Can you imagine a variation of fly fishing in which, independently of the stream and the day, with every cast you make, you're almost fully convinced it'll provoke a strike?
You get the greatest enjoyment out of fly fishing when you present a dry fly to a big trout serenely sipping duns on the surface. I believe all fly fishermen, whether they usually fish dries, nymphs, wets or streamers agree on this. Some anglers, if they don't find that trout in those conditions, will tie on a nymph. Others will use something else and many others would rather do nothing and just contemplate the scenery. They'll enjoy the peacefulness of the stream and wait until that situation or a very similar one occurs. However, on those very frequent occasions of almost complete inactivity in the stream, I tie on a dry fly and fish the water. How I do it and why I have such a great time is what I want to tell you next.
According to a popular principle, if the activity in the stream is slow, that of the fisherman must be quick, and vice versa. When you fish the water, you want an agile, vigorous pace. Learn to make false casts as you wade. It's a big advantage, but requires practice because you can unbalance your cast or, what's worse, your stance (it wouldn't be my first dunking of this type). It's funny, but, in my experience, you fall more easily when you're wading than when you're moving fast (the same as falling on your ass more often when you're walking in shallow water than when the water is near the top of your waders). If you're fishing along a rocky bank, you move better and faster by stepping from one rock to another. You need to be in shape and you notice those extra pounds when you do this kind of fishing. Fishing the water is much more exercise and quite a bit more tiring than casting to rising trout (come on, even so, read on...)
Fishing pace and casting tempo are different concepts. Often they are erroneously joined. Tempo is simply the speed with which you execute a complete cast. You can fish very fast with a very slow casting tempo, and vice versa. Tempo in this kind of fishing is chiefly conditioned by four factors:
- Wading depth
- Whether or not you're crouching
- The amount of wind (especially if you're casting into it)
- Whether or not you need a fast loop (accuracy, vegetation, etc.)
All these circumstances require you to accelerate your tempo. Actually most fly casters' tempo is too slow. Why?
Well, when you learn to cast, a fast tempo is normal. You don't give the line enough time to fully extend on the back cast. The determination and effort put into correcting this defect leads a lot of fly casters over the years to making a habit of a lazy casting tempo.
As you accelerate the tempo, you may need to lengthen your leader a few inches to keep it from whipping down on the stops. This way you'll compensate for the excess additional power (the faster you cast, the more power you apply).
Generally use dry attractor patterns. Remember that you're going to present them in all kinds of lies and feeding stations. You have to be able to see the fly very well on all casts and on all kinds of water, reflections and light intensities.
Types of imitations
Already more than 20 years ago, old Dave Whitlock, one of the most innovative American fly tiers, classified patterns in four categories:
- Suggestive: simple, almost indescribable imitations of who knows what living organisms.
- Impressionist: you can tell the type of organism it imitates: snail, nymph, adult insect, etc.
- Realistic: faithfully imitates the characteristics of the insect's shape, color, texture (sensation of rigidity or suppleness) and size.
- Exact: an accurate replica of the insect down to the smallest detail: hues, gender, eyes, morphology of the legs, etc.
Today there exists a new category. We could call it:
Clonic patterns. These flies go beyond all the limits of functionality. Even the hook is an integral part of the insect.
"One of the few absolute truths in fly fishing is that we'll never know exactly how a trout interprets an artificial fly, what it sees in it, what it notices and what it doesn't and why it takes it sometimes and other times, in the 'exact same' circumstances, rejects it."