Steve fired one more pinpoint cast with his Sparrow to the edge of the seam, tucking it beyond the shade line and deftly driving enough slack upstream of the large dry fly to grant it the necessary freedom. Bobbing and weaving downstream, the Sparrow drifted for twelve feet. It was a damn fine cast, and I stood back to admire my friend’s proficiency. This was his third delivery, all with seemingly identical presentations, because Steve had a plan from the beginning. I noticed that he added a little curve at the end of the last cast to place the leader’s butt section parallel with the seam and gain another six inches of drift before drag set in. Artful stuff.
When the Sparrow skittered across the surface and into the sun, Steve drew a quick figure-eight in the air and finished with a lift of the rod tip that delivered his favorite dry fly directly to the palm of his hand. Another magic trick.
Steve turned to face me. I’d been watching from his off side — out of range for average casting angles. And now my friend grinned, shrugged and waded my way.
“Nobody home,” Steve said.
It was one of his favorite expressions about a river when a trout didn’t eat.
“Nobody hungry,” I countered.
We hit the riverbank, crossed the bridge and started a walk that would lead us over crunchy gravel before turning to dirt and ending in overgrown brush.
“Either one,” my friend replied.
So, is there a difference between nobody home and nobody hungry?
Sure there is.
And does it matter?
Sure it does.
Nobody home means there are no trout in the slot you were fishing. And sometimes that’s true.
I meet a lot of people who have trouble believing that trout are holding in the area they’ve chosen for the cast. I sympathize with that, because I’ve fished a lot of water over the years that held very few trout. But long ago, I learned one key trick to good fishing — believe in every cast. There’s no point throwing the fly until you’ve convinced yourself that a trout exists. (The fisherman is eternally hopeful.)
Nobody hungry suggests that a trout might be in the slot but he either isn’t eating, isn’t buying what you’re selling, or he doesn’t like the way you are selling it.
I tend to believe that nobody hungry is more often true. Usually, I think that one or more trout see my fly on every drift, or I wouldn’t have put it there in the first place. (And, the fisherman is eternally hopeful.)
If you believe nobody is home, it makes good sense to move on and cover more water. Look for trout in other areas and test new waters. And if you believe nobody is hungry then you really have a few options. You can change flies, change presentations or move on to find trout that ARE hungry.
So which one is it? Nobody home or nobody hungry? I don’t know. It’s your river. But I wouldn’t assume one or the other without a real good reason.
Fish hard, friends.
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Enjoy the day.
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