When I first started fly fishing, it took me 45 minutes to rig up. I’m not kidding you! Tying knots took forever and undoubtedly, I would tangle up something and have to restart etc. Don’t judge me! I was a real dork on the river. My problem was that I wasn’t used to tying knots and didn’t have the manual dexterity with 6x, 7x tippet. A good friend of mine told me that if I wanted to fish more, rig less; that I needed to practice my knots. So, on a flight to the east coast, I left my laptop in the bag, and took some 6x tippet, a hook and some nail clippers and tied knots for the entire 4-hour flight. I think the lady next to me thought I was weird! It paid off! I could now rig up much, much, much faster!
But….I realized that just because I could change flies, I didn’t change flies very often. I got pretty stubborn with my “confidence” flies and would fish those all the time. Even if I wasn’t catching anything that day, I knew I had caught fish on these flies, on this river, at this time, so maybe it just wasn’t my day and I shouldn’t change out flies. I did change my weight and depth of strike indicator all the time because they were pretty easy. I like the Dinsmores split shot because they are easy to use forceps to open up the weight and remove or move. I also have gotten to love Airlock strike indicators. I’ve used Palsa indicators which are great but slide around too much. The small Airlock indicators don’t kink up on the leader and are really easy to move. Just be careful with the little nut! They are easy to lose.
Changing flies was always a long decision process for me. Now that the barrier of tying the knots was gone, it was the mental battle of deciding which fly to switch out to? Do I tie on a Baetis, or do I just tie the “super flies” that look like many different bugs? Do I move spots? Do I change out my flies and go with something I’m not so confident in?
Then…. I met Mike Ryan from DiscountFlies.com. When you fish with Mike, you don’t do the normal thing of staying with what works. He loves testing flies. If I was catching fish on a particular fly, I would keep using that fly until it was so torn up that I needed to change, then tie on the same fly. Not Mike, if he caught a fish, he would remove that fly, and tie on a different fly, just to see if the new one worked as well as the first. I guess when you fish with a guy who owns an online fly shop, you wouldn’t be surprised to see that he is ALWAYS changing. “If you cast to a fish and he refuses your first couple of casts, change out”, is what Mike told me on the Colorado River a few weeks back. I caught more fish, when I changed out my flies more often.
I’m happy I can tie knots faster, but I have this little voice in my head that sounds a lot like Mike, and I hear “Change out your fly!”. The cynic could say that he wants you to buy more flies and tippet. Maybe, but I think Mike just wants you to catch fish.
So, to change or not to change, that is the question!