As a fly shop manager, guide and avid fly fisherman for Three Rivers Ranch, I get asked countless questions on how to improve the experience of fly fishing in our area and beyond. I have always loved sharing local knowledge as well as my own experiences regarding the illustrious sport of fly fishing for trout in our region. I have also loved imparting information that helps the regular traveler and the professional alike. Here are 10 ways that I have improved my own life when it comes to fly fishing. I hope these aspects expand your own experience, I know they have for me:
1) First and foremost, I think the best advice is: Think for Yourself!
I meet so many fly-fishermen and women that ask the most fundamental questions and they then start to tell me what they think. Why? Most fly fisher-people know more than they give themselves credit. You have spent countless hours doing what we all love, take that experience and build upon it. There is no “magic fly” and your knowledge of your local water is more important than any ‘shop guy’ telling you what to buy.
2) Diversity: “Have the kitchen sink” means less to a plumber than a fly fisher-person.
It is great to have many different patterns on-hand to a fly fisher as conditions, weather and picky trout make angling a rough outing now and then. Have a bunch of patterns on-hand as I
have had great success trying something completely different than what is supposedly happening at the time. Different is good!
3) Take a bit of time studying what is actually going on!
You may see what seems like a hatch some dude at the fly shop told you about. You are on the water, not that person. Take some time to really look and see and learn what may be going on right in front of you. That encapsulated space in front of you is what is first and foremost – nothing else matters at this particular time.
4) Acknowldge that some things just may not be what you have heard, seen or should be.
As mentioned above, you are the one in your waders casting to finicky trout. Try something different as this has been the best advice to myself in my career.
5) Please remember guys and gals, trout are wild animals.
I have told myself, again and again, that fish is hungry and if I get something to it, and it looks like food, they may take it readily, or they may not. I opt for readily.
6) Presentation, Presentation, Presentation:
Like the age-old saying goes with buying real estate, Location, Location, Location: Well, the same applies to fly fishing. One time I had a customer come in saying he needs grey drake patterns. I said that this is spring and the green drakes are out. We went back and forth, and I finally took a green drake
pattern and smothered it with a pink sharpie and said, “color is less important than presentation and size and silhouette.” I gave him this fly and said to come back after he worked on his presentation. He came back later that day asking for more pink drake patterns.
7) Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
Again, I can’t stress enough that having several different patterns of one fly will help your overall success.
8) Put down the cell phone, tablet, or whatever.
As a guide and a fisherman that prizes his time off, take the time to disconnect with the outside world. It will be there when you get back, trust me. Use your time off to truly take in the time you have spent getting there. Your free mind will always help in your overall experience.
9) Ask questions!
Talk to the guy next to you if his rod is bent all day and yours is not. Our fly fishing community is always willing to share information, no matter how cranky he or she may seem. Guides are your best angle on learning, absorbing and assimilating the information you are struggling with. We have been guiding at Three Rivers Ranch for over 43 years and there is no better resource than spending a day with one of our experienced guides as that information can translate to any water you are regularly fishing.
10) HAVE FUN:
Listen, we are not in this for numbers, tape measuring, and bragging rights. We are fly fishers and the best reward is coming back to camp, or the cabin or the camper with stories of how beautiful and serene the outing was. Don’t keep count! Don’t say what I experienced a couple of years ago when a customer came into the shop and yelled, “I have been fishing on the Teton for three days now, caught about 20 fish a day. Where are all the big fish at??” I said to him, ” you caught 20 or so wild fish per day, and you are upset?” People, take pleasure and fun in this beautiful sport, don’t make it a litmus test!