Sunday Classic / Georgia Man Catches Trout On Car Key, But Why?

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This Is Not A Fly - photo 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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13 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Georgia Man Catches Trout On Car Key, But Why?

  1. That is awesome man. I couoldn’t agree more with your point of view. Kind of like gear f*gs. Have all the best gear and the car is all stickered up and couldn’t catch a cold…. they give me a dity look with my indicator and duct taped wadders..funny thing is they end up standing next to me asking me what I’m using!!!

  2. This reminds me of an article I read years ago about a guide for pike who wanted to prove a point to his charges. He made lures out of a toothbrush and a shoe horn. They worked!!

  3. Great post. I’ll have to come back to this in August when I start to give the patrons in the fly shop that 1000 yard stare i’m regionally famous for.

  4. That is awesome! Love it. Can’t stand some people that fly fish and their egos. Its all about having fun! Not who is the biggest badass on the river.

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  7. I’m going to catch a brown with a duckling pattern fly, then a banana peel next… no joke. Someone said I couldn’t. Great piece, Louis! This is something that needed writing. Moreover, it needs reading by many,

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