Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives (Little Eastern BWOs)
2. Little Sister Caddis (mostly Abrams Creek)
3. Cream Cahills
4. Little Yellow Stoneflies (Little Summer Stones)
5. Little Green Stoneflies
6. Slate Drakes
7. . Streamers (Sculpin, Minnows)
8. Inch Worms
What Fly To Use?
In my "Fly Fishing Strategies That Catch Trout" DVD, I use the following scenario to
try to get across the first and usually least important question anyone can ask another
angler prior to fishing.
How Fly-fishing Got Started:
Most likely, many, many years ago, some curious human being, probably a very hungry one, noticed
a trout approach the surface of the water and gulp down a fly. Undoubtedly, the idea hit he or she, to
catch a fly (maybe a grasshopper} put it on the end of something (who knows, the end of a small
vine attached to a stick), and then catch a trout. That person did just that and to their amazement, it
This is how fly-fishing started; but that is only the beginning of the story. Upon returning to the cave
with the trout, the person, no doubt was asked, first “how did you catch that ”, and after receiving that
bit of information, finally asked the question that they thought would uncover the secret to it all -
“what fly did you use to catch it on”?
We know this is how fly-fishing got started because nothing about it has changed. Until this day, the
first question the “knowledgeable” fly fisher is asked by other anglers is still the same one, “what fly
did you use”?
That thought hit me one day Angie and I visited "Russell Cave National Monument",
a neat place operated by the National Park Service. You have to be lost to find this
place. It's near Bridgeport, Alabama, near the Tennessee/Alabama state line a few
miles off the #72 highway that takes me the back way from Chattanooga, Tennessee
to Guntersville, Alabama to visit my mother.
A small stream flows out of the huge cave and on our first trip there, I noticed a fish
hitting something on the surface of the water. It wasn't a trout because, although the
water is cold coming out of the cave, to my knowledge, there aren't any trout in the
stream. I could just picture a prehistoric cave man fishing there, probably using a
grasshopper for bait. I could just see the man catching a trout, taking it inside to eat
and show his family and friends, only to be asked "what did you catch that on"?.
Until this day, it's still the first question asked by most anglers, fly fishing for trout or
fishing conventionally for any other species of fish. It's also one of the worst questions
that can be asked. The reason it's a lousy question, is the fact it misleads anglers into
thinking that knowing what someone recently caught fish on is the magic, easy
solution to the challenge. I've seen guys drive for miles to purchase a certain fly to
use because Joe Blow caught some fish on it. We have all witnessed the same song,
The tendency is for one to think that using a fly that worked for Joe Blow yesterday,
gives him or her an advantage. Off hand, it seems far better than randomly selecting
a fly. It's a shortcut, fast, easy way to eliminate their normal "trail and error"
method of selecting flies.
So, what's wrong with that?
There are two ways most anglers, fly fishing for trout, or fishing for anything else from
blue marlin to bream, select their flies and/or lures or bait. One, is to use their favorite
flies/lure/bait and the other is to randomly select them from their boxes and use the
trail and error method determining which one seems to work best.
Neither of these two methods is the best method. The best method is to determine
what is the most available and preferred food the fish are feeding on, and either using
the real thing, or imitating it with an imitation of the real thing. With the exception of
those cases where fish are acting aggressively, protecting their beds/redds from
predators, or striking something as an instinctive reaction, using or imitating what the
fish are eating is by far the best strategy.
When you take any other approach to fly/lure/bait selection, your using less than the
most effective method of determining, in the case of fly fishing for trout, "what fly to
Copyright 2011 James Marsh