Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr. 5  2005  


   Deep Nymphing with James Joyce?

  In the early 1970s approximately twenty miles due east of a tiny hamlet in upstate New York called Hamburg, I was standing waist deep in a very chilly private stream staring like a gambler at the Kentucky Derby finish line at my slack line slowly tightening. A red winged immature black bird and several butterflies were my only companions as my #18 Tail Water Sowbug fooled a wily 16 inch Brook Trout and the duel began...

  In the course of several wrist twisting minutes the resident big Brooky made numerous fine evasive moves and suddenly had me trying to keep my balance while avoiding super slippery smooth stream bottom rocks. Before I could catch my balance and move the now tiring trout into shallow slack water, I tripped and fell striking my head sharply and recalling the sight of the fish recuperated snapping off while entangling my line among the stream boulders...

  When I came around again a tall man wearing thick glasses's was standing over me smiling,
"Looks like you lost that battle young man, better get that head of your's looked at before you try and wrestle any more of these over educated trout!"

  Shafts of late morning sun reflected off the strangers thick glass's blurred my vision as I struggled to gain my balance and sat up feeling the big knot on the side of head, "My friends call me the Eagle, don't know why can't see forrest for tree's anymore. But, I did see that fine trout take you to school."

"What brings you out here on this pretty day sir?"

"Just trying to sort out a poem that keeps running through my Irish soul, good friend of mine from Paris, another avid fishermen named Hemingway thinks I should work this silly sonnet out."

"Some day I hope I'm smart enough to write something more then my shopping list?"

"Another old friend and by god a real poet Ezra Pound used to say a fishermen he knew, " Fished by obstinate Isles." Reminds me of watching you wrestle with that brook trout."

"Have you written about any crazy young men possessed of the demons that come from reckless youth spent at the end of fly rods?"

"I have indeed, a little tale on the order of Homers Odyssey in which a young man named Dedeilous gets himself caught up in all kinds of mischief. How a about letting me take a turn with that fine Bamboo your letting collect dust?"

  Within minutes the man with the thick glass's had fooled a colorful brook trout full orange flashing of 12 inch fury...

"You ever been to town called Dublin ? Seems like I have seen that mug of your's in the old Ale House?"

"The merry cuckoo, messenger of Spring,
His trumpet shrill thrice sounded."

Amorett (1595. Sonnet six)
Edmund Spencer 1552?-1599

  California has been visited to the extreme by the rain gods this season, as of this month all major reservoirs are nearing three quarter capacity which absolutely insures avid fly fishers extra consideration and caution. This state like many places in the world can experience periods of relative grace from above when rains occur as expected and volume is high with good snow pack. The major rivers from the mighty Sacramento River that now allows fly fishing year round in its splendid upper reaches, including the majestic Merced, American, Carson, Truckee, Walker, Yuba Rivers and smaller feeder streams flowing high and fast for at least another five to six weeks and that estimate is conservative.

  Early Season Fast Water Tactics
(Fly Medicine for the unwashed mass's)

  The river stream trout season begins here in California last Saturday of this month April 30th, those water hungry souls considering where to throw very deep diving nymphs, emergers, or creative streamers that can cover deep fast water, will find many great opportunities if they play by these simply rules.

1. Never attempt to wade any fast water that you don't know under any circumstances. Your safety and the safety of those who might have to save your dumb ass are far more important pilgrim.

2. If you learn how to judge where water current slows down as in places where large boulders exist or around fallen logs or where your creative expert stream current reading eyes can imagine water creating pockets where trout can conserve energy and wait for food to pass by. Simply learn to sit quietly and watch the water, you will begin to understand where these slower deeper places exist in areas where surface water is slack and quiet. After one or two successful hook ups your confidence will build, hopefully.

3. Many of the standard streamers from wolly buggers in black or olive patterns, Matusa patterns, Clouser minnow types flowing patterns, many emerging very buggy caddis patterns that almost look like streamers, yet are actually caddis, are superb patterns for taking early Spring deep trout. Depending on where you live local patterns including great patterns like Scott Sanchez's " Double Bunny in bright yellow, Mr. Bear Andrews " Bears Olive Zonker a great baitfish imitator. See these patterns and many others in Federation of Fly Fishers Fly Pattern Encyclopedia by Al & Gretchen Beatty. This is a special time of the year when creative fly fishers can dream up special patterns or Frankenstein scary bugs that illicit a trouts territorial fear response.

4. The contemporary fly tying trend towards more buggy- feathery, flowing live hackle flies is very sound thinking. I have been tying many patterns that are buggy and resemble live creatures. Let your Spring fly tying be more creative, Jason Akl a fine young master tier creates ugly black bugs that are deadly. Be creative and tie live, scary, ugly flies that induce fear, awe, shock response, instead of oh yeah another nicely tied mosquito so what. In my mind those fly tiers who tie to impress other fly tiers are like guys who marry gorgeous woman to impress other men? Next time your out on any stream use a strainer and scrape up some stream material under a rock and take a long look at the ugly imperfect buggy looking stuff in your muddy hand cowboy/cowgirl? Perhaps spending less time trying to match the hatch like the other 6 million sheep out there throwing flies. Why not begin to think out side the box and design new patterns with more unusual colors or legs, or palmered or smaller or think about the endlessness of this mind set?

