Tips for fly fisherman

  • Dark day, dark fly; bright day, bright fly is a rule. The dividing line between bright and dark situations is whether the sun is visible. If the sun is not visible, then a dark pattern will be more effective. If the sun is faintly visible, then very likely, a dark pattern with a little sparkle would be the best choice. Bright sunlight, even with scattered clouds, indicates a bright pattern. Be careful with rules; in the rain, my first salmon on the George River rose to many flies, but at noontime, I finally took a green machine. I think the lesson here is that rain or no rain, at noontime, the light is at its maximum.

  • When you arrive at the river to fish, if the sun is out, always be aware of its position; is it shining from either upstream or downstream? Why is the sun's position so crucial? If the sun is shining from downstream, you are in highlight mode; if it is shining from upstream, you are in silhouette mode; if the sun is invisible, you are in invisible sun mode. Thus, the visible sun's position determines whether morning or afternoon is the best time to fish certain pools, and the invisible sun is completely neutral regarding the best time to fish the pool.

  • Highlight Mode is at least 3 to 5 times more productive than silhouette, more. Why? In my book Buck Bug Magic: Catch More Atlantic Salmon, pay close attention to page 62, which shows what the salmon actually see in both highlight and silhouette modes.

  • Silhouette Mode is by far the least productive mode for surface presentations; there are two reasons. Look at page 62 of Buck Bug Magic. First, a surface-oriented Atlantic salmon would ask you for a pair of sunglasses to scan the surface. Second, with a low in the horizon, the strong sun sees floating objects as colorless and dark objects; again, see page 62. In the days before the George River, when I didn't know what I didn't know. I seem to remember that the salmon I hooked were mid-water. Fishing for Pacific salmon involved weighted flies, sometimes with barbells. To hook Atlantic salmon in a strong upstream sun, I would use very much the same equipment, including a floating line but not a floating leader. I would select my flies all with up-eye hooks. I would make 90-degree casts and possibly encourage sinking to at least a foot from the surface.

  • Richard Boccaccio is a buyer of Buck Bug Magic: Catch More Atlantic Salmon who, in reading the book, came up with a great idea of his own, which he tested himself with good results he shared with me. I have not tried his method because I have not fished, but I am sure it works. The key to Buck Bug Magic is making deer hair flies wake over the river's surface, which appeals to Atlantic salmon. On page 15 of Buck Bug Magic, there is a diagram of how the leverage of a down eye hook actually causes the fly to rise to the surface and make a wake as it travels over the river's surface. The problem Richard recognized is that the down eye hook alone doesn't always furnish sufficient leverage, and the fly will ride below the surface of the water, especially if the water's surface has waves. Richard's idea is to attach the leader to the fly, so the attached leader adds additional leverage to the buck bug fly tied on a down eye hook. The attachment of the leader to the down eye hook is to insert the leader's tag end to the underside of the eye of the down eye hook, so the tag ends come out on the top of the fly. I have never tied this knot, but a quick perusal of Practical Fishing Knots by Mark Sosin and Lefty Kreh, The Lyons Press, 1981 will supply some useful knots. Richard is improving the leverage applied to the buck bug, which is the very essence of Buck Bug Magic's intent to make each buck bug wake as well as possible, which requires as much leverage as possible being applied to each buck bug's down eye hook.

  • The attachment of the leader to the down eye hook for the best leverage is to insert the leader's tag end through the underside of the down eye hook, so the tag end comes out on top of the fly's front end where it is cut when the knot is complete and the other end of the leaders extends from the underside of the down eye hook. Practical Fishing Knots calls this the improved turtle knot (pages 105–107). The knot we are making is the reverse of the one in the book. Richard's attaching the leader to the hook's underside improves leverage when applied to the down-eye hook and enables the fly to wake better.