Category Archives: Fly Fishing

A certain aura of foodiness

Organizing my old pictures onto a new portable drive I came across a pair of gems that I’d been meaning to share. Not because they are truly fantastic pictures. Hardly. But rather because I think that they’re hilarious.

As a preface to the images themselves, understand that while I think fly fishing is a fantastic way to spend a day, I am not particularly grand at it. I can cast well enough (as long as my back isn’t right up against the shoreline) but the ability to tie neat flies eludes me.

The theory, (that I’ve been taught) is that a fly needs to have an aura of foodiness around it. It doesn’t need to look exactly like something a fish might want to sup upon, but it needs to look like something that the fish believes might — in fact — be sup-able. This single rule leads the vast majority of flies to fall into (in my eyes at least) three broad categories.

  1. Big stuff: Designed to look like wallowing / distraught mice or other mammals.
  2. “Wooly-buggers: Designed to look like some sort of insect floating serenely upon the surface of the water
  3. Streamers: Designed to sink a few inches beneath the surface and entice the more cautious fish that feel like rising to the surface is a poor choice.

Within those three categories things tend to look pretty much the same. Most wooly bugger types have the same shape and are made with the same basic color scheme, as are most streamers, as are most of the big-things. Its pretty simple really. There are a few colors and shapes fishers can use that are “sure” to attract interest among their aquatic prey and unless those combinations aren’t working out, why change the formula?

So why, given that knowledge, was I handed this beauty and told to try my luc?.

Of course I can catch a fish with that. It totally looks like it could be food.


The only place where that could pass at food is a candy store. No fish in the world is going to think “Oh! Sweet. Pink! My favorite foods are all neon pink!” If anything it should frighten fish away. Bright colors are supposed to indicate toxicity in the natural world. (Even though humans have decided that bright colors in our food simply mean “sour”).

Still, I tried it, and after a dozen fruitless casts it actually worked. Never before had I actually laughed at a fish, but there’s a first time for everything.

You sir, have made a terrible mistake.

I have no idea what that proves about fish. Except that apparently “foodiness” is a much broader term than I had imagined it to be.

Measuring Time in Fluid Ounces

From the Journal: 9/2/2010

We do our “serious” fishing in the early mornings and even then we take frequent beer breaks to rest the fish… this actually seems to work, which I find amazing. Hell, if I’d known years ago how much a part of fishing drinking is (and inversely, how much a part of drinking fishing can be) I’d own half a dozen rods, one of those dinky mesh vests, and a boat by now.

As I may have mentioned before, fly-fishing and drinking go together hand in hand. At any given point you may be in water up to your crotch, in the rain, in the middle of a lake (if you’re comfortable wading far from land / can’t cast with the shore at your back worth a damn). Of course you should have a beer or three handy.  Its cold and lonesome out there. I hear there are bears.

Which brings me nicely to the title of this entry. At least in my family, we measure the length of our individual fishing jaunts by how many beers we plan to take along.

  • A One beer fishing trip doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. What are you, a teetotaler? That beer might get you to the outhouse and back, are you casting from the front porch? Are you already finished? Recycle that can when you’re done and try again.

    Its ungodly early. I could use a drink.

    Seriously considering getting back in bed in this picture.

  • A Two beer fishing trip might take an hour or two. To be fair, its probably only four or five in the morning. You’ll be home for the next meal (possibly breakfast) without any trouble. You’ll expect a beer ready for you when you get back.

    Two Beers

    Letting the fish rest, its "Strategy" (and refreshing)

  • A Three beer fishing trip is likely a solid afternoon, you’ll be far from camp for most of it and might miss a meal. Hopefully, someone will be kind enough to save a beer for you.

    Having a beer while you're eating barely counts.

    More letting the fish rest.

  • A Four beer fishing trip is an indication that you’re in this business for the long haul. There will probably be a significant hike involved (hence that fourth beer, you’ll get thirsty with all that walking), you might get lost, have to take a nap (doesn’t the sun feel wonderful on your face), or bring a meal with you. The folks back at camp should leave a candle in the window and a beer by the door for you.

    You can't see the beer because you can't see anything.

    Returning from a four beer trip, we critically misjudged how much daylight we had left, how much moonlight we'd have, and (perhaps most crucially) how much more river we had before the rocks.

  • I have never returned from a Five beer trip. It is the Everest of fly-fishing.

    Many Sherpas died in the attempt

    Pouring one out for those who tried to fly too high. (Actually christening a patched canoe, but its basically the same thing).

Found: Chrysalis

Walking along the shore in Quebec this past summer, my uncle stumbled upon (and by stumbled upon I mean stepped upon) a black Chrysalis half-buried in the sand. Not entirely sure what it was, but curious, he picked it up to examine it, and it started to wiggle.


Excited, he pocketed the intriguing little proto-moth and brought it back to camp to show me. We placed it on the table in the cabin in order to examine it better and eventually settled on the name Walter (I’m not very good at identifying adult insects, let alone immature ones, and it looked like a Walter). Since it was early in the summer still, we decided it might ultimately be more humane to leave Walter outside, lest he — spurred on by the relative warmth of the cabin — leave his protective casing early. We checked up on him every day, partially to make sure he hadn’t been snatched by an opportunistic bird and partly to see if he was showing any sign of breaking free.

Isn't he just the cutest

Shown next to a (tiny) bottle of vodka for misleading scaling. I'm not sure I could have dealt with Walter had he been six inches long.

Luckily for him, the swallows that nested around the cabin showed no interest at all. Unluckily for us, as the days passed it slowly became apparent that he might not hatch while we were around to see him.

However, that terrible disappointment was not to be. As we packed our things to leave, literally minutes before we boarded the float-plane and took off, we noticed that Walter had emerged at long last. However, I’m rubbish at insect taxonomy. Does anyone know what exactly he is? Beyond a moth of some sort?

My how you've grown

What awesome antennae you have.

Walter, something about you is different?

I really wish I was better with insect phylogeny. I have no idea what he was. Except for fairly patient with being held.

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