Lighter Side

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September 17th, 2001

PADRE'S Report to the Church Of The Significant Rise Form (COTSRF) Congregation
By Don Ingle

Father Don offers a COTSRF Homily about keeping an eye on things in life

Father Don

There's a whole lot of squinting going on amongst fly fishers these late summer days.

If they are not fishing grasshopper patterns, crickets, or flinging a stimulator or white caddis, they are turning to midges. That's when the squinting begins.

Now you can tell at a glance what eye is the dominant eye of the squinter -- right or left. Your Padre, being a southpaw, is a right-eye squinter, the open left eye being my choice for achieving the "Popeye" look.

Most anglers will be left eye squinters, since there are more right-handed anglers than southpaws.

There's a reason for this squinting. If you are fishing midge patterns, you will be doing some squinting as you try to poke a fine leader tippet through the even finer ring eyes of a midge fly. These flies generally run in sizes from #18 down to the near-invisible #26-28 sizes.

Midges can be defined two ways. First, the true midge is a member of a class of two-winged flies called Diptera. The mosquito and the gnat are examples of this class. After the sizzle of late July and early August, these little biting, annoying bugs hatched out big time, especially with the high humidity or the small spot rains that hit here and there.

Midges can also be applied to a whole bunch of unrelated, smaller aquatic insects that have in common their size small enough to evoke a whole lot of squinting as anglers make their umpteenth stab at getting the tippet through the eye ring.

One thing is clear -- tying down to these sizes call for some nimble fingers. This fumble-fingered tier usually begins to vent my frustration once I get below a size #20 hook. At a younger stage of life, before bi-focals began to cover my baby blues, I was proud to be able to tie down to #24's and even a few #26 midges. These days I buy them in those sizes -- or make do with the #18's and #20's I can still manage to tie without them looking like something I trapped under the kitchen sink.

When the major summer mayfly hatches have waned, and the magical white fly has not yet appeared, it is the tiny midge that may get the most constant and reliable action aside from 'hoppers and crickets.

There is also a small mayfly lumped in with midges because of its diminutive size. It may get some angler attention in the early morning hours. This is the trico, a blackish fly with the white wings. It can also cause the squint to appear. Getting up to fish from dawn to about an hour or so after sunup is often the best time to catch this hatch. Sometimes getting any eye wide open this early is a challenge.

There are several midge "suggestor" patterns that are worth a mention. These flies suggest a midge to a lurking trout. One of these was first tied by a guide for Trout Unlimited founder George Griffith and is called the Griffith's Gnat. It suggests a midge, or a cluster of midges.

A simple pattern, it has proved a valuable one for anglers in local waters like the Au Sable, Manistee, Boardman and Little Manistee.

Now squinting can be an art.

Like shooting a rifle with a scope, the squint helps concentrate all the focus of your best eye on that elusive hook eye target. As in making a shot with the rifle, the squinter needs to line up the tippet and fly ring eye, take in a deep breath, let a little out and hold it steady. Then you make the stab of tippet to hole.

(Remember that after first dozen tries you may be inclined to utter certain Anglo-Saxon epitaphs that are against the law to say in public if there are women and children present. Patience is more than a virtue -- it can keep you out of the slammer!)

Now the Orvis Company makes a little device that you can use to thread fly leaders into hooks without the need for squinting or illegal utterances. These are, of course, for wimps and wussies. Real men squint.

If you see someone on a trout stream scrunching one eye closed, he or she is no doubt midge fishing. This wise bit of advice should be heeded in this case:


Here Endeth The Homily -- Go Forth and Fish Some More.

(Copyright 2001 by Don Ingle)

Meet the Padre

The Padre, a.k.a. Fr. Don pictured at the top of this article doing the "get-the-leader-through- the-eye-of-the-fly-squint" is Don Ingle, an award winning outdoor writer for the Traverse City Record-Eagle and editor of Michigan Forests.

Don is a founding member of the Trout Bum Bar-B-Q, and also founded the Church of the Significant Rise Form (COTSRF), a non-religious order (some might say "disorder") of flyfishers whose motto is Sic Semper via Hexagenia Possessius ("Thus always possessed by the Hexagenia.")

Don and wife Jean live in Baldwin, Michigan near the Pere Marquette, sharing their home with Socrates, a 90-pound red Labrador retriever who fetches downed grouse for Don on those rare occasions when he hits one.

Credits: Previously published on the Trout Bums website. We thank Steve Southard for sharing it with us.

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