Find Your Rabbit Hole

by | Feb 21, 2021 | 16 comments

Someone recently told me that fly fishing seems like a lot of work. They said it looks more like tying knots while walking upstream than it does fishing — that the whole thing seems like a lot of trouble just to catch a fish.

I thought about it a moment and replied with honesty. It is work, and that’s just one thing we love about it. Most of us would make the effort even without a fish dancing at the end of the line. And we’d come back to do it over and again. But when a good trout does take the fly, it’s enough to keep us going for a long, long time.

It need not be complicated, of course. Fly fishing for trout can be done easily, and done well with a couple of flies in an old box and a pair of hiking boots on your feet. That’s how I fished for years. Chasing small wild trout through steep mountain valleys was a simple affair. If they wouldn’t hit a Royal Wulff, then I was in the wrong place, or I was spooking trout before they ever saw my fly. Back then it was about exploring water. These days it’s about exploring tactics.

As the years pass, so do my obsessions. Fly fishing and pursuing trout remains the constant, but how I approach them with a fly is as varied now as it’s ever been. Boredom is impossible, because river time is too short to answer one question before the next one arises. Because trout are too guarded and mysterious to grant firm answers about much of anything.

While experience is the one true teacher, the ideas of fellow anglers help shine a light on the next path for us to follow. A good book leads you to the trail head, fills you with a bunch of thoughts that don’t quite make sense and then tosses you down the rabbit hole— saying, have fun, you’ll figure it out.

Wild Brown

Likewise, I remember far off fishing conversations with old fly fishermen who are now gone. They talked about rivers and methods that lost me along the way. But those ideas took seed in memory. And all these years later, some of what they taught me has grown limbs.

In large part, we choose our influences for fly fishing. We select a path of interest and find the tutors. Then we fish.

Sometimes, while in the throes of testing and experimenting, I go through long spells where I deliberately avoid fishing with others or soliciting advice. I don’t want my opinions and conclusions, or my own direction, swayed by the bent rod of a friend upstream. But more often, I’m a researcher, a questioner, a seeker of any and all things that are possible while standing midstream with a fly rod.

From Sawyer to Croston, Humphreys and Harvey, Rosenbauer, Brooks, Daniel and Olsen, understanding their ideas through the decades is how I learn. It’s how we all learn. The names change, but the process remains. We build a framework from others. Then we fit together the pieces of who we are as an angler.

Fish hard, friends.

 

** Donate ** If you enjoy Troutbitten, please consider a donation. Your support is what keeps this Troutbitten project funded. Scroll below to find the Donate Button. And thank you.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 1000+ articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers.
Your support is greatly appreciated.

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Seven Seasons and Then Peace — Lessons From the Salt, Summer 2024

Seven Seasons and Then Peace — Lessons From the Salt, Summer 2024

There’s a process of evolution in our fishing that cannot be rushed. It’s better off being accepted. And yet, it might take the wisdom of age to ever understand that.

I’d argue that most anglers pursue fishing for the time-out-of-mind experience. Many styles of fishing allow for it, but surfcasting draws me in unlike anything I’ve ever done.

I think it’s the waves . . .

Do We Really Want Fly Fishing to Grow?

Do We Really Want Fly Fishing to Grow?

We want more anglers who appreciate the best things about fishing. We want anglers who fish hard for the experience, who reject fake fishing, who boast not about the numbers of trout caught but are proud of the miles of water they’ve explored and appreciate what they’ve been through to get there. We want wild trout advocates and woodsmen. We need knowledgeable teachers to inspire young people by revealing the complex mysteries of chasing river trout.

This Is Real Silence

This Is Real Silence

. . . It can be dead silent on that mountain, quiet enough to remember a place in time with no interruptions, a day that started in a bustling, wide valley and finished in stillness on top of a mountain.

. . . . . . The guitar amp, the voices, the conversations, the laughing and arguing, the engine noise and the truck’s rattles, the NPR opinion and the crackly speakers — it’s all gone. And it’ll stay gone for as long as I’m here on the mountaintop. This is real silence.

Dry or Die?

Dry or Die?

. . . There’s a segment of fly anglers who will never see streamers, nymphs or wet flies as a legitimate offering. That’s fine. Keep it to yourself.

