Trip Report - 12-26-14

Why do we camouflage our flies? Does that really make any sense? Don't we want the fish to see them?

Think about this for a minute. Why are live nymphs black or dark gray? So the fish are less likely to see them. If they were fluorescent chartreuse, or hot pink they would be easier to see and would get eaten! If we try to imitate the color of natural nymphs we are imitating their camouflage! Is that what we really want to do? We want our flies to be eaten. To be eaten they have to be seen. They are easier to see if they are brightly colored.

It is well known that trout can see colors. The water depths that we fish in streams are shallow enough that there isn't much color shift so we can assume that what we see, they see (actually they see a wider color range than we do). We can easily tell that a bright, chartreuse nymph is not a natural, but the trout don't seem to be that discriminating. 

I have read many comments that suggest the size and form of a fly is more important than the color. I suspect that for trout that are feeding opportunistically, color is not at all important. Or rather, color is not a turn off. Brighter colors may be much more likely to attract than repel.

Really, that's the only explanation I can give for the surprising effectiveness of Coach's Green Goddess on wild brown trout in New Jersey. Nothing they see in nature is that bright a green. The fly really is surprisingly effective, though, so they must not care that it's chartreuse. It's much easier for them to see so it's more likely to get eaten.

Similarly, nothing the trout see in nature is the same bright pink as the pink chenille worm I've written about in recent reports. It, too, is surprisingly effective. Thinking back to when I fished it a lot, about the time I first started tenkara fishing in 2008, the only reason I stopped fishing it was that I missed a lot of the strikes. I was sure at the time that the fish hit a part of the worm that didn't have a hook in it. (I'm beginning to think there may be another factor, though, which will be covered in my next trip report).

When I fished the pink worm a few weeks ago I think I caught two trout and a fallfish on it, but I didn't fish it for very long. I also missed a few fish and thought that the size 32 hook I'd used in it wasn't that effective.

Last weekend, I fished a couple pink worms tied with size 12 hooks, and I missed each of the fish that hit them. When I tied on a worm made out of rubber leg material, with a size 30 hook, I caught the only fish that hit it. The smaller hook worked fine.

On Friday, I had a very good day with the Green Goddess and the pink worm - possibly the best day I've ever had on that stream (how's that for late December!). Had I landed all the fish that hit the flies, it would have been my best day by far. The bright colors certainly didn't hurt!

A lot of the fish were caught on the pink worm with a size 32 hook. Although I missed a lot of strikes, I don't think I missed a greater percentage than I did years ago. The small hooks weren't any WORSE than the larger hooks.

On Friday I fished all day with the Suntech Field Master 44. The first time I had fished the rod it was strictly with a keiryu rig. This time was with a tenkara line. It really does work both ways, although I think I like it better as a keiryu rod than as a tenkara rod. The bend characteristics of the Daiwa Kiyose 43M, which is very similar to the Field Master 44 with respect to weight, length and penny ratings, make it a bit nicer choice for tenkara fishing in my opinion.

Whether you fish size 32 hooks or size 12 hooks, and whether you fish nymphs or san juan worms, try some bright colors. You might be very surprised by what you can catch if you don't camouflage your flies.

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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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