Home » Flyosophy

10 Things Every Fly Fisherman Should Know

6 January 2011 No Comment

With the Holidays coming up (ok so I missed them get off my back) I figured I would create a list of things I appreciate in my awesome life.  Stuff like health, wealth, family, no friends, and the joy each night of coming home to hear the most delightful sound a man can hear – the music of no one bitching at him.  Essentially I am grateful that I get to wake up and be me.  I live on Cape Cod – arguably the greatest striped bass fishery for a fly fisherman.  My house is on a kettle pond with a herring run and some ridiculously sized smallmouth bass that no one else fishes for.  Less than a 1/8th mile from my home is a deeper pond stocked with trout and salmon, this spring fed pond has a herring run and is deep and cold enough to allow the trout to hold over year to year. In addition to these fishing opportunities, my life is rich.  The living room boasts a painting of Mr. T standing before the Goddess Athena, I have a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game, haven’t seen my boss in about seven years, and to top it all off, the incredibly broad-shouldered and jacked Flyosopher walks down the street with the not-so quiet confidence that he could easily kill the average man with his bare hands.

So then I got to thinking about all the things folk take for granted.  Knowledge especially is taken for granted and undervalued.  One of the things I do in my spare time is teach adult literacy.  Can you imagine going through life without the ability to read?  I honestly can’t.  Words and thoughts are so closely entwined in my mind I almost can’t think without words. Writings and thoughts are essentially the same thing to me, and I always suspected most people were the same, which naturally was a mistake on my part.  So I got to thinking (with words) about what a fly fisherman may take for granted about himself or his companions.  After bouncing ideas off people – whom I take for granted – I came up with a list of things I feel every fly fisherman should know.  Let’s see how many you don’t.  You may then resolve to learn all of them in the New Year – beats saying you’ll cut weight while eating fried Chinese food.

I.  Know how to swim Jackass!!!

The way I look at it.  Anyone who spends any time around the water should know how to swim.  If you don’t know how to swim, you not only endanger your life but the lives of anyone stupid enough to feel the need to save your sorry ass when you fall in the water which is certainly bound to happen sooner or later.  You don’t have to be Michael Phelps but learn a basic stroke and be able to save yourself should the need arise.  Just so you know nearly 86% of drown victims have one thing in common…they are found with their fly down. So if you are pissing off the side and fall overboard before your spirit leaves your body, have a little common courtesy and zip it up.  Also alcohol and water sports don’t mix, enough said.

II. Know your casting limitations

Nothing is worse than fishing with a chump who can’t cast.  I don’t care if you never catch a fish, but be mindful and competent enough to not hit the guys around you with a fly.  This point is especially valid when fishing from a boat.  Don’t say you can cast 80 feet when you can barely make 50.  The captain has to position the boat so that you can make consistent casts to the structure the fish are holding in.  Don’t make his job harder because you think a number will impress him – it won’t.  Seriously nobody cares; unless you truly are a great caster then they will only care because they think you are a boastful jerk.

III. Know how to dress for the conditions

This is my personal biggest personal failure. Several times a year, I will dress for a warm weather day in May and then get splashed by fifty degree water and have a miserable time.  Like any good stripper will tell you, you can always take it off.  Nothing will take your mind out of the game faster than being uncomfortable.  It doesn’t mater if it is frozen feet, getting devoured by black flies, exhaustion because you were too cold to sleep at camp the night before, or having to walk a mile in neoprene waders sweat yourself silly and then stand in a cold stream.  Most of the “hardcore” elements fishermen deal with could be easily mitigated with some sound planning.

“There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Norwegian Proverb

IV. Know how to get a barbed hook out of someone

You are a fisherman sooner or later you will have to deal with this unpleasantness.  Barbless hooks are becoming the norm in fly fishing.  They are all I use and should be all you use.

“But Mr. Flyosopher what if you are afraid of losing a fish during a fight?”

Pathetic Feeb

“See Item VII or 7 for you Latin Illiterates.”

The Flyosopher

“I think those are just Roman Numerals not real Latin, Right?”

Pathetic Feeb

“You can tell yourself that when the surgeon is removing my size XII boot from your candy ass.”

