Sunday, August 22, 2010

Arlen Thomason's BugWater

Arlen Thomason's new book, Bugwater, is excellent. Fly Fishers have long been keenly aware of the importance of "matching the hatch". Knowing the bugs that fish feed on and knowing a bit about their life cycles will greatly improve your confidence and success on the stream.

In this book Thomason provides a seasonal glimpse into the world of aquatic insects as they relate to the average trout stream. By far the value of this book is in the superb underwater photographs of the naturals. This is not to say that the text is lacking any way, but it is hard not to keep flipping ahead of the chapter you are reading to get at the next series of photos.

The series of photos at the end of the book features flies and naturals shot in a slant-tank. This trout's eye view is extremely valuable to fly designers and fishermen alike.

Check out this book for the photos, but read into it to learn more about the bugs fish feed on throughout the year. The more you know about the mayflies, midges, stoneflies, caddis, and other bugs that inhabit your local waters the more fish you will catch. This book will help you identify these insects but also informs you as to what time of year to expect the hatch.

Buy the book from our online flyshop!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Favorite fish to catch on the fly?

As my wife and I were hiking the other day she asked me "What is your favorite fish to catch on a flyrod?" I had to think about it a bit. It narrowed down quickly and ultimately ended in a draw between smallmouth bass and brown trout. Both of these fish have attractive qualities to the fly angler. Both are tremendously strong. Both can be wary enough to make you work to catch them. The more I thought about it, the harder it was to choose a winner. Hence the draw.

My annual trips to the Missouri River in central South Dakota have strengthened my love of Smallmouth Bass fishing. I look forward to fishing the structure that smallies love. Smallies can be moody- sometimes they like a slow presentation and the take will be ever so subtle. Other times they inhale your fly before you have a chance to make your first retrieve. Either way, it turns out the same after you set the hook. These fish erupt with a surge of power that is hard to find in other fish. They combine strong deep runs with high-flying acrobatics. You definitely feel connected to something very much alive.

Browns are at their best when you have to search them out. You spy the grassy bank that is just undercut enough to hold a nice fish. You watch. Sure enough a good nose emerges from under the bank to suck in a struggling hopper or PMD. After a few casts, you get it right. Tight to the bank with a good drift. The same nose emerges and your fly disappears. You set the hook. A shower of water sprays as the fish reacts to the hook set. Flashes of yellow and orange show that it is a good brown trout. The fight continues as the fish tries to entangle your line in the sticks and roots under the bank. You get the fish free of the obstacles, slowly working it into the slower water on the inside of the current. Here is the brown trout in all of it splendor. Still poised and ready to run, but you slide it into the net, admire the spots, the iridescent blue on the gill plate, unhook the fly, and return the fish to its rightful place.

I will stop waxing poetic about these quarry. It is still a tie. Maybe when I get the chance to fish for permit I will have to pause and reevaluate. Until then, what is your favorite fish to catch on the fly?