Fly Fishing for Trout Home
User Password
or register.
Scientific name search:

> > Thought this was interesting...

MT319May 14th, 2010, 10:32 pm

Posts: 24

Myths, legends, lies and other fishing facts Flyfishing: 200 years of tradition unencumbered by progress. Repeat a lie enough times and what do you have? Another lie. There are numerous myths, legends and lies regarding trout and fishing for them. Here are a few to chew on:

1. "Eyes on streamers provoke strikes." It is widely held that predatory fish key in on and attack the eyes of bait fish. As "proof" many anglers cite the presence of ocelli or false eyes near the tail of some fish. They contend the predator will target these eyes and the attack will be directed toward the tail.

Studies around the world with numerous species of fish show that that predatory fish do not aim for the eyes. In every instance the mid section of the prey was targeted. The size, shape, location, presence or lack of the eyes (or ocelli) in no way altered the point of the attack.

Researchers have found that very often a predatory fish will not attack if the eyes are visible. Time after time bass, pike and barracuda have been observed rushing past available bait to take a fish with it's back turned. It seems predators have learned they can get the jump on their prey when it's not looking.

Ocelli located near the tail of bait fish may give the impression it is "looking" when its back is turned and avoid being attacked. For the same reason eyes on a streamer may actually be counter productive.

There is no doubt some flies are more effective with eyes than without. Eyes can add both physical and visual balance to a fly. The eyes may add just that certain bit of spark, brightness or contrast that makes the pattern irresistible. In certain patterns, eyes impart action and even noise to a streamer. Blanton's Whistlers and Clousser's Deep Minnows are good examples; exchange the lead eyes on a Deep Minnow with plastic eyes and the fly loses both it's jigging action and fish catching qualities.

2. "Approach from behind (usually from downstream) to sneak up on trout." From a human's perspective this makes sense; however, if we lived in a world of mirrors and our eyes were placed where our ears are, we might be less inclined to think this way. A trout's eyes are placed high on the sides of its head. Its blind spots are immediately in front of its nose and for a few inches directly behind its tail. A trout's ceiling is a huge mirror that allows it to see reflected images that are hidden from direct line of sight. In short, it's pretty darned hard to sneak up on a trout unannounced from any direction. Luckily, if approached with respect, trout don't care.

If we act non threatening, the fish will almost always accommodate our presence. An analogy most people can relate to is a deer in a meadow. You can walk quietly along the perimeter of the meadow and usually the deer will give a good stare then continue to browse with an occasional glance. If you stop and do jumping jacks, the deer will become a blur.

Move slowly, don't needlessly false cast or wear clothes that flap in the breeze. Watch the fish. When it starts to sink to the river bed, fold its fins or increase its rate of tail beats, stop whatever you're doing and allow the fish to relax. If it bolts, move into position and wait. The fish will usually return and begin feeding in short order.

3. "Small tippets are better because they are harder to see." This one defies common sense. Switching from a 5X to a 7X tippet is making a change of two thousands of an inch in line diameter. Do you really think trout can tell the difference?

A trout can see 7X tippet as well as it can see climbing rope. I spend hundreds of hours underwater watching trout feed. Very often the fish will be taking minute items such as daphnia or copepods that are impossible for me to see much more than a foot away. These fish routinely initiate their rise to the food when it is still five or six feet away. At that distance even I can clearly see 7X tippet, and have no doubt trout see it too. Luckily, trout don't care.

On Fall River and Fort Creek I've glued foot long pieces of 15 pound Maxima to Hexagenia mayflies and grasshoppers. These notoriously selective fish rose to the bugs without hesitation, yet they turned away from the same fly attached to 5X tippet connected somewhere upstream to a fly rod.

The difference, and the only difference, is drag. It is amazing how much junk is floating in the water in and amongst trout food. If the trout rejected every item near a pine needle or piece of straw, the fish would starve to death. Trout are not accustomed to seeing a mayfly spinner swimming upstream or an ant skating sideways.

The thinner the tippet, the less drag it is inclined to impart on the fly. You can also reduce drag by lengthening the tippet or by affixing the fly with an open loop knot.

4. "You must match the color of the prey." What a crock. Trout see every color we do, plus they can see infra red and ultra violet. When we see a green caddis larvae, we are seeing an object that is absorbing all the visible wavelengths of light except blue through yellow. These colors are reflected in a blend of light that appears as green to the human eye.

