Take Your Flies Into The Danger Zone!

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Justin Pickett

There’s no crying in fly fishing.

In a way, fly fishing is a game of chance. That’s how I see it anyway. If you think about it, that will start to make sense to you if it doesn’t immediately. You want the best chance to catch fish, so you go to the place that gives you the best odds of hooking up with a particular species. It’s the same reason you don’t see folks throwing #20 BWO’s in the Keys, or fishing with a 1/2 oz spinnerbait and a baitcasting setup in tiny, freestone stream in the dead of summer… well, not often anyway. It doesn’t make any damn sense first off, and secondly, the chances of you catching anything are pretty much nil, zero, and nada. Get where I’m at now?

I’m not trying to take any skill out of fly fishing, I’m just saying I’m not going to toss flies in a parking lot mud puddle after a rainstorm and expect a whole lot. With all that being said, once you’re on the water you have to take advantage of the water you’re fishing in order to increase your chances of hooking up. Whether it’s trout, bass, snook, bluegill, or musky, you’ve got to be willing to cover all types of water, and sometimes that includes tight, uninviting areas that will cost you some flies. Those places are where many fish congregate and seek refuge.

Flies aren’t cheap. It’s the main reason why I tie the large majority of what’s in my boxes. I will seldom purchase flies from a shop, and when I do it’s because I don’t have what’s working or I lost them all, or I didn’t have time to tie what I felt I needed for a trip. However, I’m not afraid to lose any fly, whether bought or tied, when I’m fishing. You need to lose that inhibition as well if you want to increase your hookups and maybe even get the chance at tangling with the Wiley ‘ol Musky that haunts your dreams. You’ve got to be fearless and have the type of reckless abandon that puts a smirk on your face every time you see a fly snagging, sum’ bitch lie.

_DSF5329I’m talking submerged timber, undercut banks, mangroves, and manmade structures. Anything where Hog Johnson might be lurking, and waiting for some naïve piece of meat to wander into his lair. In most instances you can surely catch fish avoiding these fly traps, but in order to become a better angler you’ve got to be willing to test your abilities and try new techniques.

Don’t be a pansy. Yes, you are going to lose flies. You are likely going to lose some of your favorite, most expensive flies. Or a fly that took 45 minutes to tie. (Don’t cry. There’s no crying in fly fishing) But what about that one cast when you don’t lose that fly and it drifted right through that undercut, or slipped right between those submerged trees, or flew deep into the mangrove and your line suddenly became alive with the thrashing of some scaly monstrosity? You gonna complain then?

Didn’t think so… (Insert Grip and Grin here)

Get After ‘Em!!!

Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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15 thoughts on “Take Your Flies Into The Danger Zone!

  1. I was such a hacker, for SO long, that I got use to loosing flies… When it it finally became simple attrition, I often felt guilty.
    Lessons learned: I check my knots. I don’t worry about banging the banks or using weighted flies around structure. Confidence and more confidence!
    I love streamers. They take a while to tie, but whether it’s flatwings, sculpins, or intruder style, it’s that “bucknasty” grab that I crave. And I’m not frustrated if I loose a fly anymore, because catching happens!

    • Exactly. No point in being scared. It’s just a piece of metal with hunks of feather and fur. Let em fly and get after em!

  2. Good One! Just got back from the Ausable/Manistee and is was a good feeling to hear the guides up there shout ” Good Shot” when you dropped one right into the timber, undercut banks , and other nasty structure….. It coulda been at 10 feet or 40 feet , the distance was irrelevant because you gotta cast where the big ones are holding if that’s what you are targeting…If you see a rise , go get um….. Flies be damned….

    • Yes sir! You gotta get in there! I’ll lose half my box if it means having a good day on the water! Flies be damned!

  3. What’s the best way to snap off flies? Sometimes you get snagged on a deep log in a deep hole in which you can’t wade into. So what’s the best way to break that rig off?

  4. Good post. I work at a local fly shop on occasion, and the folks who come in and buy only a couple flies at a time just crack me up! They walk in all pissed about losing the last two and take an hour picking out 2-3 replacements. Then they walk out holding the little plastic cup like it contains two gold nuggets and they might get robbed of the precious cargo between the shop and their car.

    Flies be damned, I go out to catch fish!

  5. Best piece of advice was from a good friend of mine. He said “if you’re not loosing flies, you’re not doing it right.” After that, I started added more weight to my nymph rigs, casting closer to structure, etc. I can say without a doubt, my catch rates have increased big time!

  6. “There’s no crying in fly fishing.” A little artistic liberty with another movie’s script? Love it, I tie to lose, mostly warm water where I’m from, ponds are full of crap to get stuck on, but there’s always mister HOG bass lurking in last year’s Christmas tree…

  7. “Flies aren’t cheap. It’s the main reason why I tie the large majority of what’s in my boxes.”

    If you’ve saved a single penny tying vs. buying I’d be shocked.

    I can’t imagine if I’d have bought everything I’ve tied it would come anywhere close to the same money.

    Yeah, I’m pretty well stocked for life, but… ya know, then you see that great neck and you’ve just gotta have it… ooh look, I don’t have that color ice dub… am I running low on grizz? Hell, pick some up anyhow…

    Gotta love the craft because the financials don’t make a lick of sense. If you have actually saved money, God bless ya.

    My $0.02, your mileage may vary.


    • I am a warm water fly fisherman, usually from a boat and I lose a lot of flies. There are many reasons I tie my own flies, but the most important ones are that I can fine tune adjustments that aren’t available commercially or in fly shops.

      I tie 4 versions of a foam beetle; one with a #10 df hook that lays in the surface film, one with a wet fly hook that slowly sinks (that’s my bass killer), one with a double foam back that I can control a little better than the lighter ones and one that I palmer wrap with whiting d f hackle that lies on top of the water for those mirror like surface days.

      Another reason I tie is that I hate Tv and in the winter instead of watching the boob tube I tie, daydreaming about being on the water again…very therapeutic for me.

      Probably the most important reason is the quality of the flies. I have bought flies that were awesome and after one or two fish they are a hook with a piece of thread hanging off of it…very frustrating when the fish are biting and you didn’t buy enough.

      If I take into account the three vises I have gone through over the years, all the hooks I have (that I probably wouldn’t go through in two life times), all the hair-brained material that I thought would work but didn’t and the dozens and dozens of packets of dubbing I hardly use anymore; I think I still come out ahead of the game because of the entertainment and satisfaction factors.

      I definitely over tie the amount that I actually need. With warm water fish, after they are caught on the same fly a couple times they learn pretty fast to avoid it. So it is back to the tying vise again to experiment with a new design. My target fish is 9-12 inch bluegills on a # 4 rod and they are very picky and unforgiving.

      I never cry about losing flies, to me it is like worrying about tire tread wear when going on a road trip. But I do scratch my head a bit when I see the four or five dozen flies that don’t work anymore.
      Flies be damned…there is always another lake right over the horizon.

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