He placed the fly in my palm.
“What’s it called again?”
He told me and gave me the basic recipe.
“One more thing,” he said, “don’t tell anyone about this fly.”
“Right.” I put my finger to my nose, winked and laughed.
He forced a laugh but interrupted it with, “no, seriously though,” he looked me in the eyes, “don’t tell anyone about this fly.”
I stopped laughing.
“It consistently out fishes all my other flies on any river in the valley.”
“I’m going to need to hear you promise.”
As I’ve talked to other anglers, I’ve found that many of them have similar stories or flies. People have their secret spots (I have one) that they don’t share with even their closest fishing friends. And I guess it makes sense. Angling is steeped in folklore and luck. Anything that is predicated on lies as much as fishing is, (the flies themselves and the fish that anglers “catch”) has to have its secrets.
I placed my friend’s fly in my box and immediately forgot about it until a day on the Blacksmith Fork River. There was a small mayfly hatch (both in size of flies and number of flies) occurring and I fished to the risers. I couldn’t catch them. I switched from a size 18 Renegade to a size 16 Parachute Adams. Nothing. As an afterthought I tied on my friend’s secret fly as a dropper. Right after the flies touched the water I saw the Adams take a familiar dip. The secret fly produced a 10-inch Brown. I didn’t think much of it because I knew I should be catching fish at the spot. I wiggled him off the hook and cast to the same spot. I pulled in a 14-inch Brown on the secret fly. I unhooked him and popped off the dry and put on an indicator. The fly always produces—I have yet to be skunked with it.
I don’t necessarily believe that it’s a sacred fly, but I do believe I fish it with confidence and that’s more productive than any secret. I angle with a friend who wills fish on to lines. “You will catch a fish in that pool. They are there. Oh perfect cast. That will produce. See? See?” He’s almost always right and I’m half convinced that his confidence conjures these fish. I have several flies that I fish with confidence that often produce. My friend’s secret fly is one of them—but so are Purple Hazes and Pheasant Tails. One of my friend’s swears by the Surveyor—but I can’t catch anything on it. I just don’t believe in it.
**This post may seem similar to this one. It’s because Chadd and I both wrote these after a conversation that we had. We went with Chadd’s first because it’s (in my opinion) a better essay. But Every Day In May challenges will dredge up some stuff.