On the Fly: Back to school | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Back to school

Angler Christian Hill tests his skills.

Perhaps one of the best things about casting flies to trout is that you can never learn it all, even if you fished for two lifetimes. This is especially true when visiting new, unfamiliar waters. This holds true for rivers you have fished for years, too.

Angling, or the art of fooling fish with a rod and a hook, can appear simple and straightforward to the untrained eye. I would argue that few sporting pursuits require more skill or have more room for thinking “outside the box” than fly casting. We all know people who fly fish in this valley, but truly skilled fishermen aren’t a dime a dozen.

The best fishermen have the humility to accept that fish and insects do not always behave the way we expect or want them to. We have all had one of those days on the water when seemingly every fish is happily eating off of the surface. When you go back the next day, with similar conditions and fly assortments, nothing seems to work. No fish are rising. It’s like the AA adage — being able to recognize things you can control versus things you cannot, and having the wisdom to know the difference. The best anglers have this wisdom and adapt their technique or flies, or simply know when to pack it up and find happier fish elsewhere.

If fly fishing were as simple as it looks, the attraction would wear thin quickly for most of us. Golf looks simple enough, until you realize the skill involved with making a perfect tee shot or long putt. The same holds true for fly fishing. I look forward to a lifetime of figuring out all the little things that present problems and opportunities on the water. Anglers entice their rewards, we don’t command them. This is only a small part of the poetry of a day on a mountain stream.

No two successive hours are alike for the river or the fisherman. Our mood changes as the day progresses, and so does the mood of the river and the fish we pursue. All we can do is go with the flow and pay attention to the subtle clues the trout and the water offer up to us.

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.

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