Finding joy in the outdoors since 1988
Time is short with kids and the business of family life. I love to fish. This means I have to creatively tuck away time on the water when I can. I’m that guy wading the stream and showing up to the lake generally 30 minutes before everyone else. Not because I don't like sleeping in on my weekends, it's just the only time I may get. I fish away my 4-5 hours by 10 o’clock. This means I usually game plan what flies I might use, how long I’m going to swing the pattern before switching etc… I do what I can without stiffing my family out of too much time. This weekend was beautiful, the water was clear and warm enough to wet wade, reeds swaying in the current and fish sipping film lodged bugs around me. I reached for my number one bugger store-bought and perfect to a “T”. I got nothing.
After scrolling the box and exhausting a few of the nice patterns that looked good to me I decided to grab one of my less than perfect buggers. It was an olive color, the hackle was long and didn’t reach up very close to the eye, it had a bronze craft bead that whistled by on my back casts… a genuine purist "scoff-worthy" type of fly. 4-5 casts later I hooked up with a decent little rock bass, laughed to myself and kept flinging that olive bugger on through the next 7 rock bass. My un-proportional poor-man material fly definitely was outperforming the “perfect” fly you pay for at the store. Maybe it was the longer tail, maybe I just willed it to catch more fish.
I hiked over to a spot I had never been to and knew not many if any at all had ever fished there. Let me put it this way; it’s a good thing I’m not allergic to poison ivy. I climb in silently and pull some line out, cast here and there probing logs and the tail of pool downstream. I notice an old oak barely hanging onto the bank and leaking it’s tangled roots down into the water, there had to be somebody home. I slowly drift my olive ugly bugger past and twitch gently to grab some attention and then I feel the take. The next 3-4 minutes were spent doing battle with possibly the largest smallmouth I had ever caught on the fly rod. My day was made on this homely little woolly bugger. Check him out.
I don’t believe you need a perfect fly to catch fish, I just don’t. It’s great to learn new patterns and try them out, make them yours, mix techniques from different patterns, but I don’t have to follow a recipe exactly to get a fish catching pattern. In fact I have to say that most may gawk at my flies but I haven’t noticed a difference in success using top of the line flies or my mediocre creations.
What do you guys think? Maybe I’m just missing all the sophisticated brand name only fish?
Robbie is the creator of WF and loves to spend time in the outdoors chasing steelhead, upland birds, and the beauty of nature.