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You’ve probably seen it before.
You are on the river or lake. You see all kinds of insects flying around. You see bugs in the air, bugs on the water.
Right about then you’re thinking, “I need to match the hatch” to catch these fish.
Which for the uninitiated means try to match the live flies you are witnessing with a good imitation.
Maybe. Or, maybe you need to go 180 the other direction.
Stay with me here…
Let’s say you are seeing (like somebody I know that was recently on the Blackfoot River in Montana who shall remain nameless so as not to embarrass him but his initials are Ron) tons of Caddis flies.
I mean, it’s like snowing Caddis flies.
You immediately tie on an Elk Hair Caddis and start looking for rising trout to cast your offering toward.
Hmm, no risers. This is crazy. All of these bugs on the water, yet not a riser.
I cast, er, I mean, you cast the Caddis anyway in hopes of a hookup. Never happens. I, uh, you might cast for 30 minutes straight, positively believing you are doing the right thing. You never even see a fish rising. What the heck??
You switch to a Caddis Emerger pattern, thinking maybe the fish are eating the subsurface bugs that are trying to escape the water and take to the air.
Even though you know better, because you haven’t seen any of those living fish missles rise up and half jump out of the water that are the usual telltale sign of fish chasing rapidly rising bugs, but you hope against the odds.
Nothin. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Goose Eggs.
Scratching your head, staring at the bugs in the air and the lack of fish on the water, you dig through your fly boxes, mumbling something about being humbled by a fish with a brain the size of a small green pea.
You wonder how in the world the fish could not be up and eating with all of those bugs on the water. Flabbergasting.
Then, it hits you. Like a ton of wooly buggers!!
“This is just like that time I was on the Big Hole River and out of frustration I tried something entirely different. I went 180 degrees from what should have worked and started catching fish!”
And that, my friends, is how I came up with what I call “The 180” factor.
So, I tied on a streamer, and sent it swimming. A streamer is a sub-surface fly, often imitating a minnow, or crawfish, or leech or worm — lots of things.
Sure enough, second cast it’s fish on, and my client is doing battle with a beautiful brown trout.
The rest of the day we caught fish, but never saw a single riser or one eating on the surface.
The moral to the story, my fishing friends, is this: Don’t be afraid to fly fish in the face of conventional wisdom.
Just because you think the fish should be feeding on a certain type of bug, doesn’t mean they are.
Change up and go the other direction if you aren’t getting any action, and it just might pay off.
Sharp Hooks and Tight Lines,
I'm a fly fishing guide in Montana. One of my greatest pleasures in life is introducing people to fly fishing — watching them catch their first fish on a fly, and watching them 'get it' when it all comes together. I love sharing what I've learned in an easy-to-understand manner.