Observing and Studying Natures Fly

by Fly Fisherman

I cannot emphasize too strongly the necessity of observing and studying the insects in and on the fishing water. Not necessarily from the technical, diagnostic standpoint of an entomological student but with the idea of outward appearance in an attempt to solve the riddle of the fishes’ viewpoint. By no stretch of the imagination am I depreciating that technical knowledge. On the contrary I firmly believe that the more one knows of the aquatic life from every conceivable angle the better fly tier and better fisherman he will be. My suggestion for the beginner is to secure samples of the natural flies and nymphs from the water. Instead of chucking them in your fly box, or other container, take a moment to observe their coloration and mentally make a comparison of the insect’s color to something you can connect it with later because in a very few minutes those sparkling true colors of your captured fly will be gone. Note its natural silhouette, the length of its wings, of its tail or tails and the position in which they are naturally carried.

There is your perfect model—far superior to the finest artificial fly you could lay your hands on. While its colors are fresh in your mind construct the fly mentally, as you will later in your vise. Try to visualize it as the trout would see it. What materials do you have that will best simulate it? Can you think of other materials that might be suitable? The time involved, although precious when fishing, believe me, will be well invested if you have any intent or desire at all to build better flies and subsequently hook into more and better fish. Delve into the silt on the stream bottom, examine the tiny living creatures on the weeds growing under the surface. Carefully lift or turn over stones in the riffles. You will be astonished at the number of varied forms of live organisms you will find. This is the bread, butter, meat, potatoes and gravy diet of your fish. Eighty percent and more of the volume of the fish menu is under the surface. Were it not for the existence of these tiny creatures in the streams and lakes there would be no fish to fish for.

Many of these living forms are tied artificially as nymphs and wet flies. Many are too complicated to permit even a reasonable imitation that is effective with the materials and procedures we now use. Some day, however, some fly tier will come up with the answer.

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