This morning I spent an hour with my Optometrist, checking
out my eye-balls. Figured at my age might be a good thing.
Truth was, I kind of suspected I might need new glasses,
turned out, I was right. During one of the tests I had a
large pizza shaped contraption in front of me with a place
for me to peek through.
"Just let me know which one looks better, A or B," he purred.
I tried hard, I really did, but I couldn't see a darned thing.
"Uh, Doc, I'm sorry, but I honestly can't see a thing."
This was not just a little disconcerting. I am getting 'up
there' and perhaps the old peepers aren't what they used
to be. Pitch blackness was not one of the things I had
"Opp's, sorry about that, this better?"
It was, much, after he flipped up a lever somewhere on the
front side of the Anchovy Supreme. The rest of the event
went well and I will have my new glasses in about a week.
I have known him for a few years and although he does not
fly fish, he knew I did and in a gesture of kindness asked
me how the fishing was. That was a short question requiring
an equally short answer. Pretty much, zip; no time, no chance,
no fishing, no fish.
He mentioned his brother-in-law fly fished and always had
a favorite fly, (which he could not begin to remember),
and asked if I did too. As the exam was nearly finished
I didn't launch into a dissertation that it depended on
what I was fishing for and where, heck I had lots of
favorite flies. Anyhow, I could said a 'Royal Fuzzy-Bugger'
and it wouldn't have meant anything to him. I said I
really didn't have one special fly, that I used all
Later today I got to wondering about the favorite fly
thing, I think there was something on the Bulletin Board
lately too, not sure. Years ago, just starting out, I
liked an all white miller, fished it day and night, caught
all manner of fish on it. They were cheap, simple to tie,
I could see them easily and fish ate them. What more did
Well, looking back over the years, I think I would have
liked to have done things a bit differently. I still
have my favorites, the 'Castwell's Marblehead' for coho
and kings, the 'Chum Fly' for chum salmon (duh!), the
all hackle 'Lady's Fishfinder' (one color bi-visible)
(is that possible?) when prospecting for trout, Latin
named flies when there is a hatch or spinner-fall and
a 'mini-pink-puff' for bonefish.
Have you ever asked anyone about a favorite fly and had
them answer, "Heck son, all I eve'r uses is this 'eer
'Fan-Winged Royal Coachman!' I jes ties 'er up in
different sizes." Nope, how about the Adams? In fact,
how about any commonly known fly? You notice a pattern
developing here? Right. Nobody wants to have for a
favorite fly that is well known or (Heaven forbid)
common! It seems everyone wants to have his own
secretive 'sneaky-pete' fly.
When you ask a guy to describe his favorite fly, he
will usually say something like, "Well, it's kinda
like a bead-head humpy, but, I tie it darker with
a longer tail." Great, a lot of help that is.
So, for the Christmas holiday, here's something to try,
it still may not be too late. This winter tie up a bunch
of any well-known fly, your choice, but make it one you
know has at least a chance of catching whatever it is
you fish for. Tie them up in a whole range of sizes;
heck, fill a fly box with the things.
Next season, just take that box out with you, fish the
bejeebers out of them. I don't know of any better way
to end up with a 'favorite fly' that will make you stand
tall above the crowd. And, you will have a favorite fly
all will have heard of, and if you can catch fish on 'that
fly,' boy, you must be a darn good caster and a really
good fly-fisher. What more could you want?
~ James Castwell