~By Bob Wyatt
Trout fishing is always a bit of a lottery. That is, life intrudes. You choose to go fishing when you can go fishing. So, when you have your days planned, or just take them when you can get away, there’s no guarantee that things will be easy, or go your way. It can all go pear shaped. The thing is, these fishing days are precious, so we can’t waste them.
One way to waste a fishing day is to be unprepared. There are plenty of ways to be unprepared. No flies, for instance. I know, you have hundreds of them. I mean the flies you will need, on that water, on that day, of that season. I’m looking at my dry fly box right now, hundreds of just what I need if there’s a mayfly hatch - which there damn well is supposed to be now on my favourite streams, right now.
A good brownie puts a bend in Wyatt’s Epic 690C, his favourite outfit for big nymphs and streamers.
But, at the moment, there are no mayflies. Or damn few of them. Not enough to get the trout going at any rate. What I need are nymphs and streamers. At the moment, until those damn mayflies show up, swinging big rubber-legged nymphs and streamers is about as productive a tactic as anything. I have a sparse and unorganised collection of odds and ends in both nymph boxes, and a few woolly bugger/streamerish type of thing here and there, but really it’s a pretty poor show. So, note to self: get tying.
Another thing to prepare for is weather – wind and high water. The back end of the season means my 6wt rod is rarely out of my hand. It’s the ideal tool for these medium to large streams, and makes handling wind a snap. With a longish belly floater, all the spey type casts are managed comfortably, to the point the rod and line just become kind of transparent. I don’t even think about casting, this outfit just does it. It gets rather Zen out there at times.
On a tough day, one nice fish is exactly 100% better than no fish. The right outfit and flies, and knowing how to use them in any situation, is all part of being prepared.
Superb tackle is a joy in itself, no question, but its sometime easy to think that just owning expert level stuff puts us into the expert category. I mean, we look pretty damn expert out there, right? It’s out there on the river, faced with one of the myriad problems to solve, that we are made aware of our limitations. Casting is job one. The first problem we face is placing our line and fly where we want it to go. The couple of hours of lawn casting, busting out those 70 footers, might not have helped much to make that tricky cast under the willows on the far bank, across that bit of fast water into that almost still eddy, with all that pesky brush behind us.
Over the past couple of years, when giving a beginner some casting advice, I’ve been putting less emphasis on the classic overhead cast, and more into practicing the several rod loading moves used in single handed spey casting. Once a new caster gets the idea of line tension and loop formation, and gains confidence in casting through different planes, creating the D-loop for a roll cast, the finer points of loop formation and style come easily. These are loading moves you will use in the countless not so classic situations you find yourself in on the water.
Casting large, weighted nymphs and streamers is a case in point. You really want to have a good set of spey type moves when handling these lures, especially in a wind - in your face, from either side, or from behind. Wind is actually dangerous when trying to get a big tungsten eyed streamer out to fifty or sixty feet. And short casts are often more dangerous, when there is less line inertia and you tend to thrash to get things moving.
This is the main reason I prefer the 690C for early and late season work. There might be a hatch of size 16 mayflies, but the 6wt outfit is no handicap at all. My 590C I use mid-season for delicate low water presentation work. If its windy, which it normally is, and things call for throwing a size 2 streamer, the 690C is just what the doctor ordered. So, more and more it’s my go to outfit, throughout the season. No matter what the conditions, or whatever flies or tactics I need, I’m prepared.
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Fly Fishing Emergers. A semi-sunk fly projects more visible stimulus than a high and dry pattern, so it makes a lot of sense to use a design that penetrates the surface film as a ‘searching pattern’, rather than the high-riding flies usually recommended for this job like the Royal Wulff, Humpy or Elk Hair Caddis. For me, the old dry hackle jobs have been moved well down the bench, even for fast broken water.