River Valley Outdoors
An all-night rain last week moistened the lawn enough to create a hint of spring in the air – pungent, earthy smells wafting in the warm breeze and pleasant sounds of birds chirping their spring songs.
With all the winter activities I’ve been involved in lately, any preparations for the upcoming fishing season have been put on the back burner.
During the tail end of last year’s fishing season I made a few mental notes, kind of a to-do list of things I learned that summer that I thought would improve my fishing the next year.
For me, fly fishing is an endless lesson and a welcome opportunity to constantly learn something new. Although there are plenty of expert fly anglers around, I strongly doubt that any one of them “knows it all.”
Studying the vast world of entomology (insect life), for instance, certainly will keep me busy for the rest of my life. Before I became a fly fisher, I never knew how many bugs lived under the surface of the water.
I took a field seminar on the Kennebec River about aquatic insects by famed author and angler, Thomas Ames, Jr., and have never looked back. During the class on the river, Ames lifted a rock from under the water and showed the class of eager anglers how to begin the process of identifying several of the creepy-crawly bugs that lived there.
From that moment on the river, I have never stopped wanting to learn more about aquatic insects. I’ve gone through two copies of Ames’ “Hatch Guide for New England” (Frank Amato Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 82112, Portland, OR, 97282, amatobooks.com). I carry one in my fishing vest where ever I go, and sometimes the little book gets soaked beyond saving.
Besides learning more about the bugs that fish eat, I also discovered that my old tried-and-true, hand-tied leaders are good – but not best for catching finicky brook trout with dry flies.
For years I have used Maxima Chameleon leader and tippet material (maxima-lines.com) to build my own leaders. I mostly fish for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River, but last year seemed to gravitate to trout-filled ponds and brooks.
One fishing trip that sticks in my mind started me thinking about how I could increase my catch-to-cast ratio. Initially I caught a few brookies with the Maxima leaders, and then switched to a Rio knotless leader (rioproducts.com) just because I was getting lazy and didn’t feel like putting a whole new Maxima leader together.
After switching to the Rio leader, I really started catching more trout. I thought it just happened to be a fluke, so I switched back to the Maxima and noticed a definite decline in the cast-to-catch ratio.
Searching Rio’s website, I find that they use tippet material called “Power Flex” for making their knotless leaders – this year I’ll try and tie up some of my own using their little wheels of the same material.
I may also try tippet material from a few other companies when making my leaders, and then do a comparison of each of them to narrow it all down to the “perfect leader.”
So this year, before the first day of fishing, I’ll further my bug-studying, tie a few new flies, and continue my quest for the perfect leader. If you see me on the water and listen close enough you may hear me whispering, “Take me to your leader.”
It never ends.