The question is not how to fish, but why you do it. The author and his fishing buddies do it out of necessity. It’s more important than life and death to them to escape the human world, step in to water and wave a stick. Left on the shore is their misery and worries. Standing in the water they find freedom, healing and occasionally a fish.
Battles are lost and won with tongue in cheek and always celebrated with mountains of cake and an endless stream of fresh espresso coffee. To the band of brothers it’s more important who you fish with than how big the fish is; except for the ones lost.
You may not learn a lot about catching more and bigger fish, but reading these stories is like holding a mirror up in front of yourself getting a little wiser. The small why is a big one.
This artickel is written by Danish photojournalist Søren Skarby
Small is always a matter of context. A small pike fly is infinitely larger than a small trout fly, but no matter the context, small flies are often important to have, often even the deciding factor between and take and a refusal.
Caddis are important prey for trout and grayling. Some species leave their pupal case and swim towards the surface. Here they swim towards shore to hatch on land or in vegetation. They’re fairly big and you can easily see them almost rowing along the surface. This behaviour obviously makes them highly exposed to trout and grayling, but also very fun to fish, because you can skate and twitch the fly, which often triggers quite aggressive strikes. Skating and twitching is often something we strive to avoid when dry fly fishing, but in this case, it’s exactly the way to fish.
You remember mr. Wicked Trout? Our good friend, Stefan Larsson. Dry fly fisher par excellence, rock ’n’ roll bass player and singer, whisky connoisseur and in the trenches in the fight against dams on his home rivers in Älvdalen in Sweden.
It may seem convenient to buy loose feathers in a bag, instead to buy a whole hide. But if you go through what’s in the bag and sort the feathers, you discover that the percentage of usable feathers is often quite low and not infrequently you end up without the feather you needed. Of course there is a higher price for a whole skin compared to a bag of feathers, but a whole skin has so many benefits that outweigh the investment.
The great grayling fishing in Älvdalen draws fly fishers from all over Sweden, but many remain unaware that the area also offers excellent trout fishing. Älvdalen is Swedish and literally means ”the valley of rivers”.
When it comes to my home water, Österdaläven, it’s mostly known for its large population of grayling, which, as we all know, is a great fish to chase with the fly rod. Also, they are quite willing to rise to a well-presented dry fly, which most fly fishers appreciate. The excellent grayling fishing has pushed the trout a bit in the background. The trout population has been under pressure by a big dam and timber rafting. They have survived and the population has grown strong and offers high-quality fishing.
Mayflies, caddis, damsels, stone flies and other water insects appear in a variety of sizes, colours and shapes. What they all have in common is that their nymphal stage lasts a year (for some more), while the winged, adult stages are very short in comparison. Logic dictates that the nymphal stages of different water insects are far more important as a good source on a yearly basis than the winged, adult ones. Many of us prefer catching trout and grayling when they’re visibly rising, but nymph fishing is just as fun and will catch fish when the dry fly doesn’t.
Sedge og caddis? I’ve been told that caddis is the common term in America, sedge the common term in the UK. I don’t really know and it doesn’t matter much, since I think most people know that both terms cover the same insect. Caddis is a very important food source for trout and grayling. They are abundant in both still- and running water and generally not as clean-water-dependant as many mayflies and stoneflies are. Some species grow quite large, so they also represent more protein pr. bite than smaller insects.
Many flyfishers are looking for the time when the big mayflies, E. Danica and E. vulgata, start to hatch in late spring and early summer. The image of a big newly hatched mayfly dun swirling down the stream or standing on the surface of a small lake, is for many of us the true picture of what flyfishing is all about. And it is great fun to see, when also the biggest fish lower their guard and start chasing those big flies. But in Stillwater, there as time that are even more fun to experience and that’s when the big Caddis flies begin to show, running the surface to safer ground.