Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Minimalist

Today's fly fishermen are fortunate enough to have a wealth of fly fishing information at their disposal. Every life cycle of every bug is well represented with a myriad of flies and patterns. When I lived in Montana, it became an all consuming task to not only have a couple dozen fly boxes full of hundreds of patterns, but to try and remember what all these patterns were and what bug they represented.  I would switch out whichever boxes I "needed" seasonally to accommodate the multiple hatches throughout any given day.  I felt like a pack mule on the Oregon Trail.  This is "technical fly fishing".  It is based in a deep knowledge, understanding, and love affair with thick entomology books, Latin, and long spells sitting at the vise or hanging around fly shops.  I hate it.
I evolved slowly while I lived out west.  I started out as a "techie".  I wanted to experience every hatch the west had to offer and test my technical skills on difficult rivers like the Missouri.  Twelve foot leaders of 6X, hatches of minuscule insects, and trout with PhDs sipping in slow back eddies was the norm. It was difficult to fool a fish in these conditions and when you did, you felt like you truly achieved something.  But I slowly became assimilated into the Montana culture.  That means you relax.  You chill out. You can speak all the Latin you want, but "IPA or Amber?" is a more effective form of communication.  I began fishing large streamers and big attractor stonefly patterns and forgot about every little detail needed to fish a sulphur hatch.  I tied on 2X and double hauled brightly colored rabbit fur behind boulders and into log jams and fell in love with the flash of a darting fish way more than a slurp of a size 24 dry.   I noticed my fish caught to stress ratio changed significantly.  I became a happier fisherman when I stopped sweating the all the technical mumbo jumbo and just tried to get big fish to eat. The other day I was out fishing with my sons and we never changed our Goddard Caddis.  We caught fish and saw other's rising which passed on the Goddard, but we were having more fun wading in the water than anything else.

I don't carry 12 boxes anymore.  In fact, I carry just three.  One dry, one nymph, one wet.  If I don't have the "perfect" fly the fish are rising to then I'll just accept that as a challenge and swing a wet fly in front of him. There is just something to be said for simplicity.