09/13/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives (See Below)
2.    Mahogany Duns
3.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
4.    Slate Drakes
5.    Needle Stoneflies
6.    Little Yellow Quills
7.    Ants
8.    Inchworms
9.    Beetles
10.  Grasshoppers
11.  Hellgrammite
12.  Craneflies
13.  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)

Fishing the Odds

I have written about this same thing at least once or twice before but I will do so
again because there's not a day that goes by without I hear someone say or see
comments on fly fishing blogs that indicate many anglers don't get the point I will try
to make. This was pounded in my brain many years ago in engineering school. I
think it was a course in statical mathematics but I could be wrong. To give you an
idea of how long ago that was, I'll give you a big hint. We used slide rules.

You may try this at home. Take a coin and flip it 100 times. How many times will it
hit on heads? Most people would say 50. I tried it this morning and it hit on heads
67 times and tails, 33 times. I remember doing this sometimes back and it only hit on
heads (or tails I can't remember which) 25 times out of a hundred. If you flip the coin
only 10 times, it may well hit 7 or 8 on either one of the other. That's just about as
likely as it hitting on either heads or tails 5 times.

Now the point is, that if you should care to flip the coin 1000 times, it will get closer
to 50% tails and 50% heads. If you flipped it a million times, it would probably be
right on 50 - 50. Someone may have to correct me on the exact figures but I think
you get the point.

Put in layman terms, the bottom line is 10 isn't enough of anything to get an idea
about anything.

If you should catch 10 trout today fishing an Olive Hairwing Fly and in the same
amount of fishing time, catch only 2 trout on a Pink Got Ya fly, it doesn't prove
anything. It does not mean that the Hairwing Fly is a better fly. You may well do just  
the opposite of that tomorrow. In the fishing case, the numbers are even more
meaningless than they are in the coin case. There are few, if any, variables in
flipping the coin. There are many variables in the fishing case. First of all, you would
be fishing the flies at two different times of the day and in different water, I would
hope. If not, it wouldn't be fair to the fly you fished the second time around if you
fished it in the same water. It may be cloudy one time and clear the other time. I
could give dozens of variables.

How many times have you heard that the trout "were hitting such and such" today. I
see and hear it every day. The "brown stripped midge" worked much better than the
"gray stripped midge", etc.

To begin with, trout don't feed on hair and feathers. They think (think isn't a good
word) - they take the hair and feathers to be something to eat. It would be far more
accurate to say the trout were eating a certain insect today, if that was the case,
than to say the trout were eating such and such fly.

What's the point? If you are fishing "X" fly because Joe Blow said he caught 10 trout
on it, you are using a very poor strategy. You may well catch 20 on a "Y" fly.
Although "What fly did you use?" is the most frequently asked question in
fly fishing, it is also the stupidest question anyone could ask.
I'll have to
admit that I have asked the question before I thought, so this isn't to knock anyone.
It's just to try to make you think.  

By the way, the reason Joe Blow caught a lot of trout on a certain fly, has a lot to do
with the fact that
it was the fly he was using. No wonder he caught so many on
that fly. That was the fly he used.

It's very common to hear anglers fishing a local bass tournament say, for example,
"they are catching them on a shad color deep diving crank bait".  If you drove
around the lake and ask everyone what lure they were fishing, can you guess which
lure would be named most often? You guessed it. The shad color deep diving crank
bait. No wonder that's what they are catching them on. That's what they are fishing.

Copyright 2010 James Marsh