The Magic Stonefly

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The Hot Ticket Photo by Louis Cahill

The Hot Ticket Photo by Louis Cahill

On of the best lessons I have learned from fishing with Kent is this. If there is a secret to angling success, it’s confidence.

A few years back I was on a photo shoot in Wyoming when the client wanted to stage a shot of an angler looking through a fly box. The box we had on hand was my own, but my fly selection was greatly depleted, as it almost always is by mid summer when I’m too busy shooting to tie. My good friend Rob Parkins was helping me out on the shoot and offered to fill out my box with some of his flies. After the shoot when I offered the box back so he could reclaim his flies, he told me to keep them.

I was stoked! Rob is one of the best fly tiers I know and I was stoked to have half a box of his flies. I was planning a couple of days of fishing at the end of the job and I knew these flies would insure that it was productive. I was right.

Among the flies were some very cool stonefly patterns. Several I had not seen before. One in particular caught my eye. A golden stone dry fly with sexy legs and a cool wing made up of layers of flash and different colored yarn. I held it up to the light and the wing had a lifelike glow that I knew would drive fish crazy. I remember thinking how clever Rob had been to think of it.

I wrecked fish with that fly while I was in Wyoming. When I got home I couldn’t wait to give it a try. I wasn’t surprised to find that it was just as effective in the east as it was in the west. It was just one of those fishy flies that works anywhere. When I got to the river I would tie it on and I knew it would produce.

I fished that fly with confidence because I trusted the guy who tied it. I knew that any fly Rob had tied was going to be a guaranteed producer and all I had to do was put in on the seam and hang on. I caught a lot of fish on that fly everywhere I fished it. Eventually I stashed it away. I was afraid I’d lose it and not be able to tie another.

I called Rob up and told him about the success I was having with the fly and asked him if he would share the recipe with me so I could tie up some more. He was happy to help but when I described the fly he wasn’t sure which fly I was talking about.

“Take a picture with your phone and send it to me,” he told me. So I did. This is the response I got.

“I don’t know what that fly is. I found it in a tree.”

I had been fishing that fly for months thinking my buddy had tied it, but it turns out it was nothing special. It probably came from the bin at the local fly shop and some tourist had left it in the tree. But to me had been something special. A rare secret pattern that I’d never see again tied by a wizard with powers irresistible to fish. That’s how I fished it and that’s how it worked.

Funny thing is, I haven’t fished it much since. That’s how magic is. Once you see the wires, the illusion is never the same but the message is clear. The magic was not in the fly. The magic was in me. It just took confidence to make it work.

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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19 thoughts on “The Magic Stonefly

  1. Great story! I couldnt help but to laugh when Rob said “I found it in a tree”! How very true, once the magic is revealed, it fades away. I have a few confidence flies of my own, that always produce, I hope to never see the magic of these flies and just keep catching fish.

  2. So true, Louis. This is one of the reasons why a fly fished successfully by one person does not work for another, even if the other person is a decent fisherman.

    By the way, the same goes for arguing a case in front of a jury. One lawyer’s go-to language falls flat for another. Believing in your client and the case you make in front of the jury is key, not the words. Funny how life has parallels…

  3. Great Advice and very true! Rob ties some awesome flies. I’ve also been the recipient of a few of his flies and they catch fish.

  4. This reminds of the first time I floated down the “A Section” of the Green River in Utah. My buddy told me to tie on a #16 Royal Wulff. I was reluctant to use such a gaudy concoction because I had been told how picky the trout in the Green were. I was all set to match the hatch that day. His response is that this was the Halleluiah Fly. “If you believed in it you would catch fish.” That day I did, and I did.


  5. Pingback: The Magic Stonefly | Fly Fishing | Gink and Gasoline | How to Fly Fish | Trout Fishing | Fly Tying – Demos

  6. Pingback: Story: The Magic Stonefly | MidCurrent

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