Ever since getting into the discipline of using one fly pattern/style only, with no great concern for choosing the “right” fly, but rather focusing proper fishing technique (presentation and manipulation of the fly), there have been moments of doubt. However, I have chosen to rely less on gear and perfect technique instead. I wanted to learn more, to become proficient at fishing, not spend my time changing flies. Further, I’m very attracted to the idea that whether I catch a fish or not is entirely up to me and my technique, and that if a fish is not biting maybe I could do something slightly different. This thought, that maybe it’s not my fly selection, but rather my technique on fishing it, have dramatically pushed me to become a better angler. I have stuck with using a tenkara fly only (mostly size 12), no matter where I fish, or what is hatching. Also, absolutely no indicators, no floatant and no weight! To once again borrow the words of Yvon Chouinard on the subject, “I believe the way toward mastery of any endeavor is to work toward simplicity; replace complex technology with knowledge, hard work and skill.”
Since the idea of sticking with one fly and relying solely on my technique is still relatively new to me, sometimes doubt creeps in. This is especially true if I find myself fishing a bigger, slower river, like the Madison, for which everyone has advice on what fly to use and for which there are dozens of books on what specific patterns to use at different times of the year, etc. And, it’s also true if I find myself in the company of very experienced anglers, like John Gierach and Ed Engle, who may be using different patterns in a stream they know well. And, it is especially the case if the day is slow. In these situations it’s very easy to lose confidence in my technique, in the techniques I can use to attract fish, and start thinking that maybe they are right! But are they? The western thought of matching the hatch is so ingrained in our minds that it’s hard to let go of it and realize that a couple of hundred years ago professional tenkara anglers, in the mountains of Japan, who depended on catching trout for a living, made it happen with one fly pattern and flawless technique. Nowadays that is the approach taken by tenkara anglers in Japan, for sport, and they continue catching fish.
Read the rest of this entry »