9/05/09

Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Mahogany Duns
3.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
4.   Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
5.   Slate Drakes - hatching
6.   Cream Cahills - hatching in Isolated locations
7.   Little Yellow Quills
8.   Needle Stoneflies
9.   Beetles
10. Grasshoppers
11. Ants
12. Inch Worms
13. Crane Flies
14. Helligramite
15. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

The Learning Process - Part 43
I am going back to the beginning in this one. I have skipped over many things in the
learning curve that was very important. When we first started fly fishing for trout,
naturally one of the first things we started asking about, reading about, looking at
etc., etc., were the trout flies. Unlike many others who were starting out, I didn't
have to really start from scratch. I had been using fishing lures, bream bugs and
poppers, jigs (which are flies) and other artificial fish bait imitations of all types since
I was a kid. I hadn't just used them like the ordinary angler that fishes on weekends.
I had done the weekend and vacation thing since I was a kid, but from 1980 until
1997, I had used artificials extensively because fishing had been my livelihood for
all those years. (Now the total is 29 years and I must be getting past middle age)  I
had fished the professional BASS circuit for four years; produced and hosted a TV
series on saltwater fishing (the first ever) for four years; produced over fifty
instructional fishing videos from 1985 to 1997; and fished several saltwater
tournaments series for several years before I started fly fishing for trout. I had been
concerned with fooling fish with artificial fish foods my entire life.

I had spent considerable time and fished many days with some great lure designers
such as Tom Mann, who founded Mann's Bait Company (the Jelly Worm, Little
George, etc.), Southern Plastics Co. and Humminbird Electronics. He was a close
friend for many years. Over a billion of his lures has been sold. Frank Johnson,
owner of Moldcraft Lures (Softheads) the largest big game fishing lure company in
the World, has been a very close friend and sponsor for almost thirty years. We
have fished together, made videos and focused on making better marlin lures for
many years. He is a true genius that taught me more about fishing than any one
other person. He arranged fishing trips for me with the top professional people from
all over the Eastern Hemisphere.

By now I am sure many of you wonder what this has to do with trout fishing and the
quick answer is that is, it has a lot to do with it. I have know for years that the way
you catch any species of fish on any artificial lure or fly, is to fool the fish into
thinking its the real thing. Basically, it the fish can see the lure or fly too well, they
will detect the difference. If they don't see it at all, of course it is worthless. The key
is for them to
only see it well enough to be fooled into taking it for the real
thing
its suppose to imitate. A fly tied for catching a trout is no different.

I ran into the same thing with trout anglers as I had run into with bass anglers,
walleye, crappie and other freshwater guys and saltwater anglers  wherever I
fished. This included 49 states and several countries. Fly fishing for trout was no
different. This guy would tell us that such and such is the fly or lure, or that these
fish prefer such and such fly. When we first started coming to the Smokies, we
would hear that all we needed was a Parachute Adams or a Hair's Ear Nymph
(which is a great quick start but first grade advice). One guy in Townsend pulled out
a box of Berkely baits (I think they were) that appeared to look like moth grubs or
inch worms. He showed me a large brown trout on his wall and said "this is all you
ever need". Hes still in Kinder Garden but at the same time, theres a lot of truth in
what he said.  A well know Smoky Mountain guide told me just four years ago that
the fly made no difference - that he could tie on a different fly and the trout would
hit his split shot. He turned red when I asked him why he ever used anything else
but split shot for his fly.

I didn't have to go though part of the learning process. I knew better and I knew
after seeing thousands of trout flies there was a little more to it than that. I also
knew that any one fly of everything anyone showed me would work at times. I even
knew that some would work well at times. I also knew the fly, like any other artificial
lure in the world, was only a part of the overall equation. I would just act nice and
listen. Heck, I was having a difficult time hiding from the trout. I didn't need the same
old lip I had heard all my life about flies. The same stories that I had heard about
every other fish catching artificial imitator made by man.

It took me less than a day to figure out that if I took a certain fly and threw it into fast
moving water, that every once in a while a trout would grab it. I could throw the
same fly in a pool with slow moving water and it would be ignored. I could hide and
see the trout move out of its way if I could get it close to one. Wasn't much different
than a redfish in a moving current caused by tide, or one resting in a slack tide. It
wasn't really any different than a dolphin feeding in a rip current that grabbed a lure
versus one that came up in slick, smooth seas, looked at the lure and disappeared
into the blue water. I had gone though refusals from 500 pound blue marlin worth a
$100,000 in a Calcuta. I knew without asking any trout guy that the difference in the
trout in the riffle that ate my fly, and the one in the pool that didn't, was the fact that
the one in the riffle got just enough of a glimpse of the fly to think it was an insect
(something it was used to eating) and those in the pool could see very well my fly
wasn't what they were used to eating.

I guess this sounds like I am trying to be a little cocky, but I was thirty light years
ahead of many anglers that had been fishing for trout in more way than they could
even imagine. Most anglers were standing in a parking lot casting a $700.00 fly rod,
worrying about whether or not their amber Action Optics sunglasses were better
than their Costa Del Mar pair before they knew what a mayfly spinner was

(Continued)

Copyright 2009 James Marsh