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So What Went Wrong?

The weather was perfect, you were in the right place, at the right time and you didn't catch anything.

You read all the articles on the nymphs, streamers, wets and dries, watched the water, sky and bushes for sign of insect activity, were careful wading, and not one hit. You cast until you thought your arm would fall off. So what went wrong?

In truth you probably did a lot of things right! Remember, this is a journey, not a destination. The learning experience in fly fishing is being able to put a lot of things together in the right combination to have a fish on your fly. The size or specie of the fish really doesn't matter, if it's your fish. And the effort to get there is worth it!

Here are some bits and pieces to add to your collection. Approaching the water, did you know where the fish should be? If so, did you get into the water below their lie so not to give away your presence by disturbing anything that would float downstream? Did you actually see fish? If the sun was behind you, the fish saw you before you saw them. Some anglers who fish clear spring creeks have been known to crawl to where they could make a cast. I have. Stealth does count!

Presentation is a big subject. We did a review on Gary Borgers wonderful book, Presentation , which has tons of information on properly presenting a fly. How you 'present' the fly is important egardless of which type of fly you choose. Nymphs, streams and wets usually need to 'swim' and can be fished with or across the current - and at varying depths; but can also be fished upstream.

Dry flies however cannot have any line or leader pressure causing the fly to drag on the water - which produces miniature wake patterns. Natural insects don't produce wake.

How do you avoid drag? Not always easy to do. It is called, "mending" the line. Mending is done with nymphs and streamers for two reasons. With flies that should sink, the idea is to get the fly to a specific depth. With most nymphs that's very near or on the bottom. Making a half roll cast when your fly is in the water will allow the fly to sink deeper. The second reason to mend line with wet flies is to get the fly back upstream so you can fish through the same area again.

For dry flies, the mend is produced using just the tip of your rod and your wrist to keep the line and leader behind the fly. If the fly follows the line and leader there is drag. My suggestion is the next time you go out to fish, spend a few minutes practicing (there's that word again) what we call line control. You need to be able to produce a long drag-free float to have your fly be seen seen by the most fish. Many seasoned anglers prefer a longer fly rod, 10 foot, in situations where they know they have to mend line. The longer rod makes it easier to keep most of your fly line off the water.

Watch your fly or leader to make sure you know what the fly is doing. Using dry flies with a light color face or parachute will make it more visible until you get used to knowing what to look for where.

Find a fishing hat with the underside of the brim in a dark green or brown. It will reduce the glare coming off the water, and make it easier to see your fly - and the fish! While we are on headgear, do wear Polorized sun glasses if at all possible. They make seeing into the water easier, which could help you spot fish. More importantly, they might keep you from tripping on a deadhead or stepping into a hole.

Timing can be everything. A very old saying is "10% of fisherman catch 90% of the fish." Chances are those anglers are on the water early morning, maybe late afternoon and the last two hours of twilight. Mid-day is not as productive (unless it is overcast), but if it's mid-summer that's a perfect time to try terrestrials. Take the time to sit on the bank or log and watch. Be observant.

How many times did you check your fly? If you were fishing wet, (nymphs, streamers or wet flies) your hook can hit on stones, pebbles or rocks and damage the hook. Bend it, mash it, dull it, and even break it off. Never happened to me of course, but I hear there is nothing more embarrassing then getting out of the water after several hours of fishing to find out you have been fishing with a useless fly. (Even if no one is looking.) It doesn't hurt to check. Other things can happen to the fly too, like the leader wrapping around the fly or the hook, especially when your cast turns out to be less than perfect. If the fly doesn't present itself in a 'natural' way, the fish won't take it.

Sometimes you have to adjust the size and heaviness of your fly to conditions. A very sparcely tied fly barely shows up on fast or riffled water. Some flies, like the Sofa Pillow and Royal Wulff were designed for such waters. It is not always possible to exactly match the hatch. Try a variety of flies and sizes in the color and form as close to what insect is there. If that doesn't work, try an attractor pattern.

Finally, be patient. Savor the fact that you are where you are. Seize the day. Savor the fact that you are where you are, and have the priviledge to fly fish. Enjoy the journey.

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