Odds 'n' Sods of Information and Opinion

Building a Comprehensive System

Building Consistency Part I

One consistent problem I see when watching others fish with two-handed rods -- the failure of the anglers to ensure that all components of the system are working together. Usually this results in an out-of-position fly and reduced chances of taking a fish. A common example occurs when the fly has some buoyancy and refuses to go down at the same rate as the tip. Anglers can be forgiven for thinking T-14 will drag down anything, but watch a buoyant fly in action and the results can be striking. One day on the Niagara, at the Artpark drift, I decided to try a bunny leech tied on an aluminum tube. I was using a 35’ Type 9 head that weighs more per foot, has a greater density and sink rate than T-14. Yet despite the tremendous get-down-ability of the line, the bunny leech stayed stubbornly near the surface until the belly of the line drifted into a strong current and the fly was finally dragged down. After a couple of casts I cut it off and went back to my usual flies that went were they were supposed to go.

We all have encountered “fish vacuums” in our lives; those people who can take fish no matter what the conditions and who always seem to out-fish everyone else. These people always seem to see fish very well and have an instinctive understanding of where they’re likely to be . ´┐╝As a result, they know where to put their fly, but just as importantly, their gear is precisely tuned to deliver the fly. They know that the fly is in position as their gear is so well set up and operates so consistently.

We have so many equipment choices these days that it’s easy to mismatch equipment. For example, would we expect to fish effectively with a Skagit tip on the end of a Scandinavian shooting head? I don’t think so. Anglers should stay within the system they’re employing; in other words, if you’re fishing Skagit style, go 100% that way and don’t mix in other elements until well versed in the method.

A comprehensive system is one where everything from the reel to the fly is assembled to work smoothly together to achieve the desired presentation, with no one section working against another. There are many examples of mismatched systems that I could list, but the essential is this: whether it’s Traditional Spey casting, or Scandinavian, or Skagit, the system should be put together as the designer or tradition suggests. Each method has a standard approach that has been developed over the years with good reasons. Varying from these standards should only be attempted when the fundamentals are well understood and the effects of the variance can be accurately anticipated. Examine what the experts in the style use for flies and leaders, then follow that approach. There are sound reasons why T-14 is being used with weighted Intruders on a Skagit line, so going to a buoyant fly instead, isn’t going to get the same results. Once a sound understanding of a method has been gained, then experimentation can move forward toward anticipated results. However, experimentation without that understanding is just shooting in the dark.