Fishing The Shadows

by Fly Fisherman

There is a tremendous pleasure in hooking into a fish at a time when, supposedly, they’re not to be caught or at a spot which other fishermen have passed up because of its apparent lack of fish life or under conditions that others believe quite impossible. The very act or move that crowns your effort with a successful termination many times was occasioned by your doing the exact thing that you weren’t expected to do. Concentrate on out of the way pocket holes that are irksome to get at right, particularly if it’s one of those streams where a parade of fishermen has thrashed the water literally to a boil ahead of you. Keep in mind the fact that of that thrashing parade preceding you, nineteen out of twenty fished only the obvious, easily discernible, easily reached slicks and holes. I’ve watched successful, experienced fishermen deliberately overlook those evident spots, under the conditions mentioned above, and proceed to fish the tough spots only, as they worked the water.

When the sun is shining brightly, and in your maneuvering about, a shadow of yourself, your rod, sometimes even your leader and fly passes over a prospective pocket and you may as well waste little time attempting to work that spot. All but small or foolish trout are gone or downed for the time. As a youngster I was instructed, and believed for many years, that one, to prevent shadows ahead of you, should keep the sun in one’s face. This made the surface of the water, at most angles of the sun, a confusing, flashing, moving glare which was unpleasant and difficult to penetrate in looking into the water. Later I found that there was distinctly a greater advantage, by being a bit more cautious with shadows, in keeping the sun at one’s back—actually reversing my early training. For one reason, the fish looking in your direction would be facing the sun and objects within their vision would take on a fuzzy glare, tending to blind them somewhat, in that direction. The fisherman, too, is able to easily see down into the water ahead of him and determine the method he will use and the spot in which to place his lure.

In casting your fly over a fish there is less likelihood of the shadow of fly or leader passing over the fish—the shadows are between the fish and you and a little care in casting will keep them there. Early day and late day shadows are long and sweeping. This is the time to get on the other side of the stream.
It probably goes without saying that the reader is more or less modern as it pertains to fishing clothing, hats, caps, etc. At one time, not too many years ago, it was considered proper to appear on the stream in a white shirt, a linen collar and either a bow or four-in-hand tie that matched the ensemble. Were it cool enough for a coat, your suit coat was the correct garment. This clothing didn’t have to be your best, it could very well be everyday garments if they were clean and presentable.

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