Make The Most Of Your Fishing Trip
Note: This blog installment is from pro-staffer Phil Sgamma.
June has brought the always anticipated dry-fly fishing to the Henry's Fork and surrounding fisheries in Eastern Idaho and Montana. A meager snowpack this year put the salmonflies into play right after the Memorial Day drenching, with goldens and drakes to follow as the summer unfolds.
The Madison River's also on the cusp of big-bug mania, and rubber-leg nymphing's perfect right now as these Happy Meals on legs migrate to shore for emergence. All you dry-flyers and bobber-nymph guys can have a ball. Come on out.
Before you do, I have a few items of advice to hopefully help you truly enjoy your trip and experience.
Before you make that trip to these fabled western fly fisheries, take the time to learn the fundamentals of line control, line management and how to single-haul or double-haul the fly line. I mean this with no disrespect.
If you're spending the time and money to go fishing with a guide or indulge in a destination vacation, reward yourself by being able to land those bigger, smarter, wilier fish that'll only come to the net with careful line control, before and after the hookup.
I swear to the almighty hog in the sky: Line control is everything. With it, you can entice the eat, then achieve an efficient hookset, then control the slack, tension and flex of your rod to bring that fish in.
I see the big ones get away too frequently due simply to line control. If your fishing time's limited, or even a rare treat, these skills are still something you can work on in the backyard for a few minutes, or on a local stream or pond.
Explore YouTube for great instruction on double-hauling, fly-casting, roll-casting and more. Just punch in "how to" and add the technique you want to study. Watching and learning from these videos may be another great tool to get you thinking. Watching a more skilled angler can also be very educational.
If you wait for your guide to try to teach you some of these things after you just missed a big eat, it's enough to make your head explode. It's sensory overload, seriously. Not to mention the scenery's usually spectacular, which creates even more overstimulation. You can only remember six things at once, or so they say.
The 60-foot cast isn't needed on trips here. Present the fly as best you can, whether it's drag-free, on a swing, stripped, whatever.
One you hook up, immediately get control of the situation by getting that fly line to ground zero – into your casting hand's cradled finger, whichever digit works for you. This is where you go to control your slack and mending.
Your place in the space-time continuum lets your dexterity hunt the union – that point where your off-hand meets your control hand to establish domination during a fight.
In order to get a hookup, though, you need to fish right. As you mend on the drag-free presentation, dry or nymphing, continually observe your fly/bobber and your fly-line and leader, on the water, and the relationship between these three parts of the presentation. How's the fly, leader and fly line moving and drifting on the water to make the presentation look plausible? What can you do to improve that situation.
Mending, taking in slack - tip up or tip down – careful observation of currents affecting all part of the fly line. This requires active vision.
It's essential that you move your vision continuously from the fly, to the line/leader, then back, and assess the effect of what your line/leader is doing to your fly. Does it look as real as possible?
If you're not paying attention to the intrinsic relationship between fly/leader/line, the presentation won't be convincing. Make that fly look like it's not attached to mono or you won't even get a chance to miss the fish of a lifetime. That fish won't eat because the micro drag and anticipatory key mending isn't happening and that fish won't be fooled.
Pay attention to the three different things every 2 seconds and then do it again.
On a final note, no BS: I don't care if you're Joan Lefty Whitlocke Skips flyshop endorsed, nobody starts casting with slack in their line all over the water like a junk show.
Anyway, think about all that.
Start slowly, practice slowly to get the nerve/muscle link-up, and work on those skills. Always be thinking: What am I going to do next once that fly's eaten? What's my next move? Go over it in your sleep.
If I may borrow from my baseball days, think: What am I going to do when the ball's hit to me. Every pitch, that was going through my head back then. Every drift today, it still is.
Phil Sgamma, who calls himself a "full-time explorer," is a Montana outfitter, Idaho trout guide and entrepreneur. He works and plays hard, fueled by an elemental mission to keep a smile on his face. Trip info and fishing/hatch updates, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org call him at (406) 539-4239 for.
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