Lately I must have been giving too many flies away (and sure, a few were “given” to trees too!). Yesterday I went fishing with some friends and this was what my fly box looked like when I arrived. I had only 7 flies to use for the few hours I would be fishing, and each one was identical in size, color and shape. Size 8 Oki kebari.
Four years ago (WOW! Typing that just made me feel like time is flying way too fast…pun totally intended), I wrote a post about finally letting go of my “just-in-case” flies. It was a turning point for me. After 12 years of being indoctrinated in matching-the-hatch, and one year after learning that I could use one fly (or, rather, any fly), I was finally gaining some confidence in the approach.
It had nothing to do with tradition, rather, it was a step I saw toward liberation. How cool would it be to learn how to use my fly and not worry about hatch books or stopping by a shop to ask what to use? On that post, I also posed the question: “If you only had one fly pattern in your box, could you still catch fish? If you ran out of your “go-to” fly pattern, would you feel okay and continue fishing, or would your day be ruined?”
While I continue to call it a “one fly” approach, in reality I have carried with me 4 variations of what could be considered the same pattern. A dark and a light-colored size 12, a size 16, and a size 8 (the 4 flies that we sell here). Mostly because I do believe size can make a difference. So from the beginning of my one-fly journey I have decided I’d at least carry the 3 sizes of flies.
Yesterday, when we arrived on the stream, I opened my box, and that’s what I saw. My only thinking was, “today will be a true one-fly day”. It was fun not to change flies a single time. It was not exactly a new experience for me. I have fished many days without changing flies a single time. But, it was an interesting experience to have no other flies to even think about. In the course of 2 hours I proceeded to fish in a way that only comes from paying attention to the water in front of you; and nothing else.
So, how would you feel if you arrived on the water and your fly box was like that? Nearly empty and completely devoid of variation. Would you turn around and go buy more flies? Or, would you just fish?
If fish will be what I am after when I go fishing, I will be worrying. As catching fish is “only” the reward, I’ll fish equally. In the end I only use a few ones, having less choices won’t bother me much more.
Daniel, I live approximately 3 – 5 hours from the closest trout streams. So, I try to go prepared. By that I mean, there are certain flies (Western) that I have confidence in and know from past experience, should catch fish. But, with that said, I also have enough confidence in my familiarity of the waters I fish and the season, that if I was down to just one fly pattern, I would stay and fish. Also, partly becasue there are no fly shops close by.
I have Western fly fished many times without changing flies. But I am new to Tenkara and although I have tied a few Tenkara flies, I have only fished them for a short period of time on a recent trip to RMNP. But, that is not to say that at some point when I make a trip to the spring creeks that I fish, that I won’t decide that today is going to be a Tenkara day only and see what happens.
I fish mostly warm water streams and lakes , for years I tied western patterns for my fishing needs. For the past three years I have tied only sakasa kebari in a size 12. I do vary the hackle and body colors and also use different hook shapes in sise 12 . I catch just as many fish using only one pattern and sometimes I think I catch even more fish using Tenkara! I agree with Daniel it’s very liberating , I love it!!!
I like to purposely leave the house these days with limited gear to make me adapt to what happens during the day. Soon I will may try one size hook once I lose the few various sizes I use. To date I have been bringing size 8,12,16, and even had a few 18’s I tied long ago. Once I lose some of these, I plan to go one size hook from now on too, only trimming or less hackling flies to make them appear bigger or smaller. Just need to decide on my size hook. Probably gonna go 12 but maybe a 10….. or maybe a 14. LOL. I pretty much use 12 for almost all now but sure is nice to have a few bomber 8s in the box. 10 might be a nice compromise. TJ
I would fish with the flies I had. My very first fly was a “fuzzed out” cigarette butt (found streamside) tied on a snelled hook with loose thread taken from my cut-off Levis. I was a bait fisherman then and saw fish rising so I did my best to “match the hatch”, or at least create something that resembled a fly. I caught a limit of trout that day and have been hooked on fly fishing since. Today I fish mostly nymphs and have just a couple of “go to” flies that I fish regularly. When I have those flies I am confident I will catch fish and I focus on presentation. Without those flies I would fish what I had but would be much less confident in the fly and my presentation.