There’s another segment of fly fishers who believe trophy hunting for big browns with big streamers is the only way to live out there. And everything else might as well be tweed hats and waxed catgut. That’s fine too. Keep it to yourself.

The majority of us are fishermen, just having fun, trying to catch a fish and then catch another one . . .

Q&A: Long Drifts or Short — What’s Better and Why?

Q&A: Long Drifts or Short — What’s Better and Why?

I play the odds. I’ve seen what works best, so I repeat it the most. And I’d rather get two or three good casts against the next log for the next thirty seconds rather than just one cast to the log and twenty five seconds of stripping away from it. This is the mindset of having tight targets, of getting short and effective drifts . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

16 Comments

  1. Right on Dom! For me it’s the whole learning experience even when I’m not on the water.
    Due to family and work I’m not able to get as much time on the water as I would like.
    When I’m not on the water I’m fly tying, watching fly tying videos, reading about fly fishing. I love it all. It’s feeds my need to relaxation as well as enjoying the challenge of the thinking part of the sport both on and off the water.

    Reply
  2. I started as a spinner fisherman many years ago. It wasn’t until my brother younger brother did a senior project on fly fishing that I started fly fishing as I too saw it as too difficult. I read fly fishing for dummies and that’s what started me down this wonderful journey. It’s what introduced me eventually to troutbitten. That led me to standing in a stream on a beautiful February afternoon catching rainbows. While I have only recently renewed my passion for catching trout on a fly, I’m now bringing my whole family along for the ride. Thanks for the inspiration Dom.

    Reply
    • From Sawyer to Croston, Humphreys and Harvey, Rosenbauer, Brooks, Daniel and Olsen…..

      Forgot to name Swentosky. I know I learned alot from that guy too, both on the water and his writings.

      Reply
  3. Please add your name to the list of people from which we learn. I have learned a ton from reading your stuff.

    Reply
    • I will second that comment!

      Reply
      • Me too!

        Reply
  4. Dom
    To what degree do you make use of a fishing log in order to draw conclusions regarding your testing of different rigs, techniques, and flies? I searched your site and found no specific article on the use of formal fishing logs. Many of us do and would find it an interesting topic for discussion. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Rick.

      Almost none, anymore. I kept a log in the nineties and early 2000’s. But once I started fishing almost every day, it became too much to maintain. I feel like the information I need is at my hands all the time. When I’m actively comparing leader formulas and tactics, I often keep notes, and I keep those even when I’m done using them.

      I used to keep records of water temps, weather conditions, barometer, etc. But I never found much correlation with any of that and fishing success. Truth is, arriving at the stream with too many preconceived notions about what they day will be like or what flies or tactics may work can be detrimental to success. That’s why one of my pet peeves is seeing anglers rig up everything at the car. How can you know what leader, fly and tactic you will choose until you study the water a bit? (Unless you’re setting out to test something specific.)

      Cheers.
      Dom

      Reply
      • Now, that’s interesting. I’ve kept a log for years. Sometimes it helps me to get a sense of what to expect, but you’re right–every day is different, and it’s necessary to be ready to adapt, no matter what you think may be ahead. I’ll probably keep it going, but your response gives me pause.

        Reply
  5. “Truth is, arriving at the stream with too many preconceived notions about what they day will be like or what flies or tactics may work can be detrimental to success.”

    100%
    Never tell a trout what it should be doing and where it should be doing it!
    Always listen to what the trout say.

    I still use a log because it makes me reflect on the day and improves my memory.
    If I fished 200 days a year I’m sure I would retire it too.

    On a side note, NYS is implementing a modern trout management plan this season that finally eliminates stocking in premiere wild trout fisheries and includes year round fishing a-la PA. Cheers!

    Reply
  6. Dom,
    I was at the trailhead of Euro-nymphing and I found two trail maps. One was George Daniels’ book – Dynamic nymphing. True other a blog called Troutbitten.

    Thanks! It’s been a wild ride down this rabbit hole.

    Reply
    • THE other.

      Reply
  7. Amen

    Reply
  8. Amen. Hope you’re doing well, Dom. Tight lines.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

Pin It on Pinterest