This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

May 20th, 2002


What do you think of when you see the word 'Presentation?'

For some it will register as the exact placement of the fly to a fish. Is this more important with dry flies than with nymphs? Are streamers and attractors included?

Is that it?

Gary Borger wrote an excellent book a few years ago, Presentation is a big book, with a ton of information. I did a review of it back in October of 1997, and here is a little from that review:

Quoting the book jacket, "Presentation is more than casting and line handling, more than fishing techniques, more than the right fly, more than understanding and finding fish, more than the right equipment.

Presentation is the integrated whole.

Presentation is the integrated whole.


Let's start at the beginning - which really IS where presentation starts. When you think about fishing a particular place, what are your first thoughts? Where? When? With what? Presentation starts with the first thought of the fish and or the fishing trip.

You may know the fishery, the stream, the hatches, but you may not be as prepared as you could be. What line? How long a leader? Which leader material? How about the tippet?

Where do you fish? Think about that a bit, just where do you position yourself to make those first casts? How long a drift can you get from that position? Why do you stand, kneel, sit where you do? Is there a better place? Are you more or less visible? Could it be better? How much stealth are you using? Do you stop at the edge of the water and watch carefully before you rig up and start casting? Or do you just plunge right in?

Which fly? Are there insects hatching? Ah, but are they what the fish are eating? How do you know? Guessing? Have your little aquarium net?

Do you look for rising fish? If there are rising fish, how far above them do you start placing your fly? Are you casting over the fish then? Is there another way? What? How? If there is more than one fish available, which do you cast to first? Why?

Were the fish really rising? Or were they nymphing? Can you tell the difference? Do you know the different rise forms? Is there a difference between a rise and a bulge?

If you do hook a fish, then what? Do you just strip line in by hand? What if it is a large fish? And wants to go downstream? Can you keep up with it? What about all that hanging line you stripped in? Maybe it's much better to get the line on the reel as fast as possible. Play the fish off the reel.

Always, every time. If it is the natural thing you always do, you won't be jammed up when that BIG fish really does hit.

So you've got the fish on. Now what? What is it likely to do? Where is it going to go? Are you prepared to counter whatever moves the fish makes? Did you really look at the surrounding area? What options does the fish have? What options do you have? Don't know? Results are fish broken off, lost.

If you lost - or landed the fish, what then? Is there another run, pool, riffle to fish? Can you rest where you have just fished and come back? Where there other fish? How do you know?

A large part of 'Presentation' is being observant. Paying attention.

This includes things like what rods work best for you under a given set of conditions, what line and leader combination? Length and type of leader, the leader material, what the speed of the current is, the level of the water, the clearness or turbidity of the water and very important - the temperature of the water.

Which insects are most likely to be available a what times of day? Can you determine if there will be an evening hatch? How about a spinner fall?

Having the right bug isn't enough. Is it the right size? If you don't have the exact size what then? Choose one larger? Or smaller? Do you pick the fly to match the profile, size or color of what is hatching? What if you can only match one of those?

Did you notice I didn't mention casting? Yes, of course it's part of presentation! If you have everything else absolutely correct and can't get the fly to the fish - you're out of the game.

There is more to 'Presentation' than putting the fly in front of the fish. It's that 'more' which makes it such a wonderful journey. Once in a while we get it mostly right, and the fish are in hand. Isn't it grand? ~ LadyFisher

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