5. Find your own isolated place as far away as possible from any and all human activity to fly fish alone and undisturbed for hours. If you managed this aspect, you my friend are more then 90% in the fly fisher intergalactic cosmic eco-conscious nirvana... Even if you neither caught or saw a trout!

6. Do you understand what deep nymphing means? I suggest a new fly fisher might consider buying at least ten different new bright colored strike indicators and practice using, throwing, watching all of them on your first two trips this year. If your not catching fish it is because your either not using the correct deep diving fly pattern or your not getting deep enough or your unable to see or feel or tell when a trout is hitting your fly.. This is why you must consider relearning basic skills like getting and staying down deep with the right pattern that you can see trout hitting for the entire length of your perfect 60 foot throw there Mr. River runs through it.... Alas if one learns how to properly use eco- safe split shot or any of the new eco- safe fly line weighting systems you will begin to truly enjoy fly fishing by actually catching fish... Many new brands of safe heavy putty type soft material are coming on the market each season. Buy the latest outdoor outfitter catalogues as well as the world wide web.

One possible method that can be effective in learning just how deep your fly is working is to practice over and over the following routine. In medium speed water, the kind of currents you find around mid season where ever you live. First get used to attaching and reattaching at least four different kinds of strike indicators. There are many kinds including a snap on and a rubber band held plastic bubble or a balsa bullet with tiny rubber on each end, the point is buy three or four. Now measure your length of tippet and your leader and the extra few inches above and begin throwing and watching exactly what your fly is doing? If you spend time watching how your fly moves along the bottom and have the good fortune of seeing a trout flash and take your fly while at the same instant noticing how your strike indicator jerks away will be a great visceral lesson. Nothing makes the complete fly fisher than complete confidence in skills and techniques. Refreshing ones skill bank is only prudent and sensible.


© Phil Frank 2002

Illustrated By Phil Frank,
San Francisco Chronicle Cartoonist, creator of "Farley "


  "In my time, the follies of the town crept slowly among us,
But now they travel faster than a stagecoach..."

Oliver Goldsmith 1730- 1774

  Fletcher Quill and his posse consisting of two world class invisible surfers and the Cowboy have been burning the San Francisco Fillmore rock palace candle at both ends as Quill is still doing a slow burn over the cowboy's rape of his beloved Arctic Wild Life Refuge for cheaper gas! Jive Boy and master fly tier Jason Aki have been getting a special vintage hard rock education from Quill who at one time was a resident rock historian at the fabled music venue.

  Among the local rock legends in attendance many old friends have been giving Quill and the boys and earful of Frisco left wing chin music and it appears the Cowboy has about had his fill! While Quill finishes one more Bill Graham tale of how New York moxy blew into town and led the naive peaceful newly hatched rock gods into the reality of hard cash and big time show biz. One of Fletchers old Marine Corps pals Warrant Officer (24 yrs global sniper) Duke Parker grabs the prodigal son's arm, " Hey man, this cat Claudio who says he owns Mill Valley Ferrari, claims he is your old running mate, wants to chat?"

"Claudio my main man, what's shaken Mr. Highspeed cool breeze?"

"Fletcher Quill home again, I got a surprise for you my friend. Out back I have parked three brand new red supercharged F1's and arranged with Marin County Highway Patrol to restrict all traffic going up Mount Tam from 3:30 am to 5:30 am. You and your boys and I can take a little spin old friend thanks to your friends in the Italian Consulate!"

"Man, your kidding, I gotta see this!" ( The whole crew with the Cowboy in tow adjourn to the Fillmore back parking lot and there waiting like Cher for another retirement tour sits roughly two million in cold blooded bad ass Itallian steel baby.)

"I don't believe it Fletch, you mean we can push these red dragons hard to the top of that spiritual mountain you always talk about without worrying about cops?"

"You got it Jive, here are some of my special driving CD's I always carry, you get "Slow Ride" Jason Aki gets "Highway to Hell" and your host who will be piloting the lead horse and carrying our new best friend Claudio cruising to "Velvet Revolver", Clapton's all ready bootlegged " Cream Reunited London Session's" and of course much " ACDC.
Gentlemen start your engines and lets get crazy!"

  This surreal scene in the slightly foggy late am will burn memories into these young men's souls not to be forgotten. Blinking yellow Highway Patrol car's as far as the eye can see down Geary continuing all the way to Lombard Street which heads straight to the fabled Golden Gate Bridge.

  A late night crowd of stunned onlookers have gathered as the supposed Presidential Motorcade composed of three bright red rocket ships capable of speeds in access of 200 miles an hour burn a steady three block roaring streak of smoke filled rubber and howling highly tuned supercharged Italian Stallions hell bent for the first leg of this incredible ride to the GG baby... (Erect a suicide barrior? Why not charge a fee?)

"Jason, you ok with this beast surfer dude?"

