Looking back over the last two plus years since my fly fishing journey began, I have been reflecting on who and what has contributed to my success (sometimes lack thereof) as an aspiring fly angler, but also looking forward to what may challenge my resolve in the future.
Since this obsession began a little more than two years ago, I have found a multitude of trout, whitefish, squawfish, steelhead and a small handful of salmon at the other end of my line. Some might say that I’m obsessed, others might say I’m psychotic, and still others may say I don’t fish enough. I think I’m somewhere to the latter, but the first two still apply.
Lately, this mind boggling activity that we call fly fishing, has somewhat confounded me. By some strange index of events has thrust me back to basics. Six months ago, if anyone asked me if you could have 5 flies in your fly box what would they be? My answer then would be very different from what it is now. I think, most importantly, the single biggest lesson learned is… Whatever fly you fish, fish it with confidence, because it will always catch more fish. Which brings me to my actual post.
A Renewed Hope:
Getting back to basics seems to be a difficult feat for some more than others. For me, it was kinda natural, since well, I’ve not been at this for very long, and well, it seemed I skipped a few steps along the way.
Let’s start off defining the basics. What are basics? By definition, basics are a statement of fundamental facts or principles. So, what are fly fishing basics? Learning to tie a set of knots, because without those, we can’t connect backing to the reel, fly line to backing, leader to fly line, and fly to leader. Gripping the fly rod. If you can’t hold it , you can’t cast it. Casting a fly line. By relation, if you can’t cast it, you ain’t gonna catch no fish. Surprisingly enough, I have mastered that set of basics fairly well. Moving on, so now we get into fly selection dry fly, wet fly, nymph and streamer. I suppose, streamer could be technically considered wet fly, but I give them their own classification. This seems to be where something got missed. Here in this part of Oregon, you don’t see very many people fishing streamer type flies for trout. Steelhead, sure, I see a quarter of a chicken and somewhere around a half of a rabbit getting tossed around all the time and sometimes, all tied to a single hook. But not so much here for trout. They are primarily bug eaters, or so I’m told. And in some cases that holds true. However, there seems to be somewhat of a discrepancy in what I’m told.
Over the last month and a half or so, I have been reintroduced to an old but yet very effective streamer.
Yes, the woolly bugger. Some marabou, flash, chenille, palmered hackle, and bead head all lashed to a 3x long streamer hook. Simple, basic, but yet deadly effective. These critters have earned a permanent place in my fly box, and rightfully so.
So, how does one go about fishing a woolly bugger? There is no real wrong answer here other than leaving it at home when you’re out fishing. Strip, and rip? Yep that works. Dead drift? Uh-huh. Swing? Oh yeah! On the surface? Getting one to float with a tungsten bead, might be a bit of an issue, but why not? Using a sink tip? That’ll get it down and it works. Dry line? Sure works well in low water that way. So, Dave, what have you caught on said woolly bugger? Now THAT is the million dollar question. Since October 29, 2011, 8 summer steelhead (5 of those on 12/10/11), the largest being around the 15lb mark (first fish ever on woolly bugger), a multitude of trout cutts and bows, and whitefish. Yes even the whiteys will give chase.
Looking toward 2012 with renewed confidence, and armed with a very versatile and effective fly in my arsenal. Look out fish! I’m coming for ya!