On the Fly: Wild Fish, random weather
August 10, 2018
Working behind the counter of a fly shop is very similar to tending bar or being a relationship counselor. A fly fisher has many relationships outside of the human realm. Relationships exist between fish and fishers, and anglers can reach a love-hate point with their gear, their cast and, more often than not, it stems from their attitudes and expectations.
Anglers can reach a crisis of faith. I've known fly fishers much more skillful than I am visit the shop once a blue moon with that deer-in-headlights look on their mug, but there is a tonic I prescribe to these anglers with a case of the yips.
When I used to play a fair amount of golf, playing and practicing with more advanced players always stepped up my game. The same principle applies here. Find someone who is on another level and get on the water with her (or him)! Make inroads with guides, join a club, or simply stop flailing about when you're in the struggle box and watch, really watch, an angler who is whacking fish across the river from you. A compliment and an offer of a cold one after the hatch slows down goes a long way toward gaining some valuable advice and fly recommendations from strangers on the water.
When it comes to attitudes and expectations, my best advice is to loosen up. Fish are wild; weather is random. We can't allow ourselves to get upset if the hatch doesn't happen exactly when that guy behind the fly shop counter says it will. It's no one's fault, really, if the fish are slamming size-22 baetis when you expected them to be on size-16 pale morning duns. There's always another spot to fish when you see a guide with three rods in your favorite honey hole, and just because you couldn't keep fish off your fly a year ago in a certain spot doesn't mean it will happen this time. Fish without a plan, and see where the day takes you. Go with the flow and don't put your human hang-ups on the fish!
If your cast is giving you trouble or you never seem to have the right fly, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are probably more casting instructors here in the valley than doctors or lawyers. Every fly shop has an entomology nut willing to spill their guts about bugs and fly patterns; all you need to do is ask. Take a deep breath, remember why this sport called to you in the first place, and take what the fish are willing to give you.
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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