SOMETIMES JUST SITTING AND WATCHING WILL IMPROVE YOUR FLY FISHING
Since starting fly fishing over 20 years ago, I honestly feel that my fly fishing has improved due to observing others as they fish and the following are some of what I have observed and my thoughts:
I have noticed that there are many fly fishermen that only fish the fast water sections of a river. They fish the fast water and then get out of the river and walk the bank to the next fast water section. There are not many that want or enjoy fishing the slower and deeper pools between the fast water sections. That is fine for me because I enjoy fishing the pools and feel the larger fish will be holding there and have had good success fishing these deeper pools.
I have noticed that many fly fishermen step off the bank and wade through 3 or 4 feet deep water just to get to the 1 foot deep fast water and start fishing. They have just waded through the best water and ruined some of the best fishing. I have observed just the opposite where a fishermen with chest high waders wades out into water above his waist before making their first cast. They would have been more successful if they only had waist high waders or hippers on. That would force them to fish where the fish were.
I have sat on the bank to just relax and enjoy what my Creator has created and observed fishermen wading and casting and seen them hang their fly in a tree limb. Once they either get their fly back or just break it off, they wade back out where they were and make the same identical cast that put the fly in the tree on their other cast. I have to wonder if they only know one way to cast. I am always looking behind me as I wade to see if there is anything that will "eat my fly" before I make a cast. If there is, all one has to do is change the angle of their cast. Maybe a side arm cast to get their back cast to go under the obstruction or maybe turn your body and cast up or down the river or a roll cast. I have taught myself how to cast around obstructions by accident. There have been many times that I needed to fly fish and only had a couple hours and once I arrived at the river I decided that I do not want to waste any fishing time by putting on my waders and wading boots and will just walk the river bank and fish. Doing this you put yourself in some very difficult casting situations and I work at my casting to get my fly out where I want it. Doing this is how I taught myself how to cast with obstructions hindering my back cast. I know that a lot of people practice their casting in their yard or in an open area like a ball field or park and that is fine with me if they are happy with it. I much rather walk the river bank and practice my casting where my fly line will get wet and the real life obstructions will be there. Have you ever practiced casting in your yard to learn a certain casting technique and once you have perfected it, you have trouble doing it once you are on the river? It could be that a dry fly line does not cast like a wet fly line and you would have learned more by practicing your casting over water like at a lake or pond. That way you will know how your fly line responds when it is wet plus you can have a fly on the end and maybe catch a fish.
This next observation is not a problem but one could learn more if they would make a change. I have noticed that the biggest majority of fly fishermen are perfectly content with only fishing about 4 hours and then they go home. For me, I prefer spending all day on the river because I enjoy exploring and getting away from people. Spending the whole day allows me the time to try new places and new techniques. On one of my rivers that I enjoy fishing, I have noticed that the best fishing starts after about 3:30 p.m. and the trout fishing is fantastic for about 2 hours and then it tapers off. The early morning is good and about 1 p.m. it slows way down and most fishermen go home and tell their buddies that the fishing was slow and then they just quit rising. That is fine with me because I have the river to myself and some of the best fishing of the day. Most that know me will tell you that I quit fishing about "dark thirty".
I have observed fly fishermen that give up on their "go-to" fly and start tying on every fly in their fly box and if they would have just fished their "go-to" fly harder and changed their presentation, they would have been more successful. A fly you have confidence in is better than all the flies in your fly box.
There are many other observations I have made that have improved my fly fishing, but, I have bored you enough and will stop.
So, if you will explore the deeper pools more, watch your back cast clearance, practice your casting over water instead of your lawn, spend more time on the water away from the crowd, walk the river bank and fly fish from the bank to improve your casting and fish harder with your "go-to" flies and change up your presentation, you should notice an improvement with your fly fishing. I know it has improved mine.
The most important thing to remember is to slow down and enjoy your time on the water so that you will notice what your Creator has given you and learn to appreciate it more.
Warren Patterson, Tullahoma, TN