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The Art of the Dry Fly ~ Vintage Fishing Report

Joel La Follette - Thursday, August 10, 2017

English Branch of Water Sport Is Delicate One. 
W. F. Backus Tells Some Fine Points in Attracting Fish by Artificial Bait; Anglers Now Seek Choice Spots in State.


Just imagine yourself on your favorite trout stream, near one of those rippling pools that ends in a quiet bit of water before breaking into another riffle. You stand below the break, and can barely make out the boulders in the still deep water just above. Your rod is set up, with the casting line well greased to keep it on the surface. Your leader is made up of gut strands of gradually lessening diameter, ending with a piece almost as fine as hair. At the end of this gossamer cast you fasten the daintiest fly imaginable, no larger than a half-opened violet bud, with a fuzzy yellow body and a pair of pearl gray wings cocked bolt up right in a most jaunty fashion. With your eye on the lazy water some 50 feet beyond you commence working out this cast, sending the little fly whizzing back and forth, but never touching the water. Finally, as the fly stretches out at the end of the forward throw, you see that it is hovering just above the desired spot. Then you get your feet well braced, make an extra careful cast and the fly settles calmly on the unruffled surface of the pool.

Fly is Snapped Up

In perfect tune with the sluggish flow it comes drifting toward you. Its pert little wings set at a most tantalizing angle, while your left hand is kept very busy taking care of the slack line. Then just as you decide that it's time to retrieve, there is a flash, a snap, and the fly has disappeared in the maw of a hungry trout, who promptly raises a most welcome fuss. That is dry fly fishing, the very highest branch of angling.

This style of fishing had its inception in England, where the nature of the streams is such as to make Impossible any other method of fly fishing. Their so-called chalk streams are very clear, of shallow depth and with very slow and uniform current. The fish feed almost entirely on the insects which hatch along the banks of the stream, and to fool them you must present a mighty close Imitation. English fly tyers have devoted years of patient study to the making of floating flies, and some of their copies are of a microscopic exactness. They will take a fly no larger than a good-sized mosquito and duplicate exactly every shade of color, and the general shape of the legs and body.

The favorite method of fishing there is to discover a rising trout and then put their fly over him with all the skill at their command. Not only must the fly drop lightly and naturally, but n must float down stream in perfect ac cord with the current Any drag on such smooth water Is fatal. As most of the English streams are open, it Is often necessary to crawl on hands and knees in order to get a good cast without being seen.

English Flies Too Small
On most of our Western streams such tactics would be entirely out of place, but there Is no disputing the fact that most excellent dry-fly fishing can be had on certain portions of many of our best streams. A few changes in tackle, however, would be necessary, for instance. It strikes me that the favorite English flies are too small. On account of the extremely clean and comparatively shallow water, their flies are tied on No. 12 and 14 sneek hooks. I believe that for our fishing dry flies dressed on No. 10 and 12 sproat hooks would get better results. Our streams are just as clear, it Is true, but there is nearly always some motion to the water, and the ever-present, foliage tends to darken many of the pools For these reasons it would seem that flies a trifle larger than the favorite English sizes would be better suited to our waters.

Your regular rod and line will do for this fishing, provided the line is heavy enough to carry up well.

The leader must be at least six feet long, while a nine foot is even better, and if tapered to a fine point will work admirably. Tapered leaders are expensive and rather hard to find, so an excellent substitute can be had by attaching a six-foot light midge leader to a three-foot length of medium weight gut. In this way the difference between the heavy line and the fine gut is gradually equalized, and a more delicate cast is sure to be the reward.

Prescription Ought to Do
With an outfit such as I have described, and an assortment of No. 10 double-wing floating flies, including, the Coachman, Governor, Black Ant, Flying Caddis and Blue Upright. I believe you can get some high-class sport on most of our streams. At any rate I intend to try my own prescription on the McKenzie very shortly, and may have some stories to tell a little later.

Portland anglers are now making excursions to all corners of the state. Dr. E DeWltt Connell and E. O. Mattern left recently for a trip to Alsea Bay, and are prepared to handle anything from a 10-inch trout to a 50-pound salmon. The Chinook salmon have begun to enter the bays along the coast, so these anglers are quite likely to find the big fellows waiting for them.

Devereaux Expects “Time”

E. L. Devereaux is another local angler who expects to have a big time next week, as he left for the McKenzie River a few days ago, taking along enough bucktail flies to feed a hundred hungry trout. This grand river should be at its best during the next few weeks, and E. L. will probably get his share.

Bass fishing at Sucker Lake has been good this week, and the fish are taking more interest in artificial lures. Dick Coles took six fine ones there during an evening's casting, one of which weighed almost four pounds.

Clackamas is Prolific
The Clackamas River has yielded several good catches during the past 10 days, in spite of the fact that it is still too high for real good fishing. Herman Schneider, who hands out the anglers' licenses at the Courthouse, brought in a fine basket last week. He had 42 fish, all of nice size, with a few of the long ones we are all looking for, and he caught them all on flies. That old reliable fly the Gray Drake, proved the most attractive to the trout, and most of his fish were taken on this pattern.

Fishing on the coast rivers is improving dally. As the vacation season approaches, these streams are sure to be visited by many local anglers, as the getting there is now an easy matter. You can hardly go wrong In selecting any of the Tillamook streams for an extended trip. The fish there take the fly very eagerly and there are still enough of them to make things interesting for you.

This report come from the pages of the Sunday Oregonian circa June 23, 1912

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