April 23rd, 2007

Myths and Outright Lies
By Neil M. Travis, Montana

'There's a sucker born every minute' is an oft heard quote, and anglers must be right at the top of the list. If you don't believe that just take a look at the latest fly fishing catalogues that have certainly arrived in your mail box in the last few weeks. If you are like most anglers you have spent the winter reading fly fishing magazines, fly fishing books, and drooling over the latest gadgets, flies and assorted fly fishing paraphernalia. Despite all the promises that a new _______ [insert the correct word here-rod, reel, flies, etc.] will make you a more successful angler this coming year my advice is to avoid the hype and stick with what has worked for you in the past. If you have a copy of the previous years fly fishing catalogues go back and look at all the items that were hyped in those catalogues as being a sure avenue to angling success. Now look in this years issue and make note of how many of last years must have items are no longer listed or have been replaced by a 'new and improved' model.

Let me say, without fear of rebuttal, a new rod will not make you a better caster if you have never learned how to cast correctly. It may have the latest stealth technology; it may weight less, have a thinner casting profile, and flex faster than a speeding bullet and be smoother than a baby's bottom, but it will not improve your fly casting unless you have taken the time to learn how to cast it correctly. Save your money and taking some casting lessons.

A new fly rod will not help you catch more fish, even if you are an accomplished caster. I have had the privilege of fishing with many very competent anglers over the years, and unless their rod was broken it never seemed to occupy any of their mental energy when they were fishing. What did concern them was what the fish were doing, and how to properly present their fly to them in the most natural way possible. If you are an accomplished caster with your current equipment but you are still having trouble making connection with the fish a new rod is not the solution.

Next to fly rods the second most hyped item in fly fishing catalogues and the latest angling books are flies. Each year someone has suddenly discovered a new and previously untried method of putting material on a hook that is certainly the final word in innovative fly tying. This fly is so special, so wonderful, and so irresistible to the fish that you have to hide behind the streamside bushes to tie it on your leader. Most of these flies are one year wonders; after one year you wonder where they went!

Like fly rods, more flies in your fly boxes will not make you a better angler, but will only make the problem of selecting the correct one during the height of a major hatch that much more difficult. If the flies in your boxes have produced fish before I would suggest that you do not need to improve on success.

If I were a betting man I think I could safely wager that most anglers catch 90% of their fish with a handful of flies, and that most of the flies they carry around never even get wet. Further I would be willing to wager that the flies they use consistently are the same flies they have used for years. Oh they may have tweaked them a bit from the original design, but basically they are still the same old fly they have been using for years. If you must buy the latest fish killer make certain your boxes are well stocked with those old favorites that have proven their worth over the years. I bet at the end of they day you catch more fish with them than all the new fangled patterns that have been hatched in the brains of hungry commercial fly tiers who need an edge to sell more flies.

Are fluorocarbon leaders better than nylon? Are fluorocarbon leaders less visible to fish? Will you catch more fish if you use fluorocarbon leaders? The answer may be subjective but the likely answer is no. Modern leader material, whether nylon or fluorocarbon will perform equally well, fly selection and presentation are usually the factors that determine success or failure.

Since fly-fishing has become so popular most trout waters are increasingly crowded. Given that there are only so many miles of trout streams, and we have yet to discover a method for creating more this has become a fertile field for myth and out right lies. Here are some of my favorites.

If you want to avoid the crowds on your favorite trout water try fishing off season. Exactly when is that? In my experience the only time a trout stream is not crowded is when it is either; [1] closed for the season, [2] dried up, or [3] frozen solid.

If the major trout waters are crowded try fishing smaller out of the way streams. How many of those have you encountered lately? If you find an out of the way stream that is devoid of anglers there is likely a good reason for the lack of crowds. It is either private or more likely barren of anything resembling a trout. If it is open to the public and it has trout it will have anglers.

Remember, fly-fishing is not just a recreational sport, it's an industry. Many people, advertisers, state tourist bureaus, tackle manufacturers, guides/outfitters, hotels/motels/bed and breakfasts, and a host of others have a vested interest in selling you something. They need you to buy that new gadget, come to their resort, lodge, or state, and mostly they need you to spend your money. That's great; however just remember that there are lots of myths and even out-right lies being used to separate you from your money.

Oh, by the way, if you don't believe that fellow brothers of the angle would attempt to con you, I just happen to have several acres with a trout-filled spring creek flowing though it that I would be glad to sell you for just a couple hundred dollars an acre. For a prospectus contact me and I will tell you where to wire your money! Remember, I wouldn't con you. ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona

From A Journal Archives

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice