. There was no question in my mind
that the rubber legs on the fly offered a big advantage. They made the fly look
more like the real hoppers looked in the water. They made the fly come alive. They
caught more fish than the legless flies.
I learned very early in my fishing
experience that the particular fly you used could make a big difference,
even when you are fishing for highly opportunistically feeding bass.  


Copyright James Marsh 2009