Search the internet and you will find plenty of fly fishing experts, willing and able to befuddle you beyond all reason with their grasp of the sport. I am not one of them.
I do like to touch upon important aspects of fly fishing from time to time, though, as I did with “Fishing Hurts,” where I discuss the back cast, and with “Teach a Man to Fish,” where I discuss delicate presentations and sportsmanship in general. I am able to observe a lot of fishermen, both on the water and off, and over the years I have reached some very important conclusions regarding this peaceful pastime and its practitioners. One of those conclusions — painful as it is to admit — is that a six-year-old with a $20.00 Spiderman fishing pole and a tub of worms can catch more fish than a 50-year-old with a $600.00 fly fishing rig.
There, I said it. I am also nearly certain that a pink marshmallow will attract more trout than a Royal Wulff and corn will generally outperform the most intricate woven-body nymph.
Most fly fishers, superior beings that they are, know red wigglers, corn and marshmallows are not commonly found in streams, rivers or lakes and choose to tempt their quarry with offerings that resemble the things the quarry would normally eat. They learn more than anyone should know about these naturally occurring food items, create artificial imitations on hooks, and the successful angler is usually the one who was able to “match the hatch”.
When it comes to bass, I believe my friend Urban Grizzly just might be on to something. The theory holds with other fish, too, but I am rather restricted to trout, specifically the trout of Fish in a Barrel Pond.
The right fly at the right time is in here. Somewhere. I think.
Quite a few varieties of mayfly inhabit our waters, as nymphs, and when they’re on the move I’ve got at least a reasonable facsimile.
When those nymphs emerge to get their groove on before dying I can probably come up with something pretty darn close.
If it’s minnows, dace or crayfish the trout are eating I’m there.
Grasshoppers? Check. Moths? Check. Caddis? Check.
Why, if I’m on the water and the trout are snacking on nothing but tiny midges — chartreuse, no less — I’ve got that, too.
An exact match is not always important. Sometimes close is good enough, especially when the action is taking place at 9:30 on a June evening and the fish probably aren’t seeing much better than the fly fishers are. It also helps that the nymphs and emergent stages of those big mayflies are just plain freaky looking.
I might even have something in my bag of tricks that resembles these tasty morsels (I’m assuming they are tasty).
I have flies that look like ants, beetles and caterpillars, too, for days the breeze carries them to the lake surface. Mayflies, midges, minnows, moths and more, there’s a fly for that. Hours of close observation, and a carefully honed ability to guess, allow the well-rounded angler to choose the right fly at the right time (putting it in the right place is another matter), and most fly fishers have at least a passing acquaintance with the food items found on, in or near their favorite water, and I am no exception, but it has become apparent that I have yet to see it all.
One of the hottest flies in these parts looks like nothing I’ve ever seen in or on Fish in a Barrel Pond but catches plenty of fish.
I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be but, in the right light and if I squint a bit, it looks kind of like pink marshmallows and corn to me.