The Flyosopher

However, most fishermen are stupid and thus most fishing hooks are barbed.  When a hook is imbedded in human flesh there is a trick to getting it out RELATIVELY painlessly.  Get a length of heavy line and loop it around the bend of the imbedded hook.  I then advise you wrap or tie the ends of this line to a pen, screwdriver, even your key ring to make a handle of sorts.  You will want a good solid grip that won’t slip or cut your fingers.  Press down on the eye of the hook (or better still have a 3rd guy do it) and then, preferably after distracting the patient (this is the only time in a fishing situation a woman, preferably Flo the Progressive Insurance Spokes-babe would be useful), yank on the line as hard as you can. Pop that hook out!!! Don’t be squeamish!!! You may feel that you don’t want to hurt your buddy but keep in mind that having to do it twice hurts a hell of a lot more than doing it once correctly.  If you have to yank twice because you pussed out, the guy that had the hook in him gets a free punch.  Rules are rules.

“There is no discount for screaming like a Bitch…”

Flyosophy Fun Fact:  The Flyosopher loves Flo.

V.   Know your knots

Braided butt leaders are swell.  So are lines that have a pre-made welded loop.  But take it from me, my last name is “Murphy” – the laws of Physics and Religion may one day be proved false…but Murphy’s Law NEVER will falter!!!  Something bad is going to happen to your rig someday.  I suspect it will be moments after the sea-plane that dropped you off for the trip of a life-time takes off.  You simply must know how to tie every single knot you will ever need for all your reels, lines, and leaders.  That being said I personally hate knots and do the majority of my fishing at night.  If there is a scheme or method to avoiding knots I have probably tried it.  Braided butts, furled leaders, heck I even keep a box of all black flies with pre-tied tippets that I can loop to loop knot to my leaders.  Still, every year I make sure to practice my nail knots and blood knots – you simply never know when you may need them.

VI.   Know what you are planning on doing with the fish after it is caught

Every year I see a common sight, some dumbass fishing from a bridge for stripers with light tackle.  This begs the question: What the hell is Brainiac going to do if he manages to hook one?  Luckily I have not yet had to witness this spectacle, but I figure when I do I will be able to hear the Looney Tunes theme playing gently in the distance.

If you are planning to keep a fish, then be prepared.  Have a cooler, creel, or whatever means required for transporting the fish.  If you are planning to take pictures of the fish you catch – have your camera ready.

“But I didn’t think I’d catch a fish just then.”

The young Flyosopher

“Then why the hell did you make a cast?  A-student Huh?”

The Flyosopher’s Dad

If you are planning to release the fish, then know how to handle and if necessary revive the fish to ensure the maximum probability that that fish will survive.  If you are planning to submit the fish for a medal or some line-class record, know exactly what the rules are for the contest in question and abide by them.  This is not rocket science, but how many times have you witnessed the sight of a beautiful fish flopping on the rocks while some dumbass digs for a camera to take a few snaps then toss the fish back into the lake only to wonder why it is now doing the back-stroke.  This gives all fishermen a bad name and I will not tolerate such needless waste from my fellow fly fishermen.  I learned two things in the Boy Scouts that I carry with me everyday.  The first was to Be Prepared – the second I only discuss with licensed professionals.

