Fly Fishing – an Improviser's Game

In interviews, we’ve often said that improvisation is one of the common denominators between fly fishing and jazz. In fly fishing as in jazz, you have to be able to adjust quickly to the ever-changing conditions and deal with unexpected challenges.

A recent example: Three days ago,  I went up to my cabin in the mountains with my little family.  Before we left, my mother-in-law had made a delicious dinner, and I must admit I ate a bit too much. Slightly intoxicated by the huge amount of food in my stomach, I managed to forget my hip-pack with all the flyboxes, leaders, tippets, etc. To make matters worse, the fish were really active up there, feeding on a good caddis hatch. Good-sized trout were jumping in the air, feasting on emerging caddis pupas.

I had no flies at all, just the rod, line and reel. What to do?

First, I did a thorough search of the cabin. No luck. The closest thing to fishing flies was my nephew’s bait hooks, size 12.

Hmmm. The hooks were about the right size… But no tying materials anywhere. If not… the carpet!

Badabing! I tied a couple of flies on the baithooks, just winding some loose threads from the carpet on to the hook shank.

Did it work? Yes it did. It really worked! Actually, I doubt that I would have caught any more fish with my “real” flies.

Now, what can we learn from this story?

Well, at least two things:

1. Don’t eat too much. It’s bad for you.

2. Trout aren’t always too picky when it comes to flies, as long as the general shape and size is OK. The way you present the fly to the fish is also very important.

One Comment

Eric Graham

Love this article! Just goes to show you don’t have to spend $3 on an Umqua Fly Fishing Fly. Why do fly fisherman get so hung up on spending $1000 for a fly fishing set up to catch 14-18″ trout? I have never been able to understand this. Thats why we sell brands like Fenwick and St. Croix at Next Ascent Outdoor and Sport.
Keep up the great articles!


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