"Nothing to it but to do it Duke - I know you rode with Fletcher back in his hot rod days when he built the 32 Lowboy or the 55 Chevies, He can fly and we can fly. Back in Michigan I'm known as the fly tier who drives the bad ass loaded 40 Ford with the blown Hemi. My man Jive has been stealing his Daddies hot cars all his life."

  The three red flashes are now almost to the hard left turn that shoots toward Lombard, when Quill decides to grab third gear at 145 and light this ride up. Claudio has turned up Angus and the boys as Bon Scott screams, "She's a whole lot of Rosy - A whole lot of woman" As the three head in to the first hard left all three begin to slide at over 100 miles an hour and then bam back in the groove on Lombard next stop the worlds favorite suicide jump straight ahead in glowing orange.

"Jive so where did you learn to handle this kind of ride dude?"

"Man, I can't believe I'm driving this beast this fast and shooting the breeze with you Mr. President. Do you want to grab a hold of this flame for a few miles sir."

"No way dude, I fell off my dirt bike last week, no way. Ahh where are those special cigarettes again and ahh how about we play a little Stevie Ray Vaughan followed by Leonard Skinnerd my fly friend. Oh Know, man I think I forgot and left the Football" back in the Fillmore Green Room?"
(Football is super critical top security brief case all Presidents carry with nuclear launch codes.)

"Dude, the frigging launch codes left at the Fillmore, better call Quill and see who can get them back to you dude!"

  Mean while all three have flown down Lombard Street as more early am wasted revelers stand in small groups mouths open. Fletcher gets an emergency cell call from the Cowboy as the three red rockets fly through the Golden Gate Bridge toll booths, " Quill, man I screwed up bg time, left the " Football " back at the Fillmore- gotta get that puppy back pronto Kemosabi!"

"No Worries Mr. President, I know Keith Richards and Erik Clapton are still jamming."

"Keith, dude you gotta do me a huge favor bud, go into the green room and grab that neat alligator brief case and meet us over in Marin at " The Last Day Saloon".

"Dude, Eric and I just got into a very cool early "Cream" run and I been partaking a bit pal, so ahh I'll do what I can, maybe Eric will drive me, back to you post haste!"

  Now all three red rockets are flying down Hiway 101 heading for the Mt. Tam turn off and the final twisty tire screaming run to the top of this Marin County spiritual landmark. Suddenly Quill remembers another critical stop to make back in back in San Fran when this little fun ride ends...

"Claudio, man, I almost forgot in all this fun to pick up my rare copy of the "Book of The Dead" I left at Sharon's old place out at Sea Cliff, after we eat this mountain for breakfast lets adjourn to my new fancy digs right up the block from Robin Williams cave dude."

  This high speed scream up Mt. Tam reminds Quill of his motorcycle madman days when he and his brother Mike would wind up their turbo charged Kawasaki 900's and do the do baby, do the do... The view from atop this grand landmark is sublime though most of the young woman Quill escorted up this hill didn't have much time for the view baby...

"Tell me Mr. President, did you ever think you would have this much fun in San Francisco?"

"Hey, the Ball & Chain and I made many visits here back in the day. Hell I watched Fletchers ill fated, ill advised run for mayor in 83, man that was a gas- he almost kicked lady Di's butt big time in that little dealy."

"Jive, where is that Howlin Wolf tape Quill gave you?"

"Man, you ever hear Quill blow his blues mouth harp- that man can flat get funky dude, he jammed with Muddy Waters and knows the Robert Johnson song book like Madonna knows the Cabal dude."

  The boys now half way up Mt. Tam are getting down and dirty as all three come in to a turn almost together at 75 plus, breaks screaming, rubber burning, superchargers whining like Brad Pitt trying to get date with Angelina! Jason Aki takes the lead and Quill and Jive are right on his rear end....

"Man oh man, that surfer can move dude, so Duke Parker what kind of Marine was your buddy Quill?"

"Good question, simply put, he was a weapon carrying heart breaker life taker. He was one of my best and most crazy spotters in Nam. That guy would go anywhere with me. On more then one occasion we got into hot spots and had to shoot our way out. Never underestimate any Marine friend, first we are all expert riflemen and second either your best friend or worse enemy. Now I'm not saying old Fletcher did not,'t have his ups and downs in the Green Machine. But, like he always say's when I screwed up they always got their pound of flesh, always!"

  Now as the top of Mt. Tam comes into view its Jason and Jive neck and neck as Quill backs off to let the boys play...

"Claudio, man what a thrill driving this beast! I could just sit and listen to this engine all day and not even drive. I want to keep this one for me and park it at Sharon's old place out at Sea Clif, you knew I bought the joint for 16 big ones?. You guys tune it again and I'll give you my garage code, now lets enjoy this view before we hit the Last Day Saloon and prey Keith found the frigging Football!" Claudio slides in the Stone's live version of "Under May Thumb".

....Did Keith Richards find the football? What is next Frisco adventure for the bad boys?


Read about Fletcher Quill in earlier chapters:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 
13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21 
22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  
  32  33


Written by Dan Fallon © 2005
Illustrations by Phil Frank © 2003
Photos by Dan Fallon © 2005

For Dan Fallon's earlier and later columns; visit the table of contents


Read Dan Fallons biography and contact info



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