VII.   Know how to fight a fish

Of all the Pet Peeve’s regarding fly fishing I have, this one irks me the most (my buddy Mark ears probably are still ringing from one tirade I expressed about this) – fly fishermen who fight fish like pansies.  It is very common on Cape Cod to see a trout fisherman fight a smallish striper like it was a trout and whip the fish to death.  Show some Testee!!!  If you have to exhaust a fish to catch it, know that you have most likely killed that fish.  Even if it swims off and the congratulations begin, it is a wild creature and more likely than not it will not survive.  Let’s get something straight right now.  You are the human, you have EVERY advantage.  A fight with a fish is not a battle of equals.  You have a flexible lever, you have a reel with a drag, you have a rational mind, if you lose you don’t die, you may even have companions to aid you.  A fish only escapes if you screw up – and just so you know being woefully ill-equipped counts as a screw up.  The brag-worthy (if you must) aspect of fly fishing is in getting the fish to bite.  Bringing a fish to hand (with VERY few exceptions) is basically a foregone conclusion.  The skillful part of this is bringing the fish to hand quickly and ensuring a successful release.   Learn the limits of your rig and put as much pressure as you can on the fish.  With a long flexible fly rod, you may be surprised just how much this is.  Use side-pressure and control the fish’s head during the fight to disorient it.  Most species of fish are good for a burst of energy and need a moment or two to recover before another burst is possible.  If you keep the screws to him, many fish even very large ones may never be capable of repeated flurries and thus give up before becoming exhausted.  Finally, if anyone ever uses any variant of the phrase “I thought the rod would be ripped from my hands,” pat them on the head and say, “I guess the Yes I Can program never taught you how to operate a drag you snot-fueled Retard!”

VIII.   Know your quarry

Imagine if you will that every fish in the world has a bull’s eye in front of it.  This imaginary target represented where a fly, bait, or lure would have to be in order to catch that fish.  Of all the methods available to fishermen to take fish, the fly fishermen would have the fewest number of these bull’s eyes and they would be of the smallest size.  This is an odd image to consider but true.

For example: A bait fisherman targeting carp merely has to get his smelly bait into the water to have a possibility of success.  It will sink to the bottom no matter how deep, and the smell of the bait will draw the fish to it.  Now there are more and less efficient ways to fish bait, of course, but in comparison to a fly fisherman who must cast with accuracy and place his fly mere feet or in some cases inches from the nose of a moving target without the fish spooking, splashing the fly, timing it to sink to the necessary depth (provided it is shallow enough for the fly to reach), and act in a natural manner to entice a strike.  This target is often a mud cloud where the delicate fly has little chance of being detected unless the placement is dead perfect. Now Lady Luck never hurt anyone (well maybe her bad-ass twin sister has) especially not a fisherman…but fly fishermen can depend on her the least.  Your most valuable tool is an understanding of the fish you seek, and the environment they are in.  Acquire it.

IX.   Know First Aid and CPR

Seriously, very often we are out in the world where cell phones don’t work and help may be hours away.  Imagine having to tell your buddy’s wife or kid that he died and didn’t have to if you knew what should be common knowledge.  That would suck on an Epic level.  Also know the signs of hypothermia.  You should be able to diagnose it for others as well as for yourself.  If you know or suspect hypothermia, immediately take steps to get warm.  All rules about what is gay and isn’t gay (like two guys one sleeping bag) are suspended, well maybe for you fags but not for me. I personally would rather die than have some hairy, fat, Alaskan guide rub his man-boobs on me.  Don’t forget the Golden Rule of Hypothermia – no one is to be considered dead until they are warm and dead, if the victim is cold and dead there is a good chance they may be alive.

Flyosophy Fun Fact:  I miss Flo.

If you ice fish (moron) know how to determine if the ice is safe, then know how get your dumb ass out of the water should something bad happen.  Know and have a plan ready for what to do should someone else fall through the ice.  Few things in this world should scare you like ice should.  I learned this – like I have learned most things – the hard way.

I personally believe that a majority of tragic events become tragic because the principle characters stopped thinking.  Panic kills.  Knowledge and the confidence that comes with it can save your life and perhaps those around you. Hopefully it will never happen, but if it happens even once even if it merely looks like it might happen once, acquiring the knowledge will be well worth it.  I have to know these things as a requirement of my work, it amazes me how few people have this knowledge in our society.  When I die of a heart attack I hope I am alone and fishing, because I would hate for my last mental image to be a bunch of dumbasses looking at each other and doing nothing.  Only thing worse would be mouth to mouth from that man-boob guy.
X.  Know why you are fishing

People do a wide variety of things for a wide variety of reasons.  I fish because it is fun for me.  When I am out I laugh easily, giggle, and I have been known to dance while stripping in flies.  I have fished with guys who said that fishing was fun and then never cracked a smile the entire day.  Try not to lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing.  Sure it can get frustrating, irritating, and expensive – but so can most of the things we love.

Have fun.

Comments are closed.