What if this caddis is also reflecting ultra violet? It'll still look green to us because we can't see UV. To the trout who can see into the ultra violet spectrum, the caddis will look something far different from green.

It is well known that many patterns, such as Bob Quigley's para nymph, work better when tied in purple rather than the PMD hatch matching yellowish green. To our eyes the imitation looks nothing like the real thing, however, the infra red reflecting qualities of the purple fly are better at imitating the natural as the trout perceives it. And that's what counts.

Out of a laboratory we have no way of knowing how trout perceive a bug. Luckily, it doesn't matter. Trout don't care if the fly contains the wrong color. Blend lots of colors into your dubbing . . . as long as the right color is present, most fish selectively discriminate against the wrong colors and take the bug. Whitlock's "bright dot" flies are a perfect example of this.

(article continues on at above link if you wish to read the rest..there's 10 total..most of remaining having to do with nymphing which is why they were omitted)

TNEALMay 15th, 2010, 5:33 am

Posts: 278

Gotta love the tippet discussion. My observations over the past 55 years bring me to the same conclusions. Can't the fish see the exposed parts of the hook as well? If they cared, that alone would be enough to send them into hysterics. Your discussion supports the thought: The fish see what they want to see,
MT319May 15th, 2010, 10:19 am

Posts: 24
Exactly..tippet length has value..tippet diameter on the other hand appears to be just a cop out (and crutch) for poor presentation
MartinlfMay 15th, 2010, 10:29 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3229
Fascinating. So Caucci/Nastasi had it right on the spectrumized dubbing thing.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Jmd123May 15th, 2010, 12:23 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2609
So I'm glad now that I don't really have to go down to rediculously small tippet sizes to catch (or more likely LOSE) fish! (I once had 10" bluegills breaking me off on 6x tippet - these days I won't go below 3x for warmwaters or 4x for trout.) I think it's better to match the size of the tippet to the size of the fly for proper turnover on the cast (i.e., thicker tippet for big heavy or bushy flies, lighter for smaller weightless flies). Besides, you can't get a thick piece of mono through tiny eyes on tiny fly hooks (which I can't hardly see anymore anyways).

With regards to eyes on streamers, my Killer Bass Flies (one of which hooked me into a 20"+ brown on the Pigeon two summers ago) have bead-chain eyes, silver for the original silver/gray, and gold for the gold/brown and copper/brown variants. (I've used black for dark olive versions too.) When I want them to go deeper, I substitute (painted) lead or (nickle-plated) brass dumbells. This fly is absolutely deadly on warmwaters for bass and panfish and as I said above at least one big fat trout (could have thought it was a sculpin). I've done well with Clouser Minnows and bead-chain or dumbell eyes on Woolly Buggers as well. So I find it surprising that such a practice would actually discourage fish from hitting these flies, but I think I might know why it DOES work. When I fish these flies, I use 6-inch to 2-foot strips with the inevitable pause between them while I reach forward to grab the line for the next strip. What this does is make the fly look like a crippled fish. Well, if a fish is CRIPPLED, it doesn't matter if it can see predators, it's not going to be able to get away, and we all know predators will take the easiest prey first, i.e., the crippled ones who can't swim as fast as the rest of them. Food for thought (no pun intended)...BTW, this fly doesn't just work well in stillwaters but also on smallies in the Huron River which has some pretty fast currents. And they always hit it REALLY HARD like they're afraid it might get away.

Now, here's a little known-secret about bead-chain, and why I like to use so much of it. When you cut the segments of two apart from the chain, the little connector nubbins fall into the little hollow spheres and create a RATTLE. It's tiny but it makes a distinct CHICK sound when you shake them. More inticement to bite?? I think so because this is my best streamer fly EVER.

Also, without a doubt, the glitter and color contrast of added eyes probably have something to do with it too.

