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Ronan's report

Wednesday 27 November, 2013

Joan Wulff once said: “If you don’t know where the fish lie but can cast well enough to cover all the water with finesse, you are likely to solve the mystery and catch fish. If you know where they lie but can neither reach them or present the fly naturally, you are not even in the game.”

When first reading this many years ago, I thought it to be very well said. Today I think, it doesn't match too well with quite some of my experience in true fly fishing.

During the past 20 years I have been fly fishing with well over 2000 fly fishermen. Many great casters inbetween. When it came to "solving the mystery" (or "cracking the code") to successfully (and constantly) catch the fish, it rarely was proper fly casting, but changing strategies many times (and keep learning), which the (very few) best fly fishermen did.

In fact 95% of all fly fishermen I have been fishing with, mostly were fishing just one strategy all day long. Some times they caught fish and often they didn't.

A perfect example is a Danish DVD about coastal fly fishing for sea trout "Sea Trout Secrets". A great DVD - lots of good hints in it! The team behind that DVD positioned underwater cameras in their fishing spot to prove, that the fly fisherman in the movie was fishing within many Sea trouts close by, but not getting a single fish to take his fly. Great stuff of course. It's just that I personally believe, I would have had a different strategy to indeed catch at least a few of those fish. I have been in such situations many times. But it (to me) never was about believing those fish to be around the fly or not, but simply cracking the code HOW to get them to take my fly (for whatever reason). Yet, I always found a proper strategy in the end. Yes, sometimes it took me years and changing my strategy many times!

The best training I had, was fishing with all my students, who often had pretty different ways of presenting their fly to the (often same) fish. But again most of them mainly had just one strategy. And that was independent of how high their level of fly casting were.

Many fly fishermen seem to think there wouldn't be a need to change the strategy when catching a hell lot of fish. I personally think, it's exacly then, when changing the strategy will make you learn a hell lot! Why? Because it's exactly then, when you know the fish are in a striking mood based on at least one strategy. A perfect learning situation!

Back to the quote mentioned above, I have been in many fishing situations, in which we indeed couldn't reach the fish based on not being able to hit the distance. Mostly (not always) it was just a question of time, when at least some fish came close enough. Then it was still (often a none easy to answer) question of HOW to provoke a strike. I believe, that a high level in strategies is much more worth than a high level in fly casting when it comes to catching the fish. Still all this does not mean to disagree with Joan here and of course it's just my own experience. I'd like to hear about yours!

All my best


p.s.: Hey Paul, fly boxes are filled up? ;)

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