Setting fly fishing goals

Don Oliver

I have heard it said, and I agree, when someone starts to fly fish they go through a series of self-imposed goals. First, they want to be able to master a cast. Little do they know, this is a never-ending challenge. But why burst their bubble from the get-go? Next, they want to be able to cast a fly well enough to catch a fish. It doesn’t matter the species or size, just catch a fish using their fly rod. Next is catch a bigger fish, then a really big fish. Somewhere in this goal setting they want to become proficient in tying knots that hold, and picking flies that fish really want to eat.

Once someone gets out of the beginner stage of goal setting, new goals become apparent. I know fly fishermen who are older and their number one goal is not to fall in the water as often as they did last year. I also know a cigar-smoking fly fisherman whose goal is to light a cigar while setting a hook. Obviously, goals while fly fishing, are a personal thing. And, regardless of skill levels, goals should be set at the start of every season.

My goal for this year is to catch a carp using my fly rod. Not just any carp. I have caught carp on big lakes and in little ponds in apartment complexes. I have caught them on both wet and dry flies. So why a goal that looks like a repeat? I have discovered there are carp in the pond located in the subdivision where I live. For some reason, these are not like the carp I managed to fool in the past.

These carp are much more active. It’s as if they are training for some type of athletic competition. They are swimming nose to tail, about a foot and a half deep, in a clock-wise, circular pattern around the pond. They also aren’t slowing down to eat. This is not the behavior of carp I’m used to.

When I discovered them, I cast my standard carp flies. Those are: a green Wooly Bugger, a foam ant, a San Juan Worm, even a May Fly. Those flies have worked on other carp, not these. So, I went to my tying bench to come up with the perfect fly for these carp. I am a fly fisherman on a mission. For some reason I think a fly that has the appearance of old wilted lettuce will do the trick. I can’t tell you why, it just came to me while trying to light my cigar as I attempted to set a hook.

I found, while looking in SWMBO’s refrigerator, old lettuce can take on several colors and textures. I also discovered there must be at least a dozen types of lettuce. So, I decided on trying to replicate old iceberg lettuce. I took a couple of leaves of lettuce and set them out on the counter. After several days the leaves took on a yellow, black, and brown look. (Similar to some of the salads I’ve had.) I took them to my man room, lit a cigar, and began the process of trying to match my tying materials to this sickly-looking leaf. After a couple of hours, and several attempts at creating a sickly-looking fly, I think I’ve tied a couple that will work.

I plan to fish it using a split shot attached to my leader, that way I can adjust the depth of my wilted-lettuce-leaf-looking-imitation. Even though I don’t think carp are leader shy, I will use one that is little longer than usual. This should keep me entertained for more than one outing.

If not, as I am easily entertained, I’ll set a new goal. Walking on water so I don’t fall in would be a good one.

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