The Way of a Trout with a Fly
The Way of a Trout with a Fly
Of all forms of angling fly-fishing is the most intrinsically interesting and the most productive of varied and sometimes remarkable experiences. The stream fly fisherman of many seasons is perforce learned in the ways of the brook trout. In fair weather and foul, at times successfully and at other times with ill success, he has cast his flies over many waters and been in at the death of many good fish. But, withal, the way of a trout with a fly is still to him much of a mystery. There are, in general, in every stream three characteristic localities wherein at some time the trout will rise to a fly; these are the riffles, rapids, and pools. In each of these places the rises, as a rule, will show certain fairly well sustained differences; that is, to take the conditional extremes, the trout of the quiet water will rise to the fly quite differently from his brother of the rapids.
Dependent upon the time, early, well along, or late in the season, trout are found on the riffles in lesser or greater numbers and at night large trout resort there when feeding. But as a rule the trout of the shallow riffles are not large. They strike very quickly, frequently miss, and fastening them is a matter of quick eye and good judgment, to say nothing of an educated wrist. In the pools the conditions are reversed. Here the fish are apt to be weighty and their method of rising and taking the fly is in dignified keeping with their size. The angler must adapt his course of action to the occasion. Also the question of what fly and how fished can usually be decided only by actual trial.
In regard to the construction of the artificial fly some fly-fishing theorists hold that coloration is of chief importance and others maintain that color should be subservient to form. The practical fly-fisherman is unwilling to subscribe entirely to either theory. Minute differences and gradations in coloration or form do not appeal to the practical man as being of sufficient importance to warrant the hair-splitting and ink-shedding in which their advocates indulge. And yet it must be admitted that almost every angler can cite from his own experience an occasion when some such slight variation of shade or shape proved the deciding factor in the day's success.
Every angler likes to fish a new, well-tied fly. There are times, however, and this is worth remembering, when the oldest, most frayed out nondescript in the fly book will succeed despite the fact that the latest spring fashions in artificial bugs have failed dismally. Such a ragged veteran as this, with a torn wing and body partly unraveled and trailing, seems at times to have an almost hypnotic influence over reluctant fish. The grizzly king, a very good general fly bordering on the fancy, is usually tied with a red tail. As an instance of the occasional importance of small differentiations in the artificial fly it may be said that in some localities this fly is of almost no use unless the red tail is removed.
As a rule the fly-book of the experienced angler contains flies of comparatively few patterns in regard to color, while as regards variation of size the range is wide. Every fly-caster comes in time to depend upon a certain few flies which have served him well, and a plentiful supply of these favorites dressed on hooks of various sizes, is all that he asks. The coachman is the most generally useful trout fly and aside from it there is no other fly upon which two anglers are wont to agree. While it is true that a restricted fly list is wholly competent on waters which the angler has fished many times and knows like a book, it is also true that in strange waters the angler who plays his aforetime favorites to the exclusion of reputedly successful local patterns is inviting disappointment.
Fishing the fly, when all is said, is of far more importance than either the formation or coloration of the fly. The operation of casting may, to a certain extent or natural limit of proficiency, be learned by almost anyone. Fishing the fly is quite another matter and herein the angler shows his quality. To fish successfully with the fly the angler must have "fish sense."
Camp, Samuel Granger. The Fine Art of Fishing. New York: Outing Pub., 1911. Print.
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