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Shawnny3May 15th, 2010, 1:30 pm
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
The tippet comments are particularly appropriate when fishing dries. If the tippet floats, it creates so much visual disturbance due to surface tension that its diameter is even less relevant. How hard it strikes the water, on the other hand, is I'm sure very important.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
GutcutterMay 20th, 2010, 8:03 pm

Posts: 470
well i have to chime in on this.
i fish thin tippetts and i'm proud of it.
if you "don't go smaller than 4x" then how do you fish size 24-26 tricos? or how do you fish a size 30 midge? if you don't then you are missing out on a whole lot of fun!
i will fish the size tippett that is appropriate for the conditions - the bugs hatching and the type of water i'm fishing. yes, i will fish 4x or larger (sometimes) with a nymph, but except for really big drys -size 12 or larger-(green drakes, march browns, hoppers and big beetles) i fish dry with no larger than 5x.
it's not the tippet's fault if YOU break off and leave the fly in the fish's mouth. it is YOUR knots or wind knots (i never get them) or damage caused by catching YOUR backcast on some brush behind you (never happens to me) and not checking and then re-tying YOUR leader. in otherwords - it is YOUR fault.
how do i know this? trial and error. o.k. so maybe i do get wind knots and maybe my backcasts aren't always perfect and maybe i'm sometimes too lazy to re-tie during a hatch but the tippet doesn't just snap in the middle. i snaps where the human messed it up. at the fly or at the junction knot or at the damaged section.
so now you're gonna say that i "play" the fish too long and lactic acid will build up and the fish will get too tired and then die...
i don't play fish. i fight them yes even on 7x and 8x. how? from the REEL. you spent all that money for what - the anodized finish? no! for the DRAG.
"what the hell does start up inertia mean anyway? i don't know its a really cool reel and everybody else has one so i better too..."
look at it this way: a 20 inch trout weighs what? three and a half or four pounds? that is on earth. what does it weigh in water? does it matter? i can routinely land an 18 inch fish on 7x in under two minutes on a trout stream. i did it over 50 times last summer in paradise valley. i can land them in around three on a fast river. how? by fighting it from the reel and using that nine foot lever arm (rod) for leverage with the appropriate angles. why the hell do you think we call ourselves anglers?
o.k.jmd123 - you seem to rant a lot about being unemployed so you probably have some time to kill.
figure out how much a 20" (4 pound) fish weighs in water and how strong 7x is (2-2.5 pounds depending upon manufacturer) and how to adjust your drag to 75% of the breaking strength of the line and use the lever at different angles to drag different hydrodynamic weights through the water and see what you come up with.
it may (or may not) change your thinking about this. hell 5x is over four pound test, so with 4x you could just yank a 20 incher over your shoulder with it.
sorry about MY rant but as wbranch feels about fly patterns, i feel about tippetts
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
TNEALMay 21st, 2010, 5:10 am

Posts: 278
Pleasecome and fish Northern Michigan where streams are small and filled with logs and other debris...
OldredbarnMay 21st, 2010, 6:37 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608
Spence seconds that emotion!
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
SofthackleMay 21st, 2010, 7:56 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
The author should also check his color facts. There really is no "yellow" wavelength in light. Green and red combine to make yellow. Red, Blue and Green combine to make various colors in the visible (to us) spectrum. I'm not arguing that trout can't see UV. I'm sure they can, but if you want to be exact, well......

There are many myths propagated in the realm of fly fishing. The most obvious is that we know everything there is to know about it.

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
OldredbarnMay 21st, 2010, 8:53 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608

"There are many myths propagated in the realm of fly fishing. The most obvious is that we know everything there is to know about it."

Lets push the philosophical envelope this morning and say that the above statement is true for life in general...Not just fly fishing...
Mr. Homo sapien thinks he's got it all worked out...Yet he keeps shooting himself in the foot.

As a Zen master might say, "Maybe we are just flat out over thinking this whole thing!" We are pursuing a critter with a brain not much bigger than a pea here. We are not doing the math required to bring the Apollo 13 back to earth...Let's have some fun! I'm going to all next week...I'll drink beer, poke some trout, drink beer, piss in the woods, drink some beer, eat some greasy onion rings at the Riverside Tavern which are probably fried in lard (a no-no for a vegetarian since he was 16), drink some beers, and poke some more fish...Go off the diet his lovely, loving wife has had him on since Jan!, drink some beers...You get the idea...I will tell you one thing, I won't be sitting on the bank with a micrometer trying to figure out if my terminal tippet diameter is off a hundredths..."Shit!!! Look at that monster I spooked from the lumber as I sat my lazy ass down here! I'll have to remember that for next time through, eh! Now where did I stow my Solunar Tables?"

Spence signing off to free himself from the virtual world and drive himself to paradise! Spence is suffering another bad case of Trout Fever...As the Who used to scream, "There ain't no cure for the summertime blues!" Except poking trout of course...

