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  • Jay Walden

Be the fly...

There's a scene from one of my favorite movies—Caddyshack, where Chevy Chase's character Ty makes a golf shot blindfolded, while explaining to his young caddy Danny, ""There's a force in the universe that makes things happen, all you have to do is get in touch with it—let things happen, and be the ball." I think of that line often when I'm working the shop and customers ask me to recommend dry fly patterns. I think of it more often, if they're not used to fishing tailwaters, when I point to the size 24 and 26 patterns, when their eyes get big as saucers and kinda glaze over. One of the more common responses when I point to a fly pattern that looks more like a speck of lint than something that would catch a fish is, "How do you see that? I could never see that on the water. I couldn't even see to tie that on, much less fish it." When I add that it's best to fish them on 7x tippet, they usually stare at me like I just came from another planet, or just stand there like they're waiting for me to deliver the punchline from some bad joke I'm trying to pull. Truth is, there is a force that makes things happen and you don't have to see the fly. Oh sure, it helps if you can, and if you concentrate and really work at it, you can train your eyes and become amazingly better at it, but you don't have to see the fly to catch fish. You just have to find your center, get in touch with it, and be the ball. The key to the whole thing is accurate casting. I know that sounds hard, especially when you think of it terms of some "River Runs Through It," scene, where your're casting 60 feet of flyline across three different currents to make some impossible presentation across the Big Blackfoot to some rising fish. But this is the San Juan, you don't have to do that. You just need to be able to make a good presentation at 20, or many times, 15 feet, but it's gotta be accurate—consistently accurate, if you want to catch fish on a regular basis. Even at that distance, it takes practice, because that fly needs to be spot on their nose, they aren't going to swim over 2 feet or even 6 inches to eat a midge, when there's hundreds of them floating by every hour. The good news is these fish aren't spooky and you can get close to them; that, and the fact that you can cheat. Position yourself upstream and across from a rising fish, let your brain do the mental calculation on the distance between you and the fish—with a little practice this becomes a lot easier than it sounds and your brain will automatically do it for you over time. Try to put your fly 2 to 3 feet in front of the fish and watch where your fly lands. Can't see it? No problem, just pull back slightly on the rod tip, the movement of the fly will unconsciously draw your eye to it. Lock on to the fly like a laser, keeping your peripheral vision keyed on the location of the fish. Cast too far? No problem, just keep dragging the fly until you have it in the lane of the rise, it'll drift right to them. Not far enough? No worries, pick up and cast again, nobody's counting. Can't see the fly? Well, you only have to drift about three feet—no big deal, if you see that fish rise about the time you think your fly should be there, lift (don't jerk) the rod tip. There's not a lot of slack line to take up and a simple lift will bring you tight to the fish. Wasn't your fly? Cast and try again, nine times out of ten these fish won't spook on a false set unless you do it too hard. Zen, baby, Zen. You don't have to see the fly. Okay, what's up for this week on the San Juan? Cold, very cold, with the high never reaching the freezing mark, minus 6 on Wed. and Thur. night. Still the fishing is good if you can stand the weather. The water is still clear, for now, but this cold weather could be the catalyst that gets the lake into turnover mode, later in the week, we'll see. The midge hatches are still going strong with the best fishing between 11:00 and 3:00. The flow has dropped slightly to 286 cfs, but it hasn't hurt the fishing any. If you're one of those tough guys or gals that love your winter fishing, the San Juan's still your place and you should have lots of water to yourself. If you would like more info or would like to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194. In the meantime, remember—find your center, let things happen, and be the ball.

Jay's Fishing Reports

Books by
Jay Walden
Can be purchased on Amazon or in our fly shop.

Jay's Fishing Report  

To our faithful fishing report readers, 

Here's a way to get your rainbow trout fix 'til you are able to hit the San Juan again-- available online only

Check each style out--there are a variety of colors, fabrics & sizes to enjoy.

Special thanks to designer & artist, Matt Zudweg 

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As a small aside and attempt at shameless self-promotion, there was an article featured  on Flyfisherman Magazine's website written by yours truly about the 60th anniversary of Abe's Fly Shop that can be accessed through the following link: Abe's Anniversary. Hope you can make it out this week. If you would like more information or would like to book a guided trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194. 

Abe's Fly Shop Turns 60 -

Watercolor by Tim Oliver                                          Photos Courtesy of Abe Chavez


Jay's Past Reports:  

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