Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tip of the Week--The Magic Fly

First of all, there is no magic fly so if that's what you're looking for, you can stop right here. These weight flies definitely least they better because it took me two hours of the SVP and Russillo show and three episodes of Vikings to get this many done BUT...they are not magic flies.

As guides, we all try to convince clients we have some magic up our sleeves and sometimes we can even convince ourselves of that but the reality is, as long as you have confidence with a fly and you stick with it, you'll find out quick it has way more to do with presentation than the perfect fly.

Now that's not to say the fly doesn't matter. It most certainly does. You're probably not going to catch a lot of fish throwing caddis flies right now but regardless; if you can't get a drift and you can't get it to where the fish are, the coolest fly in the world isn't going to get it done. There are literally thousands of flies out there imitating hundreds of different bugs and you might have a dozen or more different bugs in the water column at a given time so by putting any number of patterns in front of them with the right presentation and someone is going to eat it.

Granted, after fish get pounded for a few weeks, they definitely get more selective and some patterns do a better job of emulating the real deal. During those times where they do get picky, drift and presentation mean that much more. And as far as all these different patterns go, some are quite literally made to catch the fisherman and not the fish.

The reason presentation and drift more specifically is so important on the Missouri is because the water is relatively flat and slow moving. Due to the nature of a trout and their survival instincts, they won't even look at something that isn't drifting along like everything else because they know it's not food and it could cost them. They get a long time to decide whether to eat or not to eat. Think of it as the fish is lying in a food trough and everything is drifting by them in the exact same manner with the same angle and they're just sitting down there picking food off as it comes to them. All of the sudden, something comes whizzing past their face way faster than everything else and against the grain. They're going to duck and get the hell out of the way because they don't see it as food but as potential danger.

One thing I always do with clients when I'm fishing nymphs out of the boat is I always get them to cast just a little down stream from where they're orientated. That quartering angle helps them to mend their line with a little bit of an upstream belly without dragging their gear back to the boat. As the boat drifts along with the rig, the client can easily make adjustments without having to throw a huge loop back upstream. They get a much longer drift with their gear staying in the zone and they don't get nearly as frustrated with not being able to get that loop to flip completely upstream from their indicator. Any drag at all can make the difference; especially when the fishing get's tough.

If you haven't learned it yet, a reach cast is essential when fishing dries downstream to rising fish but it can also help when fishing nymph rigs. Basically, it's just reaching back up stream with your rod tip while line is shooting. Timing is incredibly important and you're probably not going to become real proficient with a reach cast overnight but once you figure it out, it can definitely help to get that drift quicker and get you into fish sooner.

Reading currents and being able to manage one's line in order to get that perfect drift is an art form that for most of us is viewed as probably the most important element to fly fishing. I always tell people that are throwing 50 or 60 feet from the boat, "Nice cast. Now what are you going to do? You can throw your entire spool and reach the opposite bank but if you can't get a drift, what's the point?"

The closer you stay to the boat, the easier it is to manage your line and the better drift you'll get. That doesn't mean you don't have to get outside the oars but keep it within reason. A general rule of thumb is that if you can't mend your line, you're out too far.

The better a person is at getting the drift, the more fish they are going to catch and that's the beauty of the sport. Your successes are directly correlated with experience and learning new skills. Remember; flies are important and you have to be able to cast well enough to get it out of the boat but presentation is key and the crazy thing is, is that it's probably the easiest of the three to control and understand, which is probably why it get's so overlooked.

Keep 'em where they live...

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