Line of Sight – Part 3 of 3

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

In Part I of this article I took cheap shots at the established, accomplished, noble-blooded practitioners of strike indicator fishing; then I described how I personally use an alternative “watch the line” method in Part II. Now I’ll wrap it up with some summary comparisons.

The best anglers are adept at both, of course, although we’ll each have our individual preferences.

And I admit that, as with anything, this “line of sight” strike detection method does have limitations. Distance to the fly can render it less effective (although if the fly is still upstream of you, odd line behavior is much more odd, and the distance is also decreasing every second). Chop on the surface can make the line impossible to see. Use of stealth line colors can aggravate those problems (although I’ve lately been using a “moss green” floating line and have still done quite well in calmer tail-outs and pools).

There’s at least one definite and noteworthy advantage to using indicators as compared to this “line of sight” approach: The line from fly to indicator is straight. A strike cannot help but be noticed, and if the indicator is drifting freely, the fly is likely to be drifting freely as well. In numerous scenarios including lake fishing and complex interceding currents, it’s difficult to present the fly any other way.  This is a key upside and a powerful case for the float, I agree.

Continue reading → Line of Sight – Part 3 of 3

Line of Sight – Part 2 of 3

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

In the first part of this article I whined like a baby, maligning an honorable and effective method of fly fishing — that being the use of visual strike indicators attached to the leader. I did my level best to deliver a big bag of excuses about why I couldn’t cut the mustard with that approach. And then I tried to take credit for an alternative method that’s as old as fly fishing itself — maybe from back about when hedgehog gut was used for leaders. I arrogantly called it “my way,” and worse yet, I had the nerve to name it.

Well, what is “my way”?  I just watch the line. Again, for want of a better word for it, I’m calling it the “Line of Sight” technique, to have something to refer to here.

We want to detect a strike no matter how subtle, and no matter what kind of drift we’ve got going. A drift may come at us from upstream, extend away from us downstream, or both…and a strike can be very different depending on what kind of drift it interrupts. When fishing wet flies or nymphs across and down or mostly down, I generally keep the line direct enough to the fly that I’ll feel a take through my rod and fingers. It needn’t be a completely straight path, but it must be able to transmit shock or vibration back to my hands. This means either a straight line or at least a smooth arc. Admittedly it may work better for wet flies than for dead-drifted nymphs because with the line’s path fairly direct to the fly I’m likely to affect the fly’s drift to some degree — that is, if my fingers can detect something happening at the fly, whatever is at the fly might possibly be able to detect my presence too…if its brain can fathom the concept of invisible leaders tracing a path back to a human in the water. But I’m careful, and willing to take that chance.

Figure 2-1.  Smooth Upstream Glide

It’s when fishing upstream or up-and-across that a visual detection scheme is of more importance…because the current is every second increasing the slack in the line. When the visual detection device is the floating line itself, the goal is to see line movement that can’t be explained easily unless something is messing with the fly. I look for the line to:

—  Dart cross-current or upstream

—  Softly ease upstream — maybe only an inch, or even less

—  Sink at its tip faster than a weighted fly might pull it

—  Go suddenly more slack (as if the sinking fly stopped its gentle pull downward on the line)

—  Twitch oddly but not go anywhere at all

—  Do anything else an inanimate piece of string won’t do by itself, given known laws of physics

—  Do nothing more than give me a creepy feeling that something fishy is going on

Continue reading → Line of Sight – Part 2 of 3

Line of Sight – Part 1 of 3

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

The breeze is very light, with hardly a ripple on the surface; the high cloud cover comes and goes. Right now, somewhere between my rod tip and the fly that’s down there bumping along near the bottom of the hole or pin-balling from rock to smooth round rock, a rainbow trout has taken an interest. It’s not an admirer of fine art (I know that because I’m the one who tied this fly). It sees the soft hackle wave gently and does a quick mental comparison against its inborn list of colors, sizes, shapes and memories. It makes a decision, since in another moment the subject of its attention will sweep silently by.

What does it decide? If it passes on the offering, the path by which the fly is connected back to me makes little difference (unless something about my leader is what convinces it to ignore).

But if it chooses to grab, then either it can do so aggressively to ensure another nearby fish doesn’t beat it to the prize, or it can just delicately inhale the lump of feathers and fur. The choice is up to the individual fish.

Fish will strike depending on their species personality, availability of food, degree of competition for it, apprehension about lurking dangers, and attitude of the day…the last of which we can only guess at until it reveals itself to us. I’ve always loved the aggressive take; it sends the electric charge through my heart and soul that I came hoping to feel. But there’s a subtle joy in capitalizing on the soft or stealthy take, too, and it’s only experienced by those who have meticulously tuned themselves to it.

I don’t use strike indicators. I can’t say for sure why, although I can babble out lots of reasons. I know that the indicator technique has resulted in probably 10x the number of trout taken annually by average-joe anglers like myself…yes I do know that. I know that avoiding indicators may have ensured that more strikes go unseen by me than the strikes I’ve noticed, across the years. I know that indicators are cheap and come in a wide array of types and are easy to attach…and I know that large dry flies serve as indicators (and on some waters can also realistically serve as a fly offering too). I know all that.

I just can’t use them. I would first of all have to heave an unwieldy string of objects out there, all hinging and plopping…and my casting isn’t that good to begin with. I HATE ugly casts…and I make enough of them as it is. And then I’d have to watch a little round floating thingie, which by its very digital nature does one of two things: Disappear, or not disappear. Oh, I guess maybe it can sometimes also slide slightly in a direction while it disappears.

Continue reading → Line of Sight – Part 1 of 3