Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Tonight, I have to offer my congratulations to two close friends. Each made a milestone in terms of fly fishing, and both deserve some recognition.

Four or five nights ago, I began to teach Ben to tie flies. We started simply, with this blog's namesake, the rusty spinner. I think my friend will admit that he thought his first attempts at wrapping thread and dubbing on a hook were amateurish and unworthy of some of the fish we chase. His spinner didn't quite look like mine, but understand that I am hardly a world class tyer and Ben has an artist's touch. His flies were as good as any I've seen, and were far better than the first few I tied so many years ago. To try to give him a little confidence, I told him that which I've told every fly tying student to sit with me at the bench. I'm sure every fly tying tutor has suggested something similar to his or her students. "Ugly flies catch fish. In fact, they very often catch more fish."

Two days after completing his first whip-finish, Ben proved this little quip true and did so in grand style. He took a twenty-one inch brown; a twenty-one inch brown on the first fly he ever tied. Dear God, my flies didn't even take bluegills. I flogged the water for over twenty years before I finally took a twenty-inch trout on a fly I tied. Well done Ben! For making my night, I owe you yet another six-pack of that hate-strong, 12% beer you drink (actually, it's so hip and trendy a foo-foo brew that it's only sold in four-packs).

A second congratulations goes to Adam. Precisely one year to the day after having lost an enormous fish on a relatively remote section of the river, he returned and stung a similarly large fish. Adam has been fishing for over thirty years, and for twenty years or so he's been chasing a twenty-four inch trout. Today, for the first time in his life, he met the mark he set for himself so many years ago. At 7:00 p.m. I received a phone call from a giddy and seemingly intoxicated, 37 year-old man who today took a 24.5" hen brown. Only moments later he landed a 23" male, with a kype so out-sized that the animal could not fully close its jaw. Wow! You've got to love those honkin' big streamers.

I have to admit that some small part of me is jealous. Who wouldn't be though? I don't know that I have ever had a day to equal what Adam experienced today. I've taken precisely one fish that big, just one, and I caught it years ago. More than anything else though, I wish I had been there to see a friend do so well. Well done sir. I think you owe both Ben and I matching four-packs of that 12% sludge we drink.

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