Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives - mostly Little BWO - Isolated hatches
2.   Mahogany Duns
3.   Midges - hatching in isolated locations
4.   Little Yellow Stoneflies - hatching
5.   Slate Drakes - hatching
6.   Cream Cahills - hatching in Isolated locations
7.   Little Yellow Quills
8.   Needle Stoneflies
9.   Beetles
10. Grasshoppers
11. Ants
12. Inch Worms
13. Crane Flies
14. Helligramite
15. Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crawfish

The Learning Process - Part  51
I cannot determine from our video logs exactly what our next learning process was. I
do remember either our first or second year I started watching fly tying videos. I was
interested in how they were produced more than the actual instructions for tying
flies. I was not a fly tier. I also purchased some books on the subject.

The first thing that I remember noticing that was consistent with the videos and the
books was that it seemed the author or person in the video would say that you
determined the amount of hackle you wanted to put on your fly based on where you
were going to fish it. My of hand thought was how can you do that and make the fly
look like a real bug. Of course, I also realized that many flies were not being tied to
look like any real bug. It seemed the tier was more interested in putting his personal
touch on it to where it could be uniquely identified as his.

My thoughts were, and still are by the way, that it seemed like you should dress the
fly to look like the natural as much as possible. I knew that just as important it
should also act like or behave like the natural. I still couldn't understand why if a
certain insect hatched from a certain type of water, say fast water in a run, why it
needed to have more hackle (which I learned was supposed to imitate the legs of a
the insect) than the real insect had legs or more tails than the real bug had tails.
The answer was quite obvious on the videos and in the books. It was to make the fly
ride higher in the water so the angler could see it better. That being the case, I
began to wonder why it was important to have the fake fly ride higher in the water
than a real bug obviously would ride. It seemed as if every time I read or watched
something, it appeared what happened was more of a product of what the tier
wanted than what a real natural insect would encounter.

I was watching one of A. K. Best's videos and reading one of his books when I
noticed that he claimed the exact shade of color was very important. It was so
important he make slides of the real insects and blew them up to a very large size
on a wall so he could get the color thing down just right. He worked with the studio
lights to get all natural light to keep the same colors that the real insects would have
on the water.

When the particular fly he was talking about was being tied, I noticed he tied in a
huge clump of tail hairs for the mayfly he was suppose to be imitating. I knew the
real fly had either two or three tails and I knew 50 or 75 tails didn't quite match the
tails of the real fly. Later, his explanation came when he said that he didn't think
trout could count. I didn't either, so I skipped over that for a minute and then the
though hit me that the many tails didn't resemble the tails of the real mayfly in any
conceivable respect. He had the length down and that was about the only thing
close to a real mayflies tail. I believe the mayfly he was tying was to imitate the Pale
Morning Duns, a little mayfly similar to our Sulphur in the East. My thoughts were,
and still are, that how could the exact shade of color be critically important but the
size and shape of the tails, for example, not even remotely close to the natural.

Now this is not about fly tying. This is about how the trout sees the fly. The same
thing I have been writing about for the last few days. My point is that when I got
involved watching videos and reading about fly tying, I discovered that some things
seem to matter to an incredible extent and others didn't seem to matter at all. I
could give many more fly tying examples but I don't think I have to. I think most of
you get the point.

It seemed to me that the fly should be tied to match the naturals appearance and
behavior as much as possible. It wasn't until I started to learn that insects don't
hatch the same way and in the same areas of the streams that I learned yet another
thing that until this day just blows my mind. At that point in time I was told and
taught, from what little outside help I had, that you cast upstream and placed you
dry fly in certain areas of the stream in order that it would drift down those areas
where the bubbles were. That make perfect sense. That was were most insects that
hatched would be drifting, right? That is where the trout would be lying to eat them,
right? It all sounded good and I bought it up until I began to learn that many of the
insects didn't hatch were it was possible for them to drift in that magic place.

I began to learn that many didn't even hatch in the water. They crawled out of the
water and hatched into duns, in the case of mayflies,  or hatched into adults in the
case of caddisflies and stoneflies. I found out that all stoneflies crawled out of the
water to hatch about our second year of fly fishing. Then it occurred to me that the
dry fly was supposed to imitate the egg layers. They would be drifting down the
same places I was told to alway place my fly - right?. It didn't take me long to find
out that was not correct either. In fact, most of them didn't drift on the surface at all
and most of them didn't lay their eggs in the places I was taught to place my fly. I
found out that most all mayflies moved to slow or moderate water to hatch. They
would hatch and within seconds depart the water without ever drifting down those
places I had been taught to place my fly.

I began to learn that there was a lot more to imitating the behavior of aquatic
insects that was I was learning from the fly tying book and videos. I began to learn
there was a lot more to imitating them than I had been taught with regards as to
where to place my fly.

To put it bluntly, I began to learn that many anglers didn't have a clue about the
behavior of the insect they were trying to imitate. The were just coping other
anglers. That made perfect sense. I had witnessed that for years fishing for many
other species of fish. (Continued)
Copyright 2009 James Marsh