This book is for trout fishermen, not necessarily for fly fishermen, although fly-fishing dominates. There are times where fly-fishing is not the ideal method of fishing for trout, although most times fly-fishing is the best option.
In my view trying to teach someone who is new to trout fishing to fish with fly-fishing gear will not have the desired result of showing them what it is that gives the fly fisherman so much pleasure. Catch a few fish with spinning, trolling, jigging, etc. gear first and then the conversion to the ‘one true trout fishing method’ is easy.
As I began to write this book there was a TV advertising campaign running for a bank. The commercials were all based on a similar theme. The ‘star’ of each commercial was working and saving to reach their objective – a car, a house or an overseas trip. Working and saving while their friends were having a good time.
The objective achieved, envious friends gathered round and said how ‘lucky’ the star was to achieve what they had achieved. The star looks away into the distance, and the caption comes up "luck has nothing to do with it".
By reputation fishing is an activity where luck supposedly plays a major hand in determining success or failure. My view is that, just as in the bank’s commercial, luck should be the smallest factor in the success of any fishing trip, and for a trout fishing trip in particular.
In any form of fishing – salt or fresh water – fishing where fish are not will result in catching no fish. There is no luck attached to this. Well, OK, you may pick a 'spot' at random and drop your fly, lure or bait into the midst of some fish, and this is sheer luck – Lotto fishing.
But to successfully catch fish more often, luck must be removed or at least substantially reduced in the success formula.
Trout have not evolved very much over the past millennia. They simply have not needed to. Like sharks they are masters of their liquid environment. Because trout are so well adapted, the conditions that support their life are clearly defined. By learning these conditions an angler can learn to predict where fish are most likely to be found, most often. It is no accident that most rivers, streams and lakes have areas where trout can be found on a regular basis. The fisherman who learns the habits and the most desirable habitat of his quarry will find fish to fish to, most often.
This is the first part of the equation – the second is finding what fishing method and lure or fly to use that will most likely tempt the fish into biting. Again it is no accident that by gaining some knowledge of what trout are most likely to be feeding on at any one time, inducing one to bite your offering becomes more certain. There is little luck involved.
This then, is the purpose of my book - by the time you have read this book you too will believe that to achieve your fishing objectives, "luck has nothing to do with it".
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My original plan when I first began to write this book was to cover the basic methods of trout fishing – fly-fishing, spinning, trolling, harling and jigging – as separate sections and chapters. As I began to write I discovered that my plan did not in fact fit what I was setting out to achieve.
The most successful fishermen I know – in fresh or salt water – all have the same things in common. They all know where fish are likely to be at any one time, they know the best bait or lure to try and tempt those fish, and they know the best way of presenting a lure or bait to those fish. They will change their fishing method to match the existing fishing conditions.
So this book is not devoted to one method for catching trout, nor is it divided into sections covering each potential fishing method. It does cover fly-fishing, spinning, harling, trolling and jigging, but only as possible methods of hooking fish once they have been located. Each method can provide clues that can turn a so-so day into a great day by applying new or adapted techniques from other methods to increase your catch rate.
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Catch and Release Dogma
Most aspects of human endeavour have collected their share of dogma and cant.
Trout fishing is one sport where a short-sighted, blinkered view of how things could and should be done is rife amongst a self appointed ‘elite’.
One aspect these dogmatists latch onto with total disregard for the fishery they are fishing in, is catch and release. According to them, all trout should be released in any water, anywhere. This is nonsense.
(In fact strict adherence to C & R in all trout water may indeed kill off the sport - a number of European countries now ban Catch and Release.)