Eye of the Guide


Tom Travis - Mar 6, 2017

I can't begin to tell you all of the books or magazine articles I have read on the various aspects of fly fishing over the years and I can't begin to tell you how many times anglers have immediately jumped on the band wagon of a certain piece of fly fishing information.

Over the years when I operated a fly shop and throughout my career as a fly fishing guide I have attempted to counsel anglers to consider what water type or angling situation the author was discussing and how this information would impact the water being fished by the exuberant angler, sometimes I was successful and sometimes not so much.

Last year this point was again driven home to me as one of my clients had obtained a copy of Spinners by Sylvester Nemes which was published in 1995. Now this is an excellent book which offers excellent coverage of the subject matter as well as lots of suggested fly patterns. Now my client and friend became so enamored with some of the patterns that he tied up lots of a couple of the suggested imitations and then was disappointed in the way they performed in broken water. I pointed out that the patterns in question were designed for smooth water and relatively short casts and the hook shanks were painted and wire was used in the construction design along with a very sparse hackle.

Down through the years I have seen this happen to many anglers and the simple solution is to slow down and consider how I can adapt this information to my own personal fishing.

The point is that the angler has to consider the advice and if a pattern catches your attention you must decide how the advice and or the pattern will fit into the waters you are personally fishing. Sometimes all that is needed is a slight modification of the method being described or the suggested fly patterns.

Recently I was giving a lecture to a small group of interested anglers with the subject being sight nymphing and the works of G.E.M. Skues. I was talking about the fact that Skues either autopsied or took throat samples of the trout he caught and how those samples displayed an overwhelming number of nymphs or emerging nymphs and very few actual duns.

During a break in the lecture, I listen to several of the anglers having a lively discussion over this bit of information and I could also hear that they were beginning to stray and apply this knowledge to situations which were not being covered by the lecture. Upon resuming the lecture I pointed out that the conclusions reached by Skues were base on the samples taken during hatch situations and on Chalk Stream (Spring Creek) type waters.

Misconstruing the information and applying it to situations where is doesn't apply will lead the angler to faulty conclusions and thus frustration on the water. Please don't fall into this trap. Also remember that no matter how convincingly the writer phrases the thoughts and theories that you are reading, that there are no absolutes in fly fishing.
That is why fly fishing will never be a point and click sport, regardless of the high quality of the information, the angler still must be thinking about how it can be applied.

Which in closing brings me to my favorite Albert Einstein Quote; Education is not the Learning of facts….But training the mind to Think. I believe that this famous quote when applied to the sport of fly fishing and fly tying stands on its merit.

Enjoy & Good Fishin'

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