Georgia Man Catches Trout On Car Key, But Why?

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This Is Not A Fly – photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

Why in the hell would you fish that? I’m glad you asked. To prove a point.

For some reason this year I have run into more anglers with attitude than usual. Ranging from the dry fly purest who think they walk on the water rather than fish it, to the Bonos of fly fishing who keep a sharpie handy for a quick autograph. Here’s an example.

I was on a photo shoot a while back on the Henry’s Fork. I had a few minutes to fish and frankly, I needed a fish to photograph, so I asked the guide for a rod. He gave me a set up with a Chernobyl Ant, the fly everyone else was using to NOT catch fish. I didn’t have my gear so I ask if he had any streamers. The reply I got brought steam out of my ears. “This is the Henry’s Fork and we don’t do that here”. Rather than launch into a diatribe on what horse shit that is, I explained that this was my job and I needed a fish and may I please have a streamer. Within a few casts I had my fish. The guide was clearly irritated and insisted that it meant nothing.

I was talking, ok bitching, about this narrow view of fishing to Kent, over a few beers, when he challenged me to come up with the most f¥€ked up thing I could catch a fish on. After a few ideas we decided on a car key. I liked this because I cary a key chain with way too many keys. So I picked out a key and tied on a hook with a marabou tail. To further infuriate the purest I chose to fish it on 30 lb cuda wire. We were floating the Snake out of Jackson and fishing was tough but I tied on my car key and stuck to the plan. Once I learned to cast it without giving my self a concussion it wasn’t too long before I had an 18″ cutthroat in the net.

So here’s my point. Don’t go and get your ego all out of proportion because you can tie a fly and catch a fish that’s dumb enough to eat a car key. I know trout can be devilishly difficult to catch at times but it’s not because they are smart. They aren’t. They’re skittish and skeptical by nature and have a very effective set of instinctive behaviors but they are not capable of higher thought.

The idea that they are intelligent is largely a means of making ones self feel better about not catching them. The myth of fish intelligence is counterproductive to developing a real understanding of how they behave and how to catch them. Furthermore all this ego business just makes fly fishers look like a bunch of elitist fart sniffers and alienates those new to fly fishing.

Fishing should be fun. It should be a grounding experience, either on your own or shared with friends. It should put us back in touch with the natural world, with ourselves and with others who love to fish. It should not be a platform from witch we look down on our fellow man. My experience is uniquely mine and no less valid because it is different from yours.

Of coarse the car key is a joke. It makes a terrible fly but it proves my point and I think I’m a better fisherman for trying it. Maybe you should try it too.



What Was I Thinking – photo by Louis Cahill

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline

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25 thoughts on “Georgia Man Catches Trout On Car Key, But Why?

  1. “Furthermore all this ego business just makes fly fishers look like a bunch of elitist fart sniffers and alienates those new to fly fishing.”


    I’ve found a definite correlation between “trout purists” and people who rarely, if ever, do any other type of fishing…

  2. I love this post to be honest…. I will tell you why.. ANYTIME I have ever been on the water with someone or talked with someone about nymphs vs. dry and the supposed “ethics” of one versis the other I am dumbfounded at some of the dumbass remarks.. such ass oh if your nymphing your not fly fishing blah blah blah… Apparently if you have this attitude of nymphs you dont like to catch fish… Of course catching fish on top water is the ultimate high in fly fishing whether salt or fresh but I will be damned if i spend thousands of dollars to go fish somewhere and some douche bag guide says I cant use a nymph after hours of no success with a dry.. He must remember who is paying for the trip and who is getting paid to do the trip.. Clients PAY you to find fish, know what they are eating, and get them there in a safe manner and make the clients experience a good one.. Trout get 80+ percent of their forage BELOW the surface not the other way around and you need to capitalize on this FACT… Louis and Kent as yall know I fish 99% of the time under the surface when I trout fish and both of yall know what fly I fish and well you have the pictures so I dont need to say anymore… The PROOF nymphs catch more and bigger fish is well in the pictures…

  3. I don’t remember saying that. Must have been MFM. The only person I would say that to is smithhammer, because he knows it is dfo on the fork in July.

  4. Kind of ironic, the guy with the blog speaking of douchebags who have a high opinion of themselves.

    Kind of the narcissist calling the narcissist black, no?

    And it’s a cutthroat. It’s not like they are overly selective. Catch a permit on a key and we’ll talk, fucktard.

  5. “Furthermore all this ego business just makes fly fishers look like a bunch of elitist fart sniffers and alienates those new to fly fishing.”

    Kind of like looking down your nose at someone who will actually take and eat an occasional fish ???

    “I’ve found a definite correlation between “trout purists” and people who rarely, if ever, do any other type of fishing…”

    Now THAT is ironic !

