Today we continue our series of weekly posts straight from The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing – a new collection of 250 nuggets of fly fishing wisdom from Kirk Deeter and the late, great Charlie Meyers. We’re lucky enough to have gotten permission to post some excerpts from the book – read on!
Our tip for the day is a big one related to nymphing – change your weight before you change your fly.
If you find this kind of this useful, you can pick up your copy of The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing right here.
I have never met an angler who doesn’t like or respect Pat Dorsey. For those of you who do not know Pat, he is, hands down, the hot stick guide on the trout rivers closest to Denver, namely the highly technical Cheesman Canyon section of the South Platte River, the Dream Stream section of the Platte (up in South Park), the Williams Fork of the Colorado (near Kremmling), and pretty much anywhere else he chooses to guide. He literally wrote the book on fly fishing the South Platte.
The fact that Pat is almost uniformly recognized as the best guide in one of the busiest trout fishing regions in America is tall praise. Despite that, he remains humble, hard working, and amazingly open with his bag of tricks. The most important lesson he ever shared came on a crowded day near Deckers—one of those days when conditions were challenging, the fish were stubborn, and the place was packed with so many anglers, we simply didn’t have the option of bouncing from one run to the next. We had to make do with the water right in front of us.
Pat tied on a double-nymph rig, with an RS2 and a Black Beauty. Three casts, and nothing. Pat suggested we add a “fuzz” more weight to the rig. A few more casts, and nothing still. I suggested we switch flies, as we knew the run we were working held fish. Maybe they just didn’t like our flies. No, insisted Pat, we’ll add a little more weight. Several more casts, nothing. He added yet another BB and, two casts later, we tied into a hefty brown trout.
That fish had been there all along. We never switched fly patterns. What we did was find the right weight balance that made those flies finally drop perfectly into the trout’s feeding zone. It was an offer the fish, ultimately, could not refuse. “Weight,” said Pat, “is the most important factor when you are fishing with nymphs. I might cast 100 times with different flies, but if the weight isn’t right, it won’t work. When the weight is right, the fly will almost always work.”
Think about that the next time you’re frustrated at the edge of a run you know holds trout. Think about your weight before switch fly patterns. It’s probably worth 10 weight adjustments before any single fly change, especially when you are casting at educated and challenging trout. After all, Pat explained, “The difference between a good fisherman and a great one is often no more than a BB.”