Pretty much at any fly shop, “What’re they hitting?” vies for the most common of customers’ daily questions, right alongside, “Where the best fishin’ at?” And try as I might, I’m still not one of those guys who believes I can prescribe you a half dozen of the latest supposed killer and you will be instantly on your way to full recovery from what ails you. Everyone who comes into the shop knows me not as a fly person, but as a people person. Which is to say the fish you catch are a result of your own savvy and cunning. As for the fish you don’t catch, well don’t blame it on your fly.
I preach with pride that only personal skills pave the road to salvation, not the fly you use. I say, “Take me for instance, I’ve caught 90 percent of my fish on five or ten bugs.” Recently, folks are frequently making clear how FOS I am, using my own words against me.
“If flies don’t matter,” they say, “then why don’t you try catching fish on something else?”
Busted. If I need a money nymph, I fish a Double Jackal or weighted Renegade, a turd, Mercer’s micro mayfly, or Copper John. My go-to dry is a bugmeister or a Humpy or that golldang Stimulator. There’s a streamer I tie called the Tenacious D that I love to fish in rivers populated by fishkiller trout, but when I’m really in a jam, a fly called the Camobugger had better be in my box.
The answer of course, is that each of these flies has a technical feature that is irresistible to trout. A Copper John, for example, plummets to the bottom and really anchors your rig. The Humpy floats like a champ and gets fishier the more chewed it gets. The Camo has the colors, and the turd is just a ringer for a stonefly nymph in motion.
Yeah, and I’d like to sell you some swampland in Arizona. What really matters, and we all know this, is that these flies work for us as individuals, so as individuals, we keep them on the line most of the time. We can see the trout see them and imagine what goes through their minds. This imagined picture gets clearer with every fish we catch. How can they resist it? Just goes to show you, with faith, anything can be true.