This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

November 11th, 2002


Experience is knowing you just made the same mistake again.

Been there, done that? If nothing else knowing you just made the same mistake would indicate you aren't changing much.

How many times have you heard someone tell you how many years they've been fly fishing?

Here's one to think about - do they really have say ten years experience? Or - one years experience ten times? Let's face it, many of us do not get out to fish every week, much less several times a week. If you add weather conditions, we may not fish as much over a season as we would really like. Instead of a years experience in truth it may be more like a few days.

Truly if you fished several times a week for most of the season you should have acquired a great deal of knowledge about the waters you fish - and the insects and fish who live there. Casting, which fly to use when, the little nuances in mending line, where the fish will be at any given time of day (or season) should be neatly catalogued in your mental file system. It is the knowing. The instinctive reaction to a set of circumstances presented on any given day on any given water. The seasoned angler (or well seasoned) will catch fish.

We've all heard the old saw, "10% of fishermen catch 90% of the fish." Maybe only 10% really are fishermen?

Al Campbell's column in this issue has to do with Winter Projects. My suggestion is for you to work on your fly fishing over the winter.

No, I'm not advocating violating, or cutting a long trough in the ice so you can cast either - but there is a great deal in print - (not to mention here on FAOL) which can improve your fishing for next season.

You may not be able to go out and work on your casting - but you can analyze if you need to work on it, and make a plan on what you are going to do about it for the next season. Read? Get a video? Take a class?

How about your technique? Are you able to place a cast where you want it? If you are nymphing can you get your fly down where it needs to be? Why not? How do you fix it? Is there more than one way to mend line? What does it do? Why? Do you use it? Why not?

Do you consider yourself a presentationist or an imitationist? Is how you present the fly most important? Or is matching the hatch the prime thing?

Do you know your bugs? If you turned over a rock on your favorite water would you know what you were seeing? Or if there would be a hatch? How can you match the food the fish eat if you don't know what it is? Yes, the insects have Latin names, big deal. They also have 'common' names, learn what lives there.

Catching fish is not all that difficult. Know the fish, it's habits, what it eats. Learn the insects, their habits. Put the fish and insects together. Bingo.

If you only fish nymphs, why not tie up some streamers? You'll have to find out which streamers would be appropriate on your waters. Streamers usually represent fry or baitfish. What is present where you fish?

Have you tried dry flies? Why not? Since they usually are fished as a specific imitation of a hatch which is occurring at specific times of the year, you probably should learn about which bugs hatch when. Do the fish take the emerger of the dry? What is an emerger? Are there insects which don't emerge? Would you need to adapt your casting to fish a dry fly? How?

I don't want to beat this to death, but it's a long winter unless you live in the sunny southland.

Don't waste it. Hit the computer, the books, learn some things over the winter which will bring you more joy in your fishing.

Just going fishing, without much catching can be enjoyable too - the 'being there' - but you have a great opportunity to add to that experience now. Set some goals, discover new places, try new things. When spring comes, you too can "know." ~ LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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