On the Fly: Listen to the fish
On The Fly
Learning how to fly-fish is really not that difficult. Mastering fly-fishing on the other hand is a lifelong pursuit. As a professional “fly-tender,” I am asked fishing and fly questions on a daily basis. After 20-plus years of selling flies behind the fly shop counter, I’ve heard it all. People come to fly shops looking for answers — “What are they biting on?” “Where should I go?” “What time of day is best?” “What rod, reel, fly line, leader, tippet, indicator, weight, flies are best?”
I’ll gladly relay to my customers the appropriate answers to their questions but nearly always they forget to ask the most important question of all: why? More often than not, especially in this day and age of technology, instant gratification has become commonplace. People literally want me to rig their rod, tell them which rock to stand on and where to cast at a specific time of day. Oftentimes, the fish and Mother Nature have other plans. The hatch might be delayed, a different insect might materialize, someone might be in “your” spot, or, sometimes, the catching (never the fishing) might just happen to suck that day. That’s OK. It’s generally during those slow days of catching when you most often come away learning the most. To me, a successful day on the water is never about the number of fish brought to the net. A successful day or guide trip should always be about walking away knowing something that you didn’t know before.
A friend of mine who was one of the best fishing guides that I’ve ever met once told me, “Do you know how I learned to fish? My dad sat me on a rock next to the stream and told me to watch the fish.” He relayed to me how he would sit there for hours just staring at the fish, slowly learning their behavior. His sentiments reminded me of myself, how I too learned how to fish by simply watching the fish. If you pay attention and listen closely the fish will always tell you what you need to be doing and if you’re doing things right.
So remember this the next time you walk in a fly shop: The best questions always get the best answers. But keep in mind, the fish do not always listen to what the dude in the fly shop says behind the counter. That’s fishing. Sometimes, you simply need to listen to fish.
This column is provided weekly by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.