In my youth, trout were my life's focus. Up until the moment I left home
I planned on doing nothing in life other than touring the nation's blue
ribbon streams and catching trout. But of course life got in the way.
Rather than fly fishing for trout I always found myself working somewhere,
usually abroad, where trout were only a distant dream. The local fish, if any,
were wierd looking and lived in water that was more a chemistry brew
than anything else.
When, in the end, I returned to the USA I landed in Texas, a well
established fishing environment, and my life and fishing finally began
to intersect again. But not fly fishing.
I picked up worming and jigging and stuff like that and I caught a lot
of fish, but unlike my youthful days on the trout streams the variety
of species that took my lures in Texas lakes was such that I almost
never knew what was going to be on the other end of the line.
Largemouth bass, white and yellow bass, drum, catfish and even
the occasional carp or gar popped up to keep me continually guessing.
But there were thieves about, known locally as bream. Those
doggone little sparrows of the water were all over my plastic
baits, nipping the tips or tails off. Sometimes they'd bite with
initial fury that invoked an excited strike on my part. Then I'd
pull back a bare hook. And worst of all they often would grab
the bait and drag it under a rock. Thus snagged, I'd lose the
The urge for revenge began to smolder.
Now, along about this time a new found fishing buddy, a life
long bass fisherman, was suddenly taking an interest in fly fishing.
As an accomplished machinist, Dave is a meticulous sort of fellow
and that was how he approached this new facet of the sport. He
quickly knew all the terminology and the names of bunches of flies,
and had learned to tie them like the pros. He now builds his own
fly rods and makes lots of nifty little tools to make these tasks easier.
His den looks like the fly shop at Cabella's. Dave is exactly the
opposite kind guy from me.
I'm kind of a hacker. Pure form never graced my casting, though
I picked up what I needed to catch a trout or two.
Most of my life I have bought cheap fiberglass rods because I'm
careless. I couldn't stand the pain of snapping a three-hundred dollar rod
in a car door, let alone the pain of spending three-hundred dollars
on a fishing pole.
And anyway, I am frequently stuck up to my gizzards in thorns and
thick brush trying to get down to water that others go around. Rods
often don't fare well in such environments, and forget about the number
of flies I've snapped off in the bushes on the way to stream's edge.
Too frugal to buy a quality line that matches my pole, I generally settle
for the prettiest color of the lines on sale. I often use straight leader
material rather than tapered leaders because by the time I've changed
my thirtieth fly for the afternoon the tapered leaders are down to a
stub and I have to tie on a tippit anyway.
And I tie my own flies as quickly as possible without paying much
attention to detail because I found out that trout hit them pretty well
whether they look real to me or not, size and color seeming more
important. And one can't be too choosy when one's materials are
scavaged from old pillow fluff and birds nests. As I said, I'm a
But one day I dusted off my rig and met Dave at the local city pond
where, while he practiced, I earnestly began exacting revenge on the
pond's population of "bream". Laughing maniacally as I dragged
them, blinking in surprise, out of the pond I passed occasional
impromptu advice on the finer points of fly casting to Dave. "You'd
better duck more on that forecast," I'd say. "You're gonna hurt
At one point he let me use his rig, for demonstrative purposes,
of course, which turned out to be a big mistake, financially.
He had a three weight carbon fiber pole decked out with the correct
fly line and a tapered leader, and I must say that I was amazed.
I could cast pretty well with this thing, and it wasn't tiring, and
the line landed more gently on the water, and good golly how
those little bream lit up that rod! Inevitably, I was going to
have to buy one of these outfits.
Well, without too much trouble Dave talked me into going to
the local Cabela's super store, where he has bought a large
number of his toys, which was an adventure in itself. I followed
him wide-eyed through the various displays of stuffed critters,
watched them feed the aquarium fish and wound up in the fly
shop where I was awe struck at the array of stuff now available.
In a rack with a big sale sign over it were a number of combo
rigs for fly fishing, among them a three-weight outfit like Dave's.
So I blew the dust off my wallet and bought it. Fly fishing has
now begun to get equal time again against the other disciplines.
I miss the trout, and we've made a few trips to Oklahoma
for them, but I've got to say that I'm enjoying the daylights
out of terrorizing the local bream populations with my
three-weight. Those little miscreants, who once mocked me
with near impunity, now flee in terror at my approach and
I have finally regained my position at the top of the food chain.
Life is good. ~ Bill Hillman