Fishermen are bad with numbers. We’re notorious for embellishing the size of our catch and the numbers of trout in the net. We overstate, exaggerate and overestimate everything. Okay, admit it — fishermen are a bunch of liars.
Now, a lot of this is in good fun, and it can be pretty harmless. But some of the stats and numbers about our fishing are important to get right. How far are you casting, and what’s the size of the dry fly? How do the line and leader diameters match with the weight of your nymph? These stats are critical for taking the next step in advanced angling, and we’ll get to all of that below. But first, let’s talk about your uncle . . .
What’s the downside of letting Uncle Joe believe that his biggest trout was two feet long? None, really. Lying about the length of a trout and the numbers in the net won’t hurt his fishing production. So Uncle Joe names a trout “Large Marge” and tells a story about the biggest trout he’s ever caught. (Troutbitten tradition is to give a name to all wild trout over two feet long.) Good for Uncle Joe.
I’ll mention that among my own fishing friends, we are strictly fact based — there’s no lying about numbers or size. Because real data shared in our fishing group is more important than bragging rights.
Regardless, the way you or Uncle Joe chooses to quantify what lands in your net doesn’t affect your future success. Being a poor judge of what twenty inches looks like on a trout doesn’t matter much. And rounding up the number of trout you caught then adding five doesn’t matter either.
But knowing the weights and measures of your rig does.
Why Knowledge Matters
Good anglers aim to understand the rig in their hands.
Know the weights of your nymphs and streamers, the diameters of your tippet, the stiffness of your leader and the air resistance of your dry fly. Each of these qualities affects the others. Every part in your system directly influences the performance of the rest.
All anglers do this to some degree. Most know their fly size and terminal tippet diameter. And that’s a great start. But knowing your weights and measures in detail is a wonderful way to improve your understanding of the game.
Simply knowing that you are nymphing with fifty centigrams goes a long way toward understanding the performance of your tight line rig. Being aware of these stats and analyzing their performance helps us solve problems on the river. More importantly, it helps us develop a style, dialing in a system that is tailored toward our own strengths, goals and opportunities.
Stats Over Time
The longer I fish, the more I understand my own weights and measures. And I continue to learn how they interface with each other.
In truth, it takes seasons of experience to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, and each of us is always learning. Point is, obsessing about exactly the weights of your nymphs vs the diameters of your Mono Rig, for example, may be a little much if you only have a few years under your belt.
So start by simply knowing your stats, and then pay attention to the performance of the rig. Most learning happens intuitively, with time on the water and attention to detail.
There are a few things to focus on. Some are leader based and some are weight based. Future articles in this Troutbitten Short Series will flush out all three of these categories in detail. But to start, here’s a rundown of the stats to focus on.
What Weights and Measures?
Accurately knowing your distances lies at the heart of everything.
Some anglers are enamored with long casts, and they might brag about fishing far away. Who cares? I value accuracy, efficiency, and effectiveness (trout in the net), so most of my fishing happens at fifteen to thirty feet. Like a good hunter, I know the effective range of my tools and my skills.
That said, I want to know exactly how far away I’m tight line nymphing, for example, so I can balance the natural sag in my leader (they all sag) with the weight at the end of the line. Likewise, I consider the distance at which I can effectively push a #12 Klinkhammer dry fly under a canopy, and I know how I need to build my leader to accomplish this at thirty feet.
The line and leader delivers the fly to the target. And in my estimation, the leader is the most important element in our system — it’s far more important than the fly itself. So, understanding the composition of the leader for dries, nymphs, wets or streamers is the key to effectively adjusting for the conditions and the situation at hand.
The frequent angler encounters daily challenges that require modification. And knowing the parts of the leader — the lengths, diameters and even the stiffness of each section, is critical to meeting challenges on the water.
Flies and Weights
Beginning anglers think about the fly first. But experience teaches us that it usually matters least. And by understanding distance, knowing our effective range, and building a leader for the job, only then are we in a place to consider the fly.
What’s the most important element to consider about the fly? Often, it’s the size and weight. And knowing that your nymph weighs fifty centigrams goes a long way toward having repeated success on the water. Likewise, it’s good to know that a #14 Parachute Adams from your box pairs nicely with thirty inches of 5X as a terminal tippet with your Harvey dry leader.
Up Next . . .
Consider your fly size and weight. Know your tippet diameter. Understand the length, thickness and weight of your leader’s butt section. And learn to accurately judge the distance you are casting. All of these elements are intertwined. And advanced angling starts by being aware of the stats. Know your weights and measures.
In the companion articles of this Troutbitten Short Series, we’ll address the weights and measures of each of these in depth: distance, leaders, flies and weights.
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Fish hard, friends.
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Enjoy the day.
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