The next step……   Leave a comment

Hidy Ho Good Neighbors!

Last time I talked about the systematic approach in attacking the river. We discussed reading the water, fish and bugs, and how to formulate a plan. This plan is flexible, but is always cut out of the options cloth, and not the guesses cloth. Just like one roll cast should set up the next roll cast, one drift leads to and sets up the next one. Sytematically….

Let’s break this down further and discuss just the drift. Everyone knows the 4 basic tenets of a drift: Depth, Speed, Profile, and Color. Most folks think that these are only nymph drift specific. I don’t think so, I think those 4 basic tenets apply to pretty much every type of fishing in general. Whether you’re chasing Tarpon in salt or bluegill in a pond, they are complimentary. You still have to present your offering at or above fish level (most often), at the right speed, size/profile, and color.

I can remember as a kid catching tons of bluegill on a flyrod in Arizona. My dad would drop me off at the city lake where I would spend his entire work day menacing those panfish. That 9’ rod came in real handy as I would simply reach out and dangle the fly right in front of those fish. They couldn’t resist it, especially if it was a small black wooly bugger. That was my first experience with depth, profile and color. As I learned to overhand cast that summer, I began to learn about speed as I would strip in the bugger in hopes of hooking up.

Ah, but as I learned about stripping in flies, I was also learning valuable lessons about the relationship between depth and speed, and how they can effect one another. Once I began to let the fly drop to fish depth, and strip at an appropriate cadence and speed, I began to hook small largemouth with regularity. Too fast, and I lost depth, too slow and I sunk below the feeding zone.  And as I began to make and fish my homemade bass poppers on the surface, I began to really get a taste of the importance of depth, speed, profile, and color.

So what is depth? Depth is where the fish are. Do I have to nymph fish to catch fish subsurface? Nope, you can work them over with a streamer at proper depth and speed, or if they are eating in the film, you can throw the skinny rig at them. Did just that last week. Several fish were eating dun baetis on the surface, instead of going to dries, I removed all weight, slid the indicator up to the leader/butt knot, greased the tippet sections with floatant, and turned my folks loose. We hooked and landed several fish this way because we focused on depth of the feeding fish, speed of our offering, and the proper profile and color of fly. It is akin to my first brushes with bluegill, put the fly in front of the fish.

Speed is the rate of travel of our flies. We always want them to be cruising at the proper behavioral drift or flow. Naturally. If I’m nymphing under an indicator, I want the INDICATOR travelling half of the speed of the surface water. This ensures my FLIES are traveling at the proper speeds subsurface. If I am tossing dries, I want clean, accurate drifts of proper speeds as I travel over the feeding fish. With streamers, I need to experiment with retrieves until I dial in proper speeds and feeding fish depths. Folks that streamer fish a lot, develop an inane ability to predict depth and speed without too much experimentation. It’s a thing to behold. They can “feel” depth and speed.

As for profile and color, well honestly, a lot of that is observable. Don’t wish to oversimplify here, because it is critical to success, but a rudimentary knowledge of entomology can help you dial in very quickly. However, I believe you can throw the right bugs at wrong depths and speeds and not catch fish. Conversely, you can throw the wrong flies at proper depths and speeds and still pick up a few. So, in my mind, profile and color are important, but not as much as depth and speed.  Once you master the 4 basic tenets of fly fishing, there’s no turning back.  Your game will escalate.

Used the skinny rig on this nice Eagle River Brown.

Used the skinny rig on this nice Eagle River Brown.

Well, folks, that’s it for now. Feel free to chime in with questions or comments, AND thanks for buying my latest book. It’s doing well.

Fear No Water.

 

 

 

Depth, speed, profile, color.

Depth, speed, profile, color.

Deep, dredging nymph rig earned this fine fish.

Deep, dredging nymph rig earned this fine fish.

Parachute Adams at the proper speed brought this fish up.

Parachute Adams at the proper speed brought this fish up.

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