At the "sippin' and spinnin'" caucus the other night we re-evaluated prevailing theories on fly design for winter steelhead. For the last couple years convention has held that big, bright and flashy was the ticket, but recent outings and grapevine reports suggested that the theory might have holes in it. Perhaps our fish are evolving faster than we think, and if so the only thing we can do is evolve with them, right? So I've been kicking out a steady stream of small, sparse, and natural at the vise and testing convention.
Still, I haven't exactly been setting the world on fire. In the waning daylight of yet another windy, frigid and mostly fishless day, I met up with Alex for one last pass. I lead through with small, sparse and natural. He followed with big, bright and flashy....
Theory blown. After we landed his fish, I finished my pass through the tailout, reeled up and waved the white flag. Back to the drawing board. With maybe 20 minutes of daylight left I figured I'd better cut my losses and chalk it up to fish karma. Plus, I was on dinner duty.
As I started to walk out, Alex took a shot my integrity.
"Yea man, I think you found the only fish to be found today."
"Come on dude, one more pass. Put a Randy Moss through there."
I thought longer and harder about it than I probably needed to.
"Alright, I'll put one through there, just for you."
I dug through one of my umpteen boxes looking for a remnant tie from last year's binge. The fly had been a standby through last spring. But every change of seasons leaves behind a few forgotten soldiers. I found one buried beneath a pile of unproven newcomers and tied it on. Alex pointed out the ledge that his fish had come off of, and I began working my way down.
In mid conversation, the grab caught me by surprise and the line was slack again before I could even react. Then, another tug.
Slack... a sinking feeling, followed by 1,000 years of excruciating suspense;
Sometimes you have to remind yourself that the wheel was invented a long, long time ago, and it's still rolling along just fine.