Most of us have a really broad selection of flies in our fly boxes. In fact, some of us could use ten different flies every day of the year without using the same fly twice. So just how important is it that we get just the right fly for a given lake on a given day?
We can estimate the importance of fly selection based on how well the various fly fishers on a lake are doing. Some days, no one on the lake is catching any fish and they are obviously trying a wide variety of flies. Other days it seems that almost everyone on the lake is catching at least a few fish. Across the water, you can hear folks asking each other what they are using and almost everyone is using a different fly. In both of these cases, the selection of a fly doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. I estimate that about 80% of the time, one or the other of these cases is in effect and the importance of fly selection is minimal.
So that leaves about 20% of the fishing trips where selection of just the right fly becomes important. On these days, most folks aren’t catching any fish but you see one or two anglers that are having a lot of success. They have found the right fly and, and perhaps more importantly, they have found the right way to present that fly.
On several occasions when selection of just the right fly matters, I have watched as a successful angler gives his unsuccessful fishing buddy(s) the exact same fly. And sometimes, the results remain the same. One angler is still getting fish and the other(s) isn’t even though they are now using the same fly and fishing the same water. The only difference is in how that fly is being presented.
You might think that since the right fly is only important about 20% of the time and the right presentation is only important to a somewhat lesser degree that these factors can be ignored. I suppose they can but that 20% of the time is what separates the good anglers from the so-so anglers. If, one day out of five, you can hit 4 or 5 fish an hour when no one else is catching anything, that will amount to a lot of fish over the course of a year.
The moral of the story is to pay attention to details, especially on days when the fishing is tough. When the fishing is slow, keep changing your flies and vary how you present those flies. Try different lines, different retrieves and different locations. When and if you hit on the right combination you will start to catch fish. If no one else on the lake is yet having any success, then you can give yourself a pat on the back. It feels good when you can solve the puzzle that other knowledgeable anglers have failed to unravel.
By Ron Newman
* Ron Newman has been fly fishing rainbow trout in our province for over 30 years, during which time he has accumulated a great amount of knowledge on the subject. Along with sharing some of that knowledge on sites like ours, and through the Kamloops Fly Fishers Association of which he is a member, Ron has also documented his fishing expertise in his book Rainbow Trout Fly Fishing: A Guide for Still Waters. Check it out!
Incoming Search Terms:
- fly fishing flies
- importance of fly selection fishing
- rainbow trout flies
- where to start for fly selection