Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article Column 3 2016
Four Very Common Mistakes!
"Man is natures sole mistake"
Sir Humphrey Gilbert, 1539- 1583
California fly fishers are overcome with pure happiness this weekend fourth Saturday of April as rivers and streams open and water almost history has returned with an El Nino vengeance! After almost five years of drought and serious conservation the curtain has opened as dedicated fly maniacs hit the water...
Not to take the excitement away it goes without saying almost 75% of the weekends avid anglers will not even see a wild trout, let alone actually catch and release these elusive creatures..
In my 60 plus years searching for wild salmon and trout four serious common mistakes seem to haunt fly fishers either expert or brand new. Before I lay out my thinking on catching and releasing wild fish.
Those fly fishers who partake in this complex sport for the sole purpose of socializing may want to stop reading and hit their Spacebook account to see who still loves them! If your guided by strong Herd Instinct and need to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow anglers showing off your shiny new fly rod and casting skills? Please stop reading this missive and go in crowd control peace my pathetic friends.
If you see other anglers or many parked cars fly anglers? Rule number one is keep driving and follow that river until it gets almost impossible to walk down and access. Now you may be close to your first stop. If you can’t find a no human access point here are two methods that usually work for me.
Find a local Bar and start buying drinks and asking about remote no people access to local fly waters. Or hire a local Guide which is almost fail safe great way to go. Because if you think you will catch any fish where many humans are working the water? You will be dead wrong my fly dreamer. As soon as resident trout feel, hear, since humans they are gone or hiding. Rule number one is always fly fish as far away from humans as possible period.
Rule number two is much easier to learn. One must learn to think in total stealth mode and simply wait sit and watch for as long as it takes to understand the currents, depth and possible feeding lanes.
Never storm in and start throwing line or walk into water you don’t know as you will scare all resident fish and wind up with only a nice tan my man! What is your hurry anyway? Stay back well from waters edge and learn to move slowly keeping you shadow off the water. If resident trout feel anything unusual in their home waters they instantly hide or swim away until your history period!
You are not going to start finding and catching fish until you learn these first two high commandments cowboys. When I ran fly fishing schools these first two rules were hardest to pound into a novice brain. As mentioned in the beginning of this treatise on catching fish. If you view this sport as a social activity you are doomed to a life without many hits or catches Pilgrim.
Perhaps table tennis or bird watching or staring at your cell phone may be best for you Mr. Herd Instinct? The ancient adage, "Know thy self" applies to my beloved sport. Why waste your time and clog up fly waters others could enjoy? If I burst your bubble it is best you leave fly fishing to those who desire to catch and release sports fan.
Rule Number Three. Presentation
Before I lay out golden rules for river stream presentation a word about this era of acute social media hypnosis... Wonderful benefits for all mankind have arrived in a flash on smart phones. Young people I encounter appear to be in a state of trance staring at these so-called smart phones as if their very lives depended on them?
In the world of successful fly fishers a kind of anti socialism rules the day. In my mind if you have not mastered the first two mistakes I have mentioned? This third leg to your fly fishing success story will be meaningless waste of time. Let us imagine you are now only seeking the most remote access points for stream, river fly work.
After you have sat well back from the streams edge and watched for either rising fish or obvious feeding lanes. Then assessed boulders and the hanging tree branches and the under edges of the stream bank. It is time to decide either matching what hatch is visible or getting ready to either use streamers or nymphs?
If many insects are present and the trout are not rising then here is where most fly fishers usually fail miserably! If you decide to go with a sinking nymph pattern. Your choices are simple because one fact will rule your morning. Wild trout love to either hide near boulders, brush overhangs or under ledges. They do not swim up and down the middle water column. They always hide and save energy which is why if your presenting a rig with a nymph as a dropper with say a Grasshopper on top.
You will throw this set up stream a few times to test the trout population. Streamers are simple like casting lures just throw and vary the retrieve and your good to go. If you add split shot and vary the depth you are working streamers properly.
Here is my personal golden rule for all situations your nymph must get down deep enough to fool trout. Learn the High Stick method. Let out several feet of line with your weighted nymph and drop it straight down near where your wading and work it slowly. If resident trout are home you win.
But, if your not getting close to the bottom you loose. Trout hug the bottom sitting and waiting for passing meals of bugs and worms. If you understand how to work a mouse pattern it is almost a sure trout attractor. Mice need to hit the bank or trees or boulders and then fall in and swim with tails leaving nice busy wakes. If you understand only one thing in this column it hopefully will be that trout love to hied deep or along edges.
You must go deep to catch trout period! If you master these techniques you will catch and release more wild fish then any of your friends ever will... One last comment on surface dry fly work. If it is possible to not wade and disturb resident fish? Then stand well back before starting to throw dry flies and your success will triple. If you see fish rising down stream rather then casting at them and spooking them.
Simply gently let out line and let your dry fly easily float down into the rising fish. This easy gentle method is sure fire success. Once you have caught two fish move away from the area and let the pool get un-spooked for you have now alerted all the other fish and probably will not catch a third or fourth. Keep moving Pilgrim it is the way Yoda...
Rule Number Four
If you have not taken the time to carefully check out your equipment failure is waiting for you! Buy new fly line every year and carefully spool it on with no kinks. Your fly line must be cleaned after every outing commercial kits are available. All your flies and gear must be checked carefully and replaced if necessary.
If your not able to take your fly reel apart and clean and oil it? Have a pro do it for you.
No question all your gear has to be carefully maintained. Waders leaking, fly reels tangling and a messy fly box will kill your chances every time. Try and pre tie all the tippet leader set ups a head of time. Now days it is crucial you sanitize your waders and boots after each trip as you may be transporting living organisms from stream, rivers to your next destination. Invasive species hot topic fly fishers! Be careful, respectful and prepared for the 2016 season.
Written by Dan Fallon © 2016