Lets say, hypothetically, that you belong to a nonprofit organization. Maybe it’s a group that wants to raise money to help kids avoid the dangers that come from listening to gangster rap or an organization that wants to make sure that a specific species of animal is properly protected within a specific environment. Lets go with the last one. We’ll say they want to protect, oh I don’t know… maybe trout. And specifically this hypothetical organization wants to protect these trout and their habitat on a particular river. We’ll call this river the “Baluda River” and the organization “Trout Limitless”.
So say you belong to the Baluda Chapter of Trout Limitless and there’s an event that includes fishing and BBQ for members and guests of members to help boost involvement. You, as a member, come rolling up to the parking spot for this event in your white jeep looking like the illicit love child of John Gierach and Count Dooku (from the Star Wars prequels) and wearing your stupid fucking “look at me and how old school fly fisherman I am” hat and see two individuals you don’t recognize. Do you:
A. Give these two the third degree about who the hell they are, what they’re doing there and once those two things are established start making fun of ones waders and speaking to the other as if he is completely ignorant of all things fly fishing causing both of these individuals to feel so unwelcomed that they just leave. Or do you:
B: Politely introduce yourself, ask in a nonchalant way if they’re here for the event and make friendly small talk about fishing, the weather and other non confrontational subjects.
Well, if you belong to a nonprofit organization that relies on donations and volunteers to get things accomplished the correct answer is B.
You can’t slather on enough sunscreen to keep from burning at least some - I tried. I applied. Then I reapplied. Then I put on some more. I still burned. So I found a new appreciation for technical fishing clothes and yes, though it pains me to say it, even the Buff.
Fish don’t like the smell of sunscreen
Just because I can hit a child with a fly while he’s running full-bore across a field at 80 ft and with a 20 knot wind blowing doesn’t mean that I can successfully cast to a feeding permit 30 ft away when the breeze is barely rippling the water - Buck fever is a horrible affliction.
I may be too easily distracted - “Oh look a baby lobster.” “That’s a neat looking sponge.” “What is that, Stag-horn coral?” “What a cool looking bird!” “Fuck! I can’t believe I poled right over that fish! I shouldn’t have been looking at that goddamn lobster/sponge/coral/bird!” And yes I do talk to myself like that when I’m alone.
Being ready for the proper fish is hard - I learned long ago that having more than one fly rod rigged and ready to go in my kayak is a recipe for tangles, unending frustration and sometimes broken rods. On this last trip I learned that I’ll see permit and redfish if I have my shark rig ready to go and I’ll see nothing but sharks and ‘cuda if I have my other rod ready to go.
Bonefish don’t exist - They are a fiction created by “big fly fishing” to sell rods and flies so fat cats in the industry can continue to rake in the millions. All photos you may have seen are CGI. If you claim to have seen or caught a bonefish personally you are obviously in the pocket of the “Man”.
A shark the length of my kayak can swim in 2 ft of water without making the slightest bit of disturbance on the surface - What the hell is that about!?!?
And the only possible way to truly become proficient fly fishing in the Keys is to spend a lot of time fishing there - So I’m going to have to start going down there at least once or twice a year. I’m sure my wife won’t mind…
Due to the incredible destructive force that my children posses I’m forced to write this on an iPad, which I’m not real good typing on, so I’m going to keep this short.
One week from today I’ll be in the Keys. I will have six days to do nothing but fish. No wife, no kids, just me, my kayak and some fly fishing gear.
Hopefully I’ll come back to tell stories (with pictures) of big salty fish, lessons I learned and at least one “this is not the way to do it” tale. If not I should at least come back a bit more tan and much more relaxed.
So y’all wish me luck and be expecting the first reports in a couple of weeks!
In less than a week I’m floating the Saluda River in Columbia, SC with a good buddy of mine to target some tailwater trout.
Supposedly these particular trout are big fans of streamers and big flashy nymphs, which I currently have very few to none of. So I’ve been trying to tie some up.
I have a problem though.
I’ll be leaving for the Keys in a little more than a month and have literally been dreaming about bonefish, tarpon and permit most nights for the last couple of weeks. So every time I sit in front of my vice (see I spelled “vise” wrong on purpose as a form of subtle word play or a “pun” if you will) to tie up some streamers or nymphs I end up tying Gotchas or Merkins or some other form of flats fly.
These most likely won’t work on the 12″ stocked rainbows I’ll be fishing for in less than a week…
Hmmm? I’m guessing this is what people refer to as a “first world problem”.
I’ve tied literallythousands of flies at this point in my life. Sometimes people and fly shops even want to buy some of them from me, which means that I have found myself having to tie multiple dozens of the same pattern all of which should look pretty much exactly alike. With variations in materials and other more cryptic variables sometimes making two identical flies seem daunting, much less a dozen of them.
If you’re nitpicky and self-critical like me (for your sake I hope you’re not) this can drive you a little crazy when tying a large order of flies. I have learned a few things over the years to help me maintain my sanity though:
Wait at least a few hours to do the final inspection - If you just finished tying a dozen flies for somebody don’t immediately jump into comparing them to one another. Every little tiny, itty-bitty difference will seem glaringly obvious to you and you’ll wonder if you should retie that one with the wing that seems a fraction of a millimeter shorter or just get rid of that one there with the eye that looks like it might be a little lower than the other eye. Step away from your flies and comeback later. If you’re at least a reasonably competent tyer you’ll find that you won’t be able to tell much of a difference from one fly to the next.
Don’t compare your flies to flies in bins at big box stores like Bass Pro or Cabela’s - These flies come from big companies like Umpqua that have fly “factories” in Asia where people get paid good money (by their standards) to spend eight hours a day, five days a week, tying the exact same fly over and over and over again. Remember, unless you’re willing to spend this kind of time doing the same thing you’re flies will never be as perfectly uniform as theirs.
And remember that as a tyer of flies you will always be more critical of the flies you see - This isn’t to say people who don’t tie don’t know what a well tied fly looks like, but as a fly tyer, you’re more likely to notice the finer details, good and bad. To most people, as long as the fly does what it’s supposed to do and doesn’t fall apart after the first three or four fish (sharks, muskie and other big toothy fish not included) they’re going to be pretty happy with it.
Hopefully these tips will help put you at ease if you’re anything like me.