Biology of Fly Fishing - Part 3
Saturday, 8 December 2018 | Paul G
Biology of Fly Fishing: Part 3 of "A Biohacker's Guide"
Bob Wyatt's "Trout Hunting" is a classic - but as well as impressionistic prey images, you need to know when to "whisper" and when to "shout" with your fly patterns. Because visual predators, such as trout, can refine and improve their prey-recognition rules, you need adaptable tactics. BUT - Isn't This System Only Useful For Pro Biologists???
Much more background (especially relating to classic knowledge on "prey image") is available in the special bonus lessons (not available in the standard email tutorials): Click Here To Subscribe
Catch Up on the Other Episodes
Reading The Water
This is often spoken about as an "Essential Skill" - which absolutely is. Unfortunately, there is very little useful guidance published on how to actually do it. I admit that it can be helpful to see diagrams which have points marked on it as likely holding spots - as that can help you to begin to build up your own store of those types of places. However, what that doesn't give you is a set of clues that let you recognize a new type of holding spot the first time you come across one. In other words, the first time you see something that doesn't look exactly like the diagram/photo...(which, let's face it, is exactly the case for most ACTUAL holding spots).
Here's where some basic biology helps - and one of the most universally applicable ideas is that a lot of interesting things tend to happen at the edges between two contrasting conditions. The borders between shallow/deep, fast/slow, shade/light and so on. Even in habitat that doesn't look particularly variable will have these kinds of edges. It's just a case of finding them. If you can couple those "edges" with a pace of water that is comfortable for fish to hold station in, some nearby cover and a decent food supply - then you can identify the places in the river that are more likely to hold trout.
The advantage of that rule is that it applies in so many different cases - and it is highly adaptable. You are not looking to find something that "matches" the perfect text book example picture - which is fortunate because holding spots for trout (and grayling) are essentially infinitely variable. It's much more important to understand the general concepts of what is valuable to fish (avoidance of predators and food that can be easily captured). When you understand the magnetic effect that "edges" have for both prey items and the predators that feed on them; then it becomes much easier to "sight read" a river the first time you see it.
"Biohacking": Adaptability and Picking up from Wyatt
I really enjoyed Bob Wyatt's book "Trout Hunting" and (as well as the really great poetic and philosophic angles; such as fishing/hunting continually offering "renewed opportunities to be hopeful") it's focus on impressionistic flies instead of super-realistic flies. One thing about it is that a lot of the examples would seem to be from wild fish that don't see a huge amount of human footfall. The idea is presented that fish either recognize your fly as "food" and are compelled to eat it - or they don't recognize it. That is a very useful concept and it is a much better foundation than the idea of the smart trout (the one that understands the idea of an angler trying to catch it - and being wily enough to pick out and reject the fake flies from the real ones via a type of logical thinking).
BUT - at the same time, the idea doesn't account for the experiments that visual predators (e.g. birds) can improve and refine their "search image" or "prey image" parameters, so that they get better at recognizing and eating particular prey. On top of that, there isn't a guiding mechanism that gives you hints on when to exaggerate certain features, and when to tone it down a bit (so as to avoid spooking fish).
That's where the whole "sliders" concept in the video comes in. The main power of that whole idea is just how infinitely adaptable it is - and the fact that it doesn't much matter if your opening tactic doesn't hit the mark. My system keeps spitting out alternative options that originate from the biological needs of the fish that you are targeting. It also really reduces the amount of different things you need to learn (as well as ensuring anything you DO learn is easy to fit into the overall picture and is certain to provide more value - rather than more confusion).
OK, I hope that, together with the Episode 3 Video (above)
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PS Please leave your comments and questions below to let me know whether this is "landing" with you - or there's stuff you disagree with or just isn't clear