by John Evans
(San Antonio, TX)

Stealth is Key

Stealth is Key

Imagine that you and your family are just sitting down to a scrumptious supper. Everyone is starving, and the meal spread before you includes all your favorites. Suddenly there’s a rude crash at your front door, and an intruder breaks in.

You were starving before, but now hunger has been replaced by fear. The last thing on your mind at this point is the supper you were focused on just a few seconds before.

This illustration helps us understand what happens when we forget the importance of stealth in fishing. Put simply, the more I fish, the more I understand the value of quietness and patience in presenting a fly. To say it another way, when I move slowly and cast gently, I catch more fish.

When we go crashing through the woods and splashing into the water like a cannonball, we shouldn’t be surprised when the fish scatter and refuse to strike. No magic fly or worm will overcome a fish’s prey response when it feels threatened.

This point was emphasized in my mind a couple of weeks ago when I observed a fellow angler working a stream. Well, “working” may be the wrong word . . . more like pulverizing. He whipped the water to a froth while making enough noise to rattle windows in the next town. As he passed me (mercifully), I heard him grumble, “The fish just aren’t biting today!” Hmmm . . . wonder why?

It’s also important to watch your shadow and the play of your line. One difficult skill to master is getting the fly to land before the line. If the leader slaps the water, most fish rush to cover. Yes, I know that sometimes you’ll catch fish even when you do everything wrong, but stealth will improve your catch . . . especially with wary species. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that stealth and presentation count for much more than fly pattern.

So, next time you go fishing, remember that supper illustration, and mind your approach. We want the fish to feed, not flee. Stealth is key.

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“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
Col. Robert Venables 1662

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


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