This may sound more like ranting than anything else, but stay with me for a moment. There is a word floating around the industry, that I think takes advantage of anglers more than anything else. This particular word would be “Advanced.” You see it all the time: Advanced Nymphing Clinic, or Advanced Dry Fly Fishing; the list goes on & on. Well, the truth is that in 25 years of guiding I have never seen a fish eat a nymph, dry fly, streamer, indicator or anything else in an ‘advanced’ method! With that in mind, how would you know anyway? Do the trout go through some sort of advanced feeding technique when they are juveniles? No! If you pay attention to your surroundings and conditions, make a decent cast and a good drift, you are so far into the ball game it’s not even funny! Location, presentation, & fly are numbers 2, 3, & 4 on the list of things you need to be proficient at in order to get in the game. Number one is simply paying attention.
I fished with another guide today, on my day off (instead of mowing the lawn -go figure!), and we hooked a good number of fish swinging and a good number on the dry fly. When we got off the river another angler came up to us while we were unloading and asked what magic fly we had used to catch the fish he saw us hooking(we were fishing just above him). He said that he worked the same area for an hour and could not get any fish to grab. He mentioned he was thinking of taking a class in – that’s right- ‘advanced’ this or that (you fill in the blanks) from one of the area lodges to help improve his fishing. I remember watching him earlier that day, and he was a good caster, and good angler. I saw him hook a number of fish, but the guy had his boat set in the wrong spot. From where he was set up, there was no way he could have made decent drift over the fish, and they were not moving far to eat because they did not need to. The fish were in a back bay, and from where the angler was his fly was washing out before the fish had a chance to see it. So, even though he was getting it close enough for any other conditions, these fish only needed to move inches to get what was on the water. Had he set his boat up a little different the guy could’ve put his fly right on their heads while keeping his boat in the back bay, never having to worry about spooking the fish. NO ADVANCED TRAINING NEEDED HERE, and NO ADVANCED DRY FLY METHOD – just the simple matter of good ole’ Number 1…PAYING ATTENTION! Save your money right now, and maybe ask yourself if it is some refinement and practice that is needed. There is a lot to be said for experience, of course, but practice brings experience! Instead, put your money into fishing. You will get more from a one-on-one instructional guide trip (hint, hint) than any three day advanced clinic, and it will cost less!
With that said, the one thing that runs the gray line would be casting. Before you can learn to double haul, you need to learn the basics of casting. You need to learn to walk before you can run, right? The same applies here: there are a lot of steps to go through before you become a proficient caster. Are they steps or advanced? That is for you to decide. Someone will pay good money to go to some clinic to be taught how to feed their fly, indicator, and etc. 40 feet down river. They will then be told to come back to the ADVANCED class to learn the true advanced method of catching trout…only to learn how to add an extra mend and some feeding to get an extra 10 feet of drift! I am sure that this blog will come under great debate from some people. Some will ask why I don’t teach a class. Well, I do…but it is generally all first timers in the class or someone who wants to brush up. Since nobody is born with the knowledge of how to do this, they need to have some instruction, but that is where it stops. After that, it all falls on stream experience.