- Jay Walden
June 3, 2018
Faith. The good book in Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." That's some pretty deep stuff, right there, but a great depiction of the concept that in one sentence describes what faith is; as well as, what it is not. In other words, if you've got to have concrete evidence in order to believe in something—well, that's not faith. And why is faith important? And what does it have to do with fly fishing? Because faith builds confidence and confidence can give you that added edge that makes an average fisherman a great fly fisherman. As an employee in a fly shop I see faith; and the lack thereof, in action on a daily basis, especially when it comes to fly selection. In answering the age old question of, "What's working?" I point out several patterns based on my own intel and that garnered from speaking with guides and experienced fishermen that visit the shop on daily basis, and right away I can tell which folks "have the faith" and which folks don't. Maybe it comes from just doing it for years, maybe it's my service industry background, maybe I was just born with some kind of sixth sense, but nine times out of ten I can spot the skeptics a minute or two into the conversation by the look in their eyes, or their body language. I can smell doubt, like a cheetah smells fear on an injured gazelle—and if you buy flies and fish them with the attitude of doubt, you're starting your journey from a very dark place my friend. Now, of course there's a lot more involved when it comes to success in the world of fly fishing— you've got to have at least a modicum of skill, some experience generally helps, but faith—and the confidence that comes with it, goes a long, long way. Nowhere is this stark contrast more evident between believers and non-believers, as when I point out the fact that you don't always have to fish size 26 dry flies on the San Juan during the summertime and the looks on some people's faces when I point to a foam ant or a hopper, or hold up a Madam X are; well, priceless. But you see, the thing is, you can't just buy faith by buying the fly, and you can't just walk out the door, tie it on, cast it four or five times, then give up and say it doesn't work. No, you have to go out and fish it with faith. You have to work some fish with the conviction of an old-time Baptist preacher at a tent revival, you have to believe—you have to believe the evidence of things not seen, and with that will come the confidence that will make you a better fisherman.
Now that you're properly motivated, let's get into what's happening on the Juan. Let me begin by saying the fishing is good right now and the San Juan is fishing once again like the San Juan I have been waiting for since back in the fall. The water has cleared dramatically and the midge hatches are like the halcyon days of old. I went out this past Tuesday and there were literally hundreds of noses of feeding fish in the afternoon. It really doesn't get much better than that for a dry fly fisherman. If nymphing is more your game, well, there's plenty of that too. Small larva and pupa patterns fished deeper in the water column and midge emergers on a short rig with little or no weight later in the afternoon are the ticket right now. In the lower river, add in some baetis patterns like rootbeers, CDC RS2s, and foamwings. For the midge dries, I like fore and afts and Morgan's Midges in size 24 in both gray and black when the fish are singling out individual bugs, then switching to a Sprout Midge once the clusters start to form, later in the afternoon. 6x for the nymphs, 7x for the small dries. Don't overlook the opportunity to fish some bigger terrestrial patterns, like ants and beetles, once the fish move up higher in the water column and can get a look at your bugs—5x will work fine for this and it helps the tippet from spinning into a knotted mess. O, ye of little faith, fish those big bugs with the confidence of a Baller. Outside of Wednesday, when the water will be increased to 2,000 cfs for two hours on that day only, this should be a great week to visit the San Juan, so I hope you can make it out. If you would like more information or need to book a guide trip, give us a call at 505-632-2194.