Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr.9 2004  



 "A blind man in the dark room - Looking for a black hat - which isn’t there."  Lord Bowen 1835-1894

Photo by Dan Fallon ©

 I must confess to having endured this fly fisher malady caused by staring into the hypnotic lower depths of mesmerizing rivers, streams, creeks, lakes, mud holes and puddles thought to be home to game fish. Perhaps no other condition known to mankind can suddenly cause grown men and small boys let alone the woman folk to become almost comatose with the tell tale 500 yard stare and glassed over hypnotic trance like posture very much like that of shore birds standing still waiting for movement denoting dinner. (Deep Nymph-a-mania spelled with an a not an o.)

  At the tender age of around seven my uncle Dan the real cowboy in the family witnessed my not moving or turning my head fixated on several trout underneath the tree branch I was laying on, first seeds sown. This onset became much worse after years spent staring at moving water as if I had eye sight like Spiderman and could actually see that nymph or emerger fly many feet under water. Those fly fisher next of kind who see the above symptoms try to calmly move the patient (fixated fly-fisher) slowly toward his or her favorite chair and provide latest fly fishing brochures or the fly tying table might help to bring them back? Speak slowly and say things like, "Lets get your favorite Bamboo rod out and relive some great mornings ok big guy (or little gal)!"

  Those fly fishers who only work nymphs deep understand how difficult it is to begin to have an instinct or good eyes that never leave the strike indicator. I have known men who never used strike indicators and did land fine fish without bright yarn balls suddenly moving fast indicating a fish has hit the fly. Deep nymph work means learning to instinctively feel the slightest movement or detect the line jerking out suddenly. Many schools of thought exist on how exactly to work deep flies and not loose opportunities because hits are missed.

Photo by Dan Fallon ©


  Keep your slack line under control not taking in so much line you are effecting a dead drift or letting too much slack line take you out of the game because you cannot feel or see hits, a happy medium is nirvana? Where you fly fish is always the key of course, fast water or slow, stream or lake, early or late season are only a few of your considerations. If your still losing fish maybe your tippet is too light use a # 5 or #6 weight instead? Still not getting any hits or bumps, try another size smaller fly or begin more carefully working each section of the water your in. Many novice deep nymphers fail to understand how many missed fish occur because they are not changing either depth or retrieval routines. If you concentrate on covering ALL existent areas within casting distance always from afar moving toward you, leaving no water shadows or casting any profiles of you on the water your luck may suddenly change.

  Learning to see in a dark room or under dark fast water really translates via the fly fisher secret decoder to complete understanding of what a three pound fish will do to your heart and wrist without any warning other then a slight movement of your strike indicator. Learning to keep making adjustments to water depth, speed, kinds of common local insects and more important where to throw to holding fish. Most game fish like to linger in either deep holes where currents above move food their way, behind large rocks or under big trees. One must spend time sitting and studying where fish feed and rest to understand how to fly fish successfully.


  1.) Master knowing exactly what depth your nymph, emerger is going to be moving at? If this is difficult practice with measuring from the place you tie your strike indicator down to the bottom of your (clear) practice water. Then tie on a weight instead of a fly and practice feeling and actually watching your surface line react to the weight scrapping along the bottom. With practice you will begin to understand how to intuit the fish hitting your fly from surface waves or current tension, A simple but effective learning exercise even for journeymen fly fishers needing to retune.

  2.) Learn which of the known strike indicators works for you and what color, many people use yarn that is treated with floatant or tiny plastic contraptions plus new strike indicators that seem to appear almost monthly. The idea is you need to establish real trust and learn exactly how to rig your new true deep nymphing tool. This is another aspect that can be practiced before actually depending on something that is an unknown. Buy three different style strike indicators and spend time trying each one in water you fly fish in, confidence is the complete fly fishers true companion and simplicity...

  3.) Retrieval methods versus dead drifting is a classic nymph fly fisher riddle that is always open for debate. I have caught as many big fish or more using any of the many pause and twitch or pause and strip quickly techniques that are simple to learn. If your dead drift is not effective after ten drifts, try at first small quick movements every ten feet and then very by letting the fly drift counting to twenty and then twitching or strip it hard and wait another five seconds and so on and very this cadence every cast. This at times can change your day and put you on fish, don’t be afraid to experiment while working any deep fly of any kind, in fact don’t be afraid to experiment with any aspect of fly fishing is the best advise.

  4.) The visibility of your tippet or final line tied to your fly is of absolute consideration all the time not just in clear water. If you use at least a #6 weight for trout and if necessary go down to #7 if no fish are hitting and see if that helps. If you go any lighter then #7 weight (two pound test) your looking to loose big fish, take several strips of different weight tippets and hold them under fast moving stream, creek and you will understand which are more effective. If you early on establish the habit of pretesting all your fly fishing gear before working fly waters, many stream side fowl ups can be avoided grasshopper!

  5.) If you begin to try and imagine exactly where big fish might be holding as in their usual haunts, its not the biggest mystery on the planet where big fish hold to feed or save energy. They usually can be found in deep water that has fast current near by or over head to bring a constant stream of possible bug offerings their way.