See ya! This man's out-of-control! And Grayling bound...Next stop...Crawford County. If they haven't burnt it to the ground by the time I get there.


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
SofthackleMay 21st, 2010, 9:07 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Wish I was in the back seat!

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
OldredbarnMay 21st, 2010, 10:00 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608

When you finally decide to go and we drag you away from your home waters you know you ride shot-gun mister! The back seat's for the empties :).

I do really need to settle down a bit. A few years back, after I had my second back surgery I blasted up. I was so happy to be done with the hassles I'd gone through.

I was sipping iced tea all the way up and the sound system was cranking and I was juiced...Not really thinking straight. I pulled in to the gas station in Grayling and the pump I had pulled up to didn't work...I went in and the guy said he was having problems with it all day...I went in to the bathroom and got back in the car to pull back to another pump and had left the nozzle in the car...Ripping it from the gas pump and tearing up the little door to the gas compartment on the car!

I got out of the car and there was a little guy carrying some groceries home to his mom. He was staring at me mouth agape and said, "Hey mister. You want me to go in and tell the man?" "No fella. I'm going to have to face him myself here. Thanks anyway."

When Rusty heard this story, after I had finally made it to the river, he just put his head down and shook his head and said, "Spence dammit! You are going to just have to slow yourself down!"

I'm trying to do that right now!


Everyone all week kept coming up to me and saying that I had left my gas door open...Some things we do are hard to live down.

Years ago my fishing buddy Bill would pick me up at 3:00am and we would drive up. We would stop for the traditional Grayling Restaurant omelet & hash-browns and we would head to the river. By the time I got there I would be so jacked up my hands would be shaking and I could hardly knot on a fly...I would look to my left and Bill would already be releasing his third little brookie and yelling at me, "Are you going to fish or what?! Lets go Mr. Lore..."

My grandfather would do pretty much the same thing when I was little and we would leave Detroit around 3:00 or so to chase bunnies for my birthday Jan 2nd. Sometimes we would drive through a blizzard to get there. I would give a million dollars if someone had filmed those trips up. My poor grandfather listening to this little jazzed up kid with a million questions and chisling every word he said to him in to his memory. He gave me the keys to the city mister. That man set me free!
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Jmd123May 23rd, 2010, 9:03 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2609
GEEEEZ, Spence, I was gonna respond to this thread but your last two posts have me completely WORN OUT so now I can't write sh*t...

Suffice to say, I don't use teenie-tiny flies as I don't run into them all that often, so I don't particularly like using tiny tippet sizes either. I also don't like nymphing, sports cars, dry wines, or any number of other things so I don't do them either. What works for me may not work for you - as I said, your results may differ...


No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

Quick Reply

You have to be logged in to post on the forum. It's this easy:
Username:          Email:

Password:    Confirm Password:

I am at least 13 years old and agree to the rules.

Related Discussions

TitleRepliesLast Reply
Re: Help identifying?
In the Identify This! Board by Doublezz105
3Jul 9, 2007
by Taxon
Re: Summer 2015 Fieldwork
In Site Updates by Troutnut
3Jun 28, 2015
by Martinlf
South Platte
In Fishing Reports by Sundula
Re: What mayfly is this
In the Identify This! Board by CouxJoe
9May 17, 2007
by Quillgordon
Re: Slump Buster
In Fly Tying by Mcflyangler
2May 5, 2017
by PaulRoberts
Re: Yellow Breeches
In Fishing Reports by Wbranch
2May 11, 2008
by Wbranch
Small Transparent Baitfish - Underwater Footage!
In Fly Tying by Mcflyangler
The Baby Bow Streamer
In Fly Tying by Mcflyangler
Re: FINALLY some trout fishing - not great but it's a start
In Fishing Reports by Jmd123
3May 23, 2014
by Jmd123
Re: old pic, new to the game
In the Identify This! Board by Mahones41
7Dec 3, 2011
by Taxon
Most Recent Posts
Re: Blue Ridge, GA fishing?
In General Discussion by MikeT1990 (Aff555 replied)
Re: Glass rods
In Gear Talk by Leakyboots (Michimike replied)
Re: Green midge larvae?
In General Discussion by Simon77777 (Wiflyfisher replied)
Re: Hiking boots for wading - any tips?
In Gear Talk by Bigfootry (MikeT1990 replied)
Re: Newb - first setup?
In General Discussion by Greg728 (MikeT1990 replied)