Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What's in a fly?

The legendary Catskill fly fisher Edward R. Hewitt once said, "The fly is not the problem. It's what's on the other end of the line." For those of us who have fly fished the Catskills -- Hewitt's statement is pretty surprising, because the fish in those waters are extremely selective. Color, size and pattern are crucial variables. But what he was saying, as you probably surmise, is that we tend to conveniently minimize the contribution of the angler, especially when things aren't going well. Instead, we blame the fish, the fly, the wind, and whatever else can conveniently distract us from where the real power lies -- in our hands. Hewitt's statement is even more true on the Lower Laguna Madre, where the fish are not so much selective as they are uncompromising. More wary than picky, big redfish and trout alike will accept just about any fly at any time that is well presented, and reject all other offerings.  Indeed, presentation is just about everything. When we misinterpret the source of our failures by blaming the fly, our failures become mistakes from which we cannot learn. In my next installment, I will discuss fly choice as a function of angler skill and environmental conditions, not the fish's desire.

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