  Under or just next to large boulders or bends in the stream or almost any where along the water edge in undercuts you can’t see or under large trees is usually home to fish. If you begin by studying where the water currents meet after colliding and slowing just a little, that is where many fish are waiting for insects, nymphs.


© Phil Frank 2002

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


Quill’s new significant other her blondness Sharon (awfully high maintenance) Stone is busy packing and mumbling to herself as she prepares to leave the following morning for location work on her next epic "Return Of The Zombies".

  "Love this castle, wish I owned this little chunk of anti Hollywood! Quill and his precious boy pals out playing on the water like good boys my happy keister. I know those three are up to something and it ain’t throwing those perfect flies of his at innocent fish."

Staff approaches and reminds her Blondness Quill, Jive Boy, Jason Aki and Slick Brainy will be back for dinner and Quill’s illustrious next door neighbor X President Phil may be joining the fly fisher adventurers as well though he has been complaining of chest pains of late?

VP, Slick Brainy’s coal black RCIA chopper glistens in the reflected stream light as Slick continues to play a nice Brown trout caught on his "Elvis Streamer", while Jive Boy and master fly tier Jason Aki wait with net and camera, "looking good Mr. Vice President, now head em in closer and he is yours. Think you scared em to death with that convention fire and brimstoner of a speech you gave last night sir. "

  "Jason call me Slick and get that net ready, here we go. "The sixteen inch Brown is gently guided into the net and Jive Boy snaps photos while the fish is revived and let go.

  "Where is Quill boys? Have not seen him all morning, have you?"

  "No sir, he usually likes to keep his distance on the water, lets hope no more of those fairy dudes grab him!"

  "Jason how the hell do you put those killer ugly black - bug things together, tell your VP? "

  "When we get back to Ravens Haven, lets work this out in Quill’s fly tower, man that tying room is way over the top. Do you have time to tie any patterns Slick? "

  "Jason I got a whole world full of knots to play with son. You seem to have that down pat, does your wife ever get a bit edgy with you tied to the tying table?"

  "Just married sir, besides with friends like Fletcher she can’t complain too much. Quill tells me the Govanator is a large fan of Martha’s will be dropping by next week, looks like once again California leads the way in the most super hero like characters! Back in my little town in the mid west we don’t have movie star super hero’s, one quick question Slick was that five draft deferments or six?"

Mean while Fletcher is teasing a Brown trout that has to be at least two feet long and deep in the twenty pound plus range with his Sinatra fly way up in a canyon over a mile away, he begins to see the sun going down and decides to let the huge trout hit his precious fly. Just as the Marlon Brando size bug is taken his cell phone rings,

  "Quill, Keith here, thought you might like to hear the good news on Charley and his throat problem, we think he is going to be ok!"

  "Man, glad to hear that, just hooked into a serious Jenny Craig size trout, have to get back to you in a few minutes." The big brown hooks and dives into almost impossible depths down in the rocky bottom of the tall fast running creek while Quill stays with him every inch of the way at times swimming and following him under water with no line left on the reel... This continues for several minutes as the brown rests and takes off again on another twenty yard run deep into line snapping depths.

Quill and his big boy are now in fly fisher heaven as his mates come up over the hill and settle in to watch the master work.

  "Man oh man, that grey haired old man can play serious catch and release, Jive you ever seen anyone as sharp with behemoth fish?"

  "Quill is the man, wow, now he is down to the backing and almost chin high in that very cold water."

After reviving and letting the big trout resume his tranquil life all three fly friends sit and just stare at the clear water stream that belongs to the Northern Ireland Wild Trout Conservation group that allows Fletcher and Slick access. Now all three cell phones go off at once and as usual break the purity of the moment. Jive Boy stands up and throws his in the stream and then wades in after it.

  "Fletcher Quill can I help you."

  "Fletcher Quill no less, Martha Steward at your service sir, I have just arrived at your magnificent castle and cannot express my gratitude."

  "Nice to hear your voice Martha, staff has arranged your quarters and noted your diet preferences. Please make yourself at home my fly buddies and I will be on site shortly."

  "One tiny question Fletcher, do you know you have other castle guests who just arrived after my launch pulled away. They or rather whatever one calls extremely short people these days are I hate to sound politically incorrect a distinct greenish color?"

  "Thanks for the FYI Martha, will explain when we face to face in about an hour Sharon will keep you busy until we get back."

Martha finishes unpacking and begins her careful assessment of the castle and especially its ultra modern kitchen. Staff cringes and bows as her perfectness lifts and drops eyebrows like Oprah drops pounds... Timba hiding under his favorite window seat peaks out at Martha like she is an invading mouse, poor Timba has been under constant stress with her Blondness on board, he now has one more special female to contend with!


(Will little green dudes and Timba bond? Can Quill survive Martha and Sharon and the aliens? The Govonator is coming?)


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


Written by Dan Fallon © 2004
Illustrations by Phil Frank © 2003
Photos by Dan Fallon © 2004

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


Read Dan Fallons biography and contact info



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