I was watching a Youtube video of Andy Burk on tying a Pyramid Lake Wooly Bugger, and he mentioned it is a good idea to grab some bottom mud and rub your flies with it to mask non-natural scents.
Later on I read an article on FAOL about scent trails and particularly that of human scent. The gist of it was that some people excrete more "L-Serine" than others from their hands and that it is a powerful fish repellent (along with bug spray, sunscreen, and some say even head cement).
I have to admit, I've been real sloppy about it. I rub on sunscreen and mosquito repellent and kinda just wash my hands off in the water and wipe them on my waders. I'm pretty sure that for an animal who can find their way upstream to where they were born using scent alone, I am putting a big nasty Exxon Valdez kinda scent trail into the water, and getting it on my flies and leaders too.
I am going to get some biodegradable unscented soap like Dr. Bronner's and carry a little bottle of it with me to wash my hands with periodically throughout the day, any time I have handled stinky stuff other than fish. I'm thinking of also scooping up some mud and water from shore and carrying it in a small container like a film can to dunk my flies in and maybe rub on my leader.
It may not help, but I can't see any way it could hurt. Do YOU do anything to mask human scent related stuff on your flies?
The "article" referenced in the first post was written by a lake fisherman, and I would assume he was talking about flies that sit static under an indicator of some sort. I suppose in that situation, a fish would have lots of time to consider a fly from several aspects, including odor. When drifting a fly on a stream, I have the same anecdotal evidence that smells make no difference: floatant, sun block, sweat, and the odors from tying materials themselves haven't stopped me from catching some awfully nice trout and bass over the years. On lakes, I use flies that are stripped and have had great success as well. In both cases, it's my opinion that fish don't have a lot of time to sniff a fly, and must make a split second decision. The size of the fly would also have a bearing on how much odor it can hold/exude, and a #18 BWO drifting past a trout isn't stink too much.
I've also seen claims that fish excrete a "fear" scent when hooked, and the fly can be tainted by this odor. I've caught trout after trout on the same fly, and none of them seemed afraid to bit. My wife and I were at Barnes&Noble last year, and she was reading a ff'ing book. As we left, she said that author warned not to get scent of any sort on a fly. She was having a bit of a dry spell as far as catching that week, and I told her not to believe everything she reads. The author said he doesn't use head varnish, etc, arguing that trout won't take such a fly: REALLY??? I'd rely on proper presentation, and an appropriate fly before worrying about scents, at least when fishing a moving fly. Static flies on a lake could be something entirely different, but I don't fly fish that way....
The "article" referenced in the first post was written by a lake fisherman, and I would assume he was talking about flies that sit static under an indicator of some sort.
No, although he does specialize in stillwater, he seldom fishes that way. He uses a variety of sinking lines and strips/retrieves the fly.
I'd rely on proper presentation, and an appropriate fly before worrying about scents
As would I. But I also don't think the scent issue is irrelevant, and in any case, washing sunscreen and repellent off my hands before touching my gear certainly won't hurt, and it might help. I see no downside to it.
...... I also don't think the scent issue is irrelevant, and in any case, washing sunscreen and repellent off my hands before touching my gear certainly won't hurt, and it might help. I see no downside to it.
I agree to the extent that I wipe sunscreen off the palms of my hands for a variety of reasons: slippery, hard to tie knots, can't stand stuff on the palm of my hands, etc. I wouldn't recommend getting anything on a fly that doesn't need to be there, but that would just seem to be the way things would occur in the course of tying on a fly.
We've all seen (I would guess) a trout rise and refuse a fly at the last second. That could be caused by the fishes curiousity, a glimpse of the angler, an odd
shaped cloud that Walter didn't see when he was a couple feet deeper... I have seen trout refuse a fly, and then take it it a second later. Fickle I'd guess, but since it's the same fly, I don't know if scent had anything to do with it. A lot of people still smoke, and tobacco odors are a nightmare to me. I've seen guys tie a fly on while puffing a Lucky Strike, so.....
P.S. The article is under the heading "Flyfishing Lakes", and the Marv says that he and his father conducted their experiment on a lake. Just sayin'...
A lot of Bass fisherman swear that a scent on their plastic baits makes a positive difference. It has been my experience that the scent products benefit the people selling them a lot more than the person using them.
With out some scientific testing over a long period of time I don't know how you would know what scent might repel or attract a fish. The scent of the soap you use to wash your hands may be worse than the human scent. I doubt that fish recognizes human scent as a danger, or any scent for that matter. I have never been careful with my scent with Trout or Bass fishing and I don't think it has had any impact on my fishing.
If anyone is going to wash the sun block off of their hands they need to be careful about washing it off the back of their hands. You need your sun block there for sure.
Because I am anal about bug spray I never have any on my hands. I developed this trait because of the sprays detrimental effect on everything it comes in contact with. I don't use sunscreen so that's not a liability. What ever my flies smell like the fish seem to like them.
I will not dismiss the idea out of hand that if you are coating your fly with something toxic a fish may avoid it. I guess this has never been a problem for me. I'll tell you this, today Chum, Humpies, and silver salmon all liked the look & smell of the Bush Doctor Spey fly that can be found in the AK. Steelhead Fly thread. My river is high and muddy but I found them and they found the fly.