Throughout history, Fly Fishing has remained the peak of the angler’s art. Other weapons of attack on dwellers of lake and stream and ocean may come and go, but when a man has tried every one, if he is a philosopher at all, he will come back to the fly rod. For the light wand offers other inducement than merely winning the physical fight with wily trout or rambunctious bass or some hard hitting denizen of the seas. The greatest enjoyment derived from the use of the fly rod is not necessarily the fish caught—though it is my contention that, given reasonably good fly fishing conditions, the fly rod will outfish any other rod—the greatest satisfaction lies, rather, in the performance of the cast, the dexterous use of the entire equipment, rod, line, leader and fly.
No other method of fishing gives the angler the same pleasure from a well delivered cast, or from watching the leader turn over out there at the end of the forward throw, dropping the fly gently upon the dish-calm surface of a pool. Or the thrill of laying out a long line into a stiff breeze. Or of seeing line and leader follow the direction of the rod and curve around to right
or left, as the case may be, the better to light in just the pinpoith spot necessary to get a strike.
There is great challenge to floating a fly over a trout that is rising in a difficult place. To get a hit from such a fish, the fly must go over his position at the right speed, neither faster nor slower than the naturals drifting beside it, nor shifting sideways, but right down the groove, looking smart and unsuspect and very much like some real life food he might expect to see floating over him.
The satisfaction an angler derives from fooling a distrustful trout is one of the things that make fly fishing. As is the lift he gets when a small mouth black bass whops his popping bug, thoroughly convinced that it is a real, live frog; or just plain mad enough to want to knock that annoying thing for a loop. And the solid thump of a fish hitting a streamer, be it in lake or stream or salt, telling the angler that the lure has gone through the water as he intended, looking just like something that fish wants to eat.
In no other branch of fishing is there this same direct, blow to blow contact with the fish, a personal contact that is maintained throughout the fight. For though the long, light rod, dipping and bobbing with every twist and turn of the fish will tire that Junket quicker than either plug rod or spinning rod, nevertheless the fly fisherman makes or breaks his own game by the way he handles the line coming from the reel, and by the amount of pressure he puts on the slender leader tippet, which is, of course, the weakest pan of fly fishing equipment.
Unfortunately there has been a tendency among writers to make fly fishing sound difficult and thus many a would-be fly man has been diverted from this most satisfactory sport. The purpose of this book is to show that with a little practice, fly fishing is, not easy, but quickly learned, and that once learned it pays dividends such as no other type of fishing can offer, If I stray sometimes from the old rule of thumb methods it is because I believe that like everything else, fly fishing changes. The day is past when young ladies learned to walk with a book balanced on their heads and fishermen learned to fly cast with one tucked under their arm. Today’s fly man is free of arm and free of hand. His free arm casts are efficient and he takes his light fly rod where an old timer never dared.
Fly fishing was originally limited almost entirely to trout and salmon waters and most of the lore of fly fishing originates in these two species, but today the lover of the light wand carries it into all types of water. The sunnies and the basses were long since added to the trouts and salmons, and more recently fly rod enthusiasts have moved into the salt. Although to a degree it had been practiced by a few hardy adventurers for a long time, salt water fly fishing has come into its own only in the past seven years. But in that time the tide has risen steadily until now fly fishermen the world over are throwing flies in many oceans and along countless beaches, bays and lagoons.
The salt water fish definitely have it all over their sweet water cousins when it comes to putting up a fight, and there are innumerable species on which the angler may test his skill. Of course there are limits to the capacity of fly fishing equipment. There are salty scrappers which will strike a fly but which are just too big for a fly fishing outfit. Tarpon of 200 pounds have struck my two-inch-long streamer and stayed hooked for various lengths of time, mostly very short. But any tarpon over 8o pounds cannot reasonably be considered a fly rod fish. Yet so spectacular are these giant silver warriors that you miss a bet by not casting to them, seeing the strike and watching the tremendous leaps they make before they fray through the leader or snap it, or throw the hook. Its thunderous, tumultuous, aweinspiring—but—thanks for the memory!
Other chargers of the seven seas have one or another attribute to make the heart jump, either great speed, phenomenal leaping ability, or tremendous power.
The bonefish and permit, those flashing streaks of silver lead the shallow water speedsters by a city block, while the high-jumping ladyfish and dolphin will be remembered for their contortions for a long time. Found along both the east and west coasts of the United States is another game fish that might have been especially designed for the fly man’s pleasure—the striped bass. A great surface hitter to a popping bug, the big “bull” striper provides thrills no end when he swirls under and finally socks the angler’s offering, and the ensuing fight will strain the fly tackle to the utmost.But salt water fly fishermen have proven that the fine tackle can take it and anglers who used to look askance at anything
over to pounds as being too heavy for their way of angling will now tackle the biggest fish they can coax into a strike. It doesn’t mean that they expect to land one of those giants (though secretly they always hope to do so) but it does mean that they want to be in on the soul shocking hit, see the acrobatic antics of a high jumping powerhouse, and watch the line melt from the reel as a silver rocket flashes across a shallow flat, headed pell- mell for the deep.
Throughout this blog I will attempt to give the dope on those species of fish most commonly sought by fly fishermen— when, where and how to fish for them, what to use and how to use it, and to supply any other special knowledge I have picked up during years of fly fishing.