For the love of dry flies
If you’ve ever lived in the Pacific Northwest, you might understand what I mean when I say that April can feel like one giant, month-long Wednesday. We’re past the cold, rainy darkness of Winter, but we’re still not quite to the consistent warmth and beauty of Summer. Flowers are blooming and the days are getting longer for sure, but there’s still just enough grey and rain that we remain uneasy about the weather. In some ways it feels as though we’re sitting somewhere in the middle of it all: too close to Summer to not be getting excited about it, but not far enough removed from Winter for it to be out of our minds completely.
As a fly fisherman who has a deep love for chasing fish with dry flies, April in the Northwest represents the time that I get especially twitchy. The last 5 or 6 months have held some great moments fishing chunky flies with heavy rods for big fish, no doubt. But for my money, nothing beats watching a fish rise through the water column to a fly floating on top, the feel of the take and hook-set, and then fighting the fish on a light rod as it alternates between trying to break you off by