Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Old Dogs, New Tricks - "Discovering" the Chattooga

Well, you might say I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century of fly fishing.  And I'll have to admit that my resistance has been due to my own prejudices.  Mind you, I'm a nymph fisherman from way back so getting down has never been an issue for me.  What I didn't like was this new "Euro" stuff with long (really long!) leaders, brightly colored line segments called "sighters", no split shot (NO SPLITSHOT!) and light weight, super long fly rods like 10 foot 3 and 4 weights.  What happened to casting?  I love casting a fly rod!  It's a vital part of my fly fishing experience.  Shoot, if the fish are biting, I can have fun just practicing my cast.  Maybe not quite as much fun as catching but I ain't bored.  Casting a Euro rig is like throwing pumpkins with a catapult.  No beautiful loops unrolling over the river.  No gentle presentation of a weightless fly on the water.  If they had used Euro nymphing in "A River Runs Through It", no one would have ever gone to see the movie.  You just fling that sucker behind you, wait until it almost pulls the rod out of your hand then fling it forward.  At the last second on the forward cast, you abruptly stop the rod tip high so your flies are literally jerked down into the water with more momentum than a .22 bullet headed to the bottom.  THUNK!
 The promised land where more fish than you could have ever imagined are just sitting there amongst the rocks waiting on that Walt's Worm at the end of your line.  Does this sound like fun to you?  Maybe, but it has a lot to do with how old you are.  And therein lies a significant problem.

I'm past the midway point of my seventh decade on this big blue marble.  I've been here longer than I'm gonna be and for considerably more than half of this time I've been fly fishing.  Fly fishing the way you're supposed to fly fish.  No, not that narrow-minded British idea of only fishing dry flies, upstream, to rising fish.  I'm talking about the way we do it here in America.  The right way.  Dry flies when appropriate, dry droppers when you don't have a clue what's going on, or two nymphs with split shot and a strike indicator when you're really serious about rippin' lips.  We all know this.  It's how we've always done it so it's got to be right.

Many of you may recall a few weeks back when Unicoi Outfitters invited George and Amidea Daniel down for a couple of days of seminars based on George's book "Dynamic Nymphing".  I liked these folks from the first time I met them and figured we could give their career a big boost by having them come to Georgia.  Not that I was particularly interested in what he had to say, just wanted to be nice.  Plus, I'm not stupid.  I do realize the younger crowd is enamored with his techniques so it would increase traffic in the shop.  Worked like a charm.  We had a great weekend with them and I got an autographed copy of his book.  Figured maybe one day it would be a collectors item.

So, back to the topic at hand.  I apologize for the long explication but I needed to set the stage.  My fishing pal Jeff Durniak (aka The Dredger) was headed to the Chattooga this past Saturday and invited me to join him.  Curiously, he informed me that he was taking his new Euro-nymphing rod with the intention of trying out some of the things George had spoken about in the seminars.  I'm thinking, "Why?".  You already spend most of your time fishing on the bottom and, as we all know, you're pretty darn successful at it.  You're just trying to act like a youngun but I know you're almost as old as I am.  Maybe a decade or so less but you're old.

The next three hours can only be described by stating, "A whoopin' was a throwed on me."  I didn't have a bad afternoon at all but I have to tell you that Mr. Euro probably caught at least 4 fish to every one I caught.  And, uh, two of the fish I caught were using his rod.  You know, the whole technique is just kind of funky but I have to admit there is something intriguing about feeling those flies bumping along the bottom and, even more, detecting a subtle strike through that tight line.  I'm not really into counting fish or declaring my success or failure based on how many fish I catch.  But I could be convinced to add another club to my bag of trout tricks.  Who knows, maybe I'm not as old a dog as I thought.  Now pardon me while I check my catalogs to see which new rod I want to buy.

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