|Flies, yes. Fish, no.|
If you read a book or hang out like one of the wallflowers in the fly shop, you know that Serious Flyfishers seem to experience glossolalia at these sort of junctures. They stand around, speaking in tongues, and getting quite animated over intricacies that most people shouldn't give a shit about. Why not? Because it doesn't have to be that hard.
The phrase match the hatch is, in my not so humble opinion, one of the most trite and over used in our sport. Its valid, sure, and its helpful, but its such a stumbling block that people think having a degree in entomology is an important part of this sport.
Its not. Just having a pair of working eyes and a few neurons that still fire is.
|I don't know or care beyond sz14 hare's ear.|
What's happening? Are there flies in the air, on the water, or in the water? The simplest approach is to see the size and colour, and pick appropriately, but let's pretend we're more into it than that.
Does it fly with grace and a plan, that's probably a mayfly then. They look stately sort of hovering along, thoraxes down and slightly bent. Without getting all touchy feely, they're very regal looking in the air, at least when compared to our next visual...
Does it flutter along like a spastic moth, darting and weaving, dancing above the water? That's probably a caddis or a stonefly. Caddis at rest have tented wings, to a peak above their bodies, stones do not. A stonefly's wings lay flat over its body.
|BWO? Maybe. Sz18 PT? Yes!|
So, now you know what's in the air. What about the fish, what are THEY doing? Slow, lazy boils on the surface? Betcha thats gonna be mayfly spinners or duns, then. Either falling to the surface or just emerging and drying their wings. If the water is a splashy rise, or the fish is coming out of the water bodily, your better bet is emerging caddis (which generally move quicker than mayflies) or diving caddis depositing eggs. Wet flies tend to work well here, because it can represent the fly emerging or diving, or just drifting, spent and happy after getting laid and droppin' her eggs.
So, now clueful and prepared with some generic flies, you can hit the water and begin to practice the art of angling. This is not the sum total of the game, you will need to know more, but you're that much more prepared to hit the water, face "the hatch" and concentrate on presentation rather than worrying that you've got it all backwards.
So, this is an opportune time to open up the LVLimestoner bookclub, eh? To be honest, when I thought about sharing the three books that made the biggest difference in my life, this wasn't on the list. Then, I realized it should be, because even though I eschew much of the knowledge, and all of the patterns, its an important building block.
Yes, I know, I've been saying specifics don't matter, now it turns contrary to that....But not quite. You don't need to focus on what a book says, and not break away. Finding personal style is very important in this, because that helps you enjoy fishing, rather than slave to the effort of fishing.
So, with that, a fine suggestion to the angler's library: Pocketguide to Pennsylvania Hatches by Charlie Meck. Let's get this out of the way, it is not an indepth, all inclusive guide to indentifying every possible thing and life stage. Its pretty basic, actually. Its name isn't a misnomer, it really is a pocket guide. Hell, I carried it around for...like, a day, once, in my pocket. Then I stopped caring and developed my highly precise method of "yea-big-bout-that-shade-fuckitgo!" hatch matchery. But I still consult it, because forearmed with knowledge can only help me out.
Its been invaluable to matching up what's happening in the air with what might be underneath. I ignore the fly patterns, because I don't care and have developed my own thoughts, but I don't ignore the general time line so I'm better prepared, nor the description of how they hatch and what hteir nymphs do.
Between my brain, my observational powers (such as they may be), and a website like Westfly.com's fly pattern pickerator, I've found myself pretty well covered for the last couple years.