Friday, November 15, 2019

"What Have You Learned about Fly Fishing in the Last Five Years?"

The other day I was listening to the Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast and Tom Rosenbauer was interviewing Joe Humphreys early into their banter back and forth, Tom asked a question that struck a cord in my brain.  I am paraphrasing a bit but he asked, "What have your learned about fly fishing in the last years?"

Now, for someone that is pushing 90 years old, it would be easy to assume that Joe Humphreys, who is mentally as sharp as a tack, would just have 70 or 80 some years of fly fishing knowledge all pooled up in his head but that question sparked a conversation about all the different ways that his fly fishing has changed over the past several years, the techniques, the advances in gear and his approach to different situations on the water.  That got me thinking about my own angling path.

Anyone who reads this website or follows along through social media may have noticed that I have done way less trout fishing and way more flats fishing over the past few years.  There's nothing wrong with trout.  I still enjoy it but what started as a fascination with tanker carp and smallmouth that cruise the flats near and around Beaver Island, Michigan each summer quickly turned into a fetish for all things flats which has ranged from redfish in the grass in the Lowcountry or the Louisiana marsh to bonefish and permit (who I just don't think eat flies) in places like Belize and Mexico.

Where re-discovering fiberglass fly rods flipped a new switch in my head some thirteen years ago, fly fishing the flats (wherever they may be) has done that all over again.  There were and continue to be new things to learn, how to approach different situations, new flies, simple things like how to lay out my fly line on the boat deck floor, how to lead a fish, how to listen to what the guide was saying, new gear and tackle to consider, wind (always wind), dinner plate goals with dropping the fly in the right spot, how to get through cloudy days, cleaning and re-cleaning my sunglasses and most of all, learning to enjoy the hunt.

Fly fishing the flats typically isn't about making a zillion of casts over the course of the day and it's often much more about finding a particular fish, which is hopefully on it's nose feeding, and figuring out how to present the fly to put it in the zone for an eat.  It's a trilling game and I just don't think there is anything more exciting in fly fishing that I could be doing right now.

Is it always successful?  Yes and no.  Am I learning something?  Undoubtedly, yes.  I've learned a ton over the past several years and figure that will never end.  Listening to guides, putting their suggestions into action and then just figuring out things on my own really make this a lot of fun.

Success can't always be measured with an eat and I'm finding that there is a satisfaction to quietly sliding out over the side of a panga to wade slowly within casting range of a tailing permit.  False cast, false cast and presenting a fly inches from the discerning eye of a permit only to have it slowly swim off the edge of the flat.  Feeling like I made the best possible play to a fish that continues to elude me is a large part of what keeps me going back.    

I will say however that it's weird to walk into work from a week in Belize to tell my friends (who already don't get what the fuss is about fly fishing) that I saw quite a few permit on the flats, had some shots but didn't end up catching anything.

It's a process.  It's a game.  It's all part of the hunt and what fly fishing the flats is all about.  I don't see myself getting tired of it anytime soon.   

So, what have YOU learned about fly fishing in the last five years?


Feather Chucker said...

I've learned that I'm and idiot when it comes to flies. I tied tons of different patterns I think I'll try but usually end up using the same 5 every year.

I've also learned that as much as I love fishing with others I need to take trips solo from time to time.

alan p said...

I think what I've learned is to take different fishing trips when my I needs different things. If I've had a stressful run and I just need to get away, I go hunting wild trout in the mountains. If I just need to catch a fish I go chasing largemouth and white bass in the evenings in the summer. If I need adventure I go kayaking down the river after smallmouth bass. If I need to hunt or a challenge I paddle to the back of the lake searching for tailing carp. I used to allow myself to get hooked on one kind of fishing each season and it always left me unsatisfied. Now, I pay more attention to myself and go looking for what I need.

QC transplant said...

I started fly fishing 3 years ago, so I’ve learned that I love it and I love brook trout an unreasonable amount. I grew up warmwater fishing, so my fascination with coldwater fisheries has really taken off. I’ve also learned that I really enjoy going back to places I spent years at and re-learning how to fish it with a fly rod.

Mpzimmer said...

In back to fly fishing, after a career of chasing the dollar. I've decided to chase brim.
Starting in northeast Louisiana in the oxbow lakes and working my way across the southeast.

Randall said...

Great post Cameron!

Wow, for me a lot has changed in the last five years fishing wise. Five years ago, I lived for trout and winter steelhead with the occasional surf perch and jetty fishing thrown in. Five years ago, I had no idea that I had a Tiger Musky fishery an hour from my doorstep. Fast forward to now. I drink, eat, breathe Tigers (sure, I wish I could get after true Muskies, but beggars can't be choosers)....and tying the flies that catch them. In those times when I need a break from that grind (and that's really the best way to describe it), I'll throw in the occasional trout trip or winter steelhead trip (those have basically become more of a run-my-dog trips). It's the grind of hunting muskies that keeps my head in the fly fishing game. Tying flies that I know will work, then having them not work is what keeps me going. Time is limited, and I am blessed to have this fishery within a distance where I can go out and throw a bunch of casts with 10" flies and a 10-12wt and still make it home by lunch time.

That's my (current) story, and I'm sticking to it....cheers!