Reflections on the Single Fly

I enjoyed participating in the Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited Single Fly Tournament this past weekend with my friend, Eddie Esposito. Eddie taught me how to fish with nymphs many years ago. He taught me a lot more about other aspects of fly fishing. He is one of only a few people I know who would put in 27+ concentrated hours of fly fishing over a weekend for an event such as this one. In this tournament the angler and his/her partner strive to catch and release trout and tally their length. Each individual must select one pattern of fly for the entire two-day event. Three identical flies can be used over the course of the weekend. I enjoy the challenge of selecting a single pattern and then fishing it for two straight days. I think it teaches you a lot about fly fishing. Selection of the pattern is important for success, but once the choice is made, presentation becomes the critical factor. This weekend (particularly Saturday) the fishing was challenging because the water temperature was very warm – near 70º. Still, I managed to catch fish using several approaches. I dead-drifted my nymph both using tight-line methods and using an indicator. I hooked the majority of fish during the drift, but I also caught fish as the nymph swung toward the surface at the end of the drift. I caught a few fish on the dangle – after the nymph had swung up toward the surface and was just being suspended there in the current for a few seconds. I had a very dramatic strike on my weighted bead-head nymph as I swung it through the head of a pool like a wet fly – across and down. I had a few very subtle takes on the nymph during the retrieve – using both an intentional figure-eight hand retrieve and (without intent) just shortening the line for another cast. I tried successfully for fish at the head of the pool, at the tail of the pool and in between, in slow water as well as fast water, fishing deep and shallow. The point that I am trying to get across is that covering lots of water with varying presentations is as important if not more important than selection of the fly, even though we spend plenty of time and money on our selection of flies. An event like the Single Fly sheds a different sort of light on the search for the perfect pattern. When asked the question, “What is the best camera?”, I have heard more than one top photographer say, “The one that you have with you at the time.” So go ahead and ask me what’s my favorite fly?

Eddie walking out of the pool.
Eddie walking out of the pool.

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