Dan Fallon Fly Fishing Article 2018
TRUE MASTER FLY FISHER
" We are the masters at the moment, and not only at the moment, but for a very long time to come."
While stumbling along smelling first early fall leaves and reflecting on my great fortune becoming addicted to fly fishing at an early age... I came across a man around my age early mid seventies sitting on a rock overlooking a fine slow creek. I catch him easily tying on the exact same grasshopper/ nympth set up I have used for decades with much success! " Morning friend, I see your about to begin working my all time most productive trout set up.", " Why fix what ain't broke! This rig almost never fails. Have thrown it winter, summer, fall same great results always."
I rarely if ever go out of my way to shoot the breeze with anyone while out working fly waters. Unless it's a young person I can help cast or maybe answer basic questions... So this seasoned journeyman was an exception. In the 60 plus odd years wondering around many fly waters I have run across a few absolute masters. I had the honor to meet and become friends with the legendary Walt Powell many years ago just before he passed. His fame and his families world reputation in regard to quality hand made Bamboo is still unchallenged. Walt took me out on his jet Boat and we spent many hours discussing general fly fishing and the art of presentation. He loved to educate and instill respect for this complicated sport.
LEARNING TO KEEP IT SIMPLE COWBOY
One aspect and constant that always points me toward running into a true master is how simply they approach the sport and the amount of gear needed. My great Uncle and a few other life long fly fishers in my mind did approach the rank of master. Uncle Clyde was so patient and focused, he knew where and when to begin his morning or afternoon.
He would always explain carefully his goal to get rid of extra junk in his vest and simplify. Carry only the fly assortment needed for the area and waters he work'ed! He would say, " Danny boy lets open your vest and take out all the junk you really don't need! ". When we worked either the mighty American River or the Feather circa early 1950's. He kept on the move all morning and tried many tactics usually catching and letting go many fine Rainbows.
If we failed say by 9:30 AM, it was time to sit and watch and wait and most important practice three golden rules for life in general I learned as a young Marine. Adapt, Improvise, Overcome. Uncle Clyde taught me to bushwhack, climb tall rocks or find high safe tree limbs if necessary! " World is full of looser fly fishers who give up at 10:00 AM and declare no fish today-time for early lunch... Golf anyone?
IT'S ALL MENTAL STUPID!
When I consider the many qualities of a true fly master the list of absolutes is long indeed! Experience with all possible waters, rivers, creeks, lakes first foremost... Presentation under all conditions from early morning to sunset including high winds and rain and very nasty weather. Ability to work all the standard patterns either dry fly or wet. Capable of choosing exact weight fly rod to match the situation, water depth, current strength critical.
Perhaps most important tenacity that never ever give up mind set is vital! Masters I have known consider fly fishing a way of life not a sport. Mental sharpness is the key. Forgetting all everyday anything and becoming totally immersed, mesmerized by moving water and thinking exactly like a resident trout, salmon... Above all else a complete mastery of dry fly technique which is the top of the mountain in fly fishing ability. Do you know anyone with these qualities? If so listen and learn perhaps one day who knows even you could become a true master fly fisher. In my 60 plus years I recall times in the company of real masters. When we were near fly waters neither knew anything about. My master Pal would say, " Wolf if their are only rumors of wild trout in these waters we will catch and release absolutely without fail! Become the bug cowboy..."
ALL IN YOUR HEAD PILGRIM!
After you have spent at least twenty years learning the basics to this complicated game... Then your ready to examine your mental game. At this point you have to carry that fly rod, you have to watch the water turn over rocks and sift sand for insects to match. You no longer have a choice Cowboy! If your best friend gives you a choice of two weeks all expense paid to some distant paradise or two days on the Snake River or three hours at Hat Creek or one hour on the Madison? You know the drill Pal. Smile and just walk away Tall fly rod in hand.
It is impossible for me to drive near any river without constantly staring looking for rising trout. Cannot be anywhere near fast moving creeks or streams without my heart rate jumping and getting very itchy to string up my Bamboo and get to it. Mark Twain said, " know your addictions and your restrictions! Then live, live, live..."