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Old 07-19-2007, 10:31 AM
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Default Choosing Proper Fly is Key to Success

Choosing Proper Fly is Key to Success

One of the most important aspects in successful fly-fishing is the selection of the proper fly. If you are fishing an imitation of the food source that the fish are keying on, you stand a good chance of success.

As anglers, we often start by using whatever fly is still attached to the leader from our last trip to the river. How long ago was that? Was it yesterday or two months ago? The best way to determine which fly to use is by observation.

I begin on my walk to the stream. As I pass my fellow anglers, I ask them if they are catching any fish and, if so, what flies they are using. If they are not having any success, I do not want to follow their lead. If they are having success and I am unfamiliar with the fly, I ask to see it so I can come as close as possible to imitating it.

Generally, fly fishers are more than willing to share their success, particularly if they tied the flies themselves. The only thing more rewarding than catching a fish on a fly you tied is to have others do the same with your creation.

I also carefully observe the stream. I look for fish activity on the surface. Are there any hatches of aquatic insects or wind blown terrestrials? I look for flashes on the stream bottom that might indicate that fish are actively nymphing. I turn over rocks looking for nymphs. The most numerous or the most active are my first choices. I then try to match them to flies in my boxes.

They are matched according to size, shape and color. Size is the most important factor. If you have the right size but the wrong color fly, fish it instead of the right color but wrong size fly. Fish tend to key into a particular size. By shape, I mean the form of the fly. Does it mimic the shape of a particular insect? Does it have the wing pad or tail of a mayfly nymph?

Color can be very important at times. During the Big Spring caddis hatch, the dominant insects have a bright, insect-green abdomen. That is easily seen by the trout. During this hatch, virtually any fly in the right size and color is incredibly effective.

[img2="left"][/img2] Observing the adult form of aquatic insects can be a bit tricky at times. You have to catch one. It is frequently easier to pluck a mayfly or caddis fly from the surface of the water than to capture one in flight. When you do obtain one, turn it over and match the bottom. The trout are in the water looking up at the bottom of the insect. Insects are frequently different colors on the bottom and the top.

Finally, I observe what the fish actually are feeding on. To do this, I have to catch a fish. This is frequently the hardest part, but I can usually scam one up somehow.

Then, I pump its stomach. A stomach pump resembles a bulb baster like mom uses on the turkey. It has a rubber bulb on the end and a long thin plastic tube.

To pump the fish's stomach, I fill the pump by inserting the tube in the water and squeezing the rubber bulb. Then, while securely holding the fish, I gently insert the tube down the fish's throat as far as I can.

I take particular care not to injure the fish during this process. I gently squeeze the rubber bulb, forcing the water into the fish's stomach. Then I gently remove the tube from the fish. The suction created by the pump extracts the stomach contents.

I carefully release the fish unharmed into the water (I have never lost a fish in this process). Then I squeeze the bulb and deposit the fish's stomach contents into my hand. It is a simple process to match the stomach contents to the contents of my fly box. Once again — size, shape and color. This is the best way to determine the fly to use, because you see what the fish actually are feeding on. I generally repeat this process for the first two or three fish and occasionally during the day to ensure they have not started keying in on some other food source.

Give these simple techniques a try, and you will be surprised at how many fish you will catch.

John Berry, of BERRY BROTHERS GUIDE SERVICE in Cotter Arkansas, has 25 years of experience fishing local rivers including the White, Norfork and Little Red. Contact him at Fly Fishing for Trout On The White and Norfork River in Arkansas Ozarks or 870-435-2169.

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