In the lodge there was not much to do when working, my job was to sell fishing tickets and give advice - and let me tell you something, when you fish the same water every day, with all the best anglers, and your job is to give fishing advice, then you become pretty bloody good! It's a job which I held for over a decade, even during further education and then, later, travelling to New Zealand for the "other summers", and I would fish each and every day without fail - I've always been a bit obsessed!
There was one book in the lodge that I ended up reading many times - it was "Boat Fishing for Trout" by Steve Parton. The methods in the book were very different to the methods that I was fishing at the time, and often involved fishing deep, "Northampton Style" (on the rudder) and I was inspired to build a rudder myself and try out the methods. I never really got anywhere close to mastering it, but it was an interesting exercise and I later went out of my way to meet Steve. In subsequent years we taught children together and he even wrote a section on Sexyloops which you can find here: http://www.sexyloops.com/sparton/ Unfortunately Steve passed away some years ago. :(
The reason for this long introduction, is that are two very significant phrases used in the book, both coined by Steve, both of which had a great influence on my approach to fly fishing and still do. The first is that fly fishing is about "Organised Impatience" - I love this phrase. It's the exact opposite to what every non-fisher believes is required for fishing - countless times we've all heard a non-angler say, "oh I don't have the patience for fishing!" Which is curious because I think it's true to say that the most successful anglers I know are impatient and it's the organising of this impatience that gives consistency in results, particularly in the Stillwater game where there are so many possible methods, locations and angles of attack, all to try.
Steve used to say that a stopped clock is only right twice each day, so when something stops working then change it and keep changing it until it works. I'm a huge believer in this too; ringing the changes and continuing to ring the changes, in a structured way, is how to organise your Stillwater trout fishing. Sometimes, in fact often, getting means working for them.
The other phrase of Steve's that really sums up my approach to fly fishing, is "Sequencing". Sequencing is where having caught one fish, by immediately duplicating the method in exactly the same way, many more fish can be caught in a short time period. There is no time to be wasted; fish switch on for short periods of time, and once you've worked out how to catch one it's desperately important to fish hard to try to catch them all and as quickly as possible, because at any moment they can change behaviour or switch off completely (and possibly for the rest of the day!).
I don't fish for stillwater for trout very often nowadays - although I'll always have a soft spot for fishing wind lanes. When I first started teaching fly fishing on Ardleigh Reservoir back in 1996, I wrote a small guide to Stillwater fishing that I called "A Beginner's Guide to Stillwater Trout Angling (including some advanced thinking)", nowadays knowing what I know now about marketing I think it would have been best called the "Essential Guide". Looking back I'm not really sure what the advanced thinking parts were!! Anyway the entire booklet including various errors that we - or at least I - believed were true back then can be found here: http://www.sexyloops.com/stillwater/index.shtml These methods work well all over the world where I've Stillwater Trout fished since - and have been particularly good in both Tasmania and Montana.