finesse


There are days when everything just clicks into place and the fishing is almost too easy… How many times have you heard of anglers describing conditions where the fish just gave themselves up? When I was a boy I recall dozens of incidents when I had to rescue fish that leapt straight into the canoe I was paddling or the boat I was rowing – before I had even cast a line!

The truth is those days are rare. There are many, many more occasions where patience and hard work result in nothing at all… the stories in the bars and pubs or around the fire afterward switch to the lengthy litany of familiar excuses and conspiracy theories. How many times have we heard about the one that got away?

Some people – and they know who they are – have an uncanny, almost freakish ability to catch fish when conditions are tough, or so-called impossible. They can do it again and again, regardless of where in the world they fish or what species their quarry may be. These sage-like individuals have learned and perfected what so many others do not: it is all about presentation.

Fish, especially trout, cannot read English – otherwise Mepps would have stopped branding their spinners, and Heddon, Rapala, and all the others would have gone out of business years ago. Fish actually can and do read infinitely better than us – their metabolism and biology dictates that they have to spend the vast majority of their time feeding in order to survive, and they must eat even more if they are to grow and thrive. At the same time, as well as feeding voraciously, they have to learn how to keep out of harm’s way. Every body of water has it’s own set of threats – from above the surface, such as fish eagles, a kingfisher or a heron, or from below it in the form of other fish or diving birds, otters, crocodiles or sharks.

This unbelievable picture is not mine - I found it on Pinterest and cannot track down the original photographer... It demonstrates the dangers faced by all small fish years before they are big enough to reach 'keeper' size

This unbelievable picture is not mine – I found it on Pinterest and cannot track down the original photographer… It demonstrates the dangers faced by all small fish years before they are big enough to reach ‘keeper’ size

Know this: By the time a fish is big enough to bite your lure or your bait, it has successfully learnt how to survive… Every single day it has sharpened its skills and added more with practise. No fish will give you the opportunity to catch it unless you completely outsmart it. You have to make it feel like your offering is the best meal ever – something worth throwing caution to the wind (water?) for!

Presentation, presentation, presentation! If you get this right, others may consider your ability to catch fish bordering on the supernatural!

Presentation, presentation, presentation! If you get this right, others may consider your ability to catch fish bordering on the supernatural!

Understanding this is what separates the true masters from the rest… Tackle choices, initial approach and complete adaptability once at the water are all affected. With this in mind, I spend a fair amount of time making tiny flies. Two weekends ago, when I posted “Singing in the rain” I described yet another example of success against all odds. I doubt I would have caught that beautiful rainbow with a large, unnatural looking fly.

Size 16, green and white embroidery thread, ring necked parakeet feathers, white size 6 uni thread tying silk.

Size 16, green and white embroidery thread, ring necked parakeet feathers, white size 6 uni thread tying silk.

Tonight’s pattern revisits my ring-necked parakeet theme, this time with a woven body in the same style and colour of the auburn fly’s body. Every wrap of thread counts, every fibre of feather is important, so that when the trout are skittish, they can examine my fly for as long as they want, before it moves away in that tantalising, mesmerising manner that triggers the take.

Go ahead, make your own flies and remember that the more refined your approach, and the more lifelike your presentation, the greater your chances will be.

Thank you for reading, please visit again soon!

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