  6. Hey Louis,

    You know by posting this the Dry Fly Mafia has put out a contract on you. They’ve ordered a pair of cement waders in your size. You’re going to be sleeping with the fishes. 😉

  7. Your blog is one of the better ones out there but I think this time your head is part way up your ass. Cudo’s for the key fly and the cutty…but…your justification to streamer the Henry’s Fork, assuming you mean The Ranch, based on your guides reaction, just plain sucks. There are very few public places like the Ranch, where a single dry fly, fished only to a rising fish, is the expectation, and an honored tradition. Indicators, beadheads, or streamers on The Ranch, and their glorification on blogs like this, is why the average new fly angler never really learns to cast…but rather to lob a multi-fly rig with strategically placed lead, hung under what is really a bobber, without impaling themselves, or their numbers-hungry wanna be trout guide… Folks like you, who have a voice that new anglers hear, should be preaching that there is more to fishing than just catching a fish…especially on the Henry’s Fork…if your skills weren’t up to getting one of those well versed Ranch bows for a grip and grin then maybe that pic wasn’t meant to be…Your guide did nothing wrong…all we was doing was trying to do was keep tradition on one of the greatest pieces of trout water anywhere…those fish deserve that…he is a real fishing guide that gets IT…In that instance you didn’t.

    • I fish for many reasons, but the biggest reason is to not get skunked. I may love being in the outdoors and enjoy the relaxing nature of a stream or a lake, but I have to say catching fish throws my experience over the top. If a fisherman chooses to only fish that dry fly on that one part of the river, so be it. You do that and I’ll look for something those fish will bite so that I can catch fish.

  8. Good words man! There is nothing wrong about hucking a streamer on the Henry’s fork! It is pretty much the expectation on the South Fork except when the salmon flies are on. I think a lot of people get this convoluted expectation that if they honor this tradition at the railroad ranch they somehow become part of this “club” of great fly fisherman who only throw dries. Well the ranch is one of the most heavily fished none boat accessed spots on the Henry’s fork. And all someone is doing by throwing a streamer is giving those fish a different look and it works damn good because of the size of those rainbows. People need to remember why they started fishing in the first place…oh ya to catch fish…everything else that happens, be it having a great time with family, connecting to the outdoors, unwinding, is secondary to catching a fish. You may say that isn’t the case, but it has to be or you wouldn’t do it. So next time you are at the ranch please throw whatever the hell you think will catch you a fish and don’t give in to that dry or die nonsense. One of the best aspects about fly fishing is the freedom it gives you. Enjoy it and catch some fish, even if that means breaking tradition and throwing a sex dungeon!

  9. I always tell people that I fish whatever legal strategy it takes to get a fish to bite. Fishing without catching can be relaxing, but where’s the excitement in fishing or fly fishing if your not catching fish.

  10. I was at a fly shop on Henrys Fork and asked the guy behind the counter what type of nymph he recommended. He gave me a dirty look and said that we don’t do that here. What a pompous a-hole . I didn’t reply because I didn’t think it would do any good but what a bunch of snobs. but when it comes to money they sell every kind of nymph and other flies that aren’t meant for dry fly fishing. Kind of like the tobacco industry , the exes. will sell to you but they don’t use.

  11. I’m going to try a gurgler version with a small padlock key that has a plastic coating.
    Some foam on the “shank” and a little flashabou should do the trick.

  12. Thank you for this first effort at raising the demand for old keys. I have an old coffee can full of old keys that was on the workbench in my grandfather’s garage. I kept it, sure in the knowledge there would be a use for all those keys. But I’m afraid the latest craze in trout lures won’t be enough. Could you post something about keys being the latest hair extension fashion adornment, especially for young ladies?

    And now, back to our regular programming. Next up, trolling from your float tube – blasphemy or brilliance?

  13. I’m a bit confused. I guided on both the Henry’s Fork and the South Fork for 5 years. I didn’t know a single guide from any outfitter who was opposed to streamers or nymphs, the notable exception being the ranch section.In fact, the shop I worked for (You would all know the name) kept a “dirty” box underneath the fly counter and a dozen bins of that box was stocked with black and chartreuse maribou jigs.

    The video was hard to make out, but its definitely not the Ranch. It looks more like the South Fork to me than the Henry’s fork, but it could have been the Lower Mesa or Warm River stretch on the Henry’s Fork. The fact that you had a drift boat probably rules out the Lower Mesa section and the fact that you caught an 18″ cutthroat mostly rules out the HF. I’m guessing this is the South Fork and I certainly believe you could get a cutty to eat a key fly. They can be very aggressive towards streamers.

    SF guides can certainly be Dry/dropper focused but I’ve met few who wouldn’t throw a streamer from time to time.

  14. This is one of the stupidest articles and chain of responses that I have ever see about fly fishing. Why do you care if a fly fisher wants to fish with dry flies, or streamer, or nymphs. Maybe he just wants to do it his way. What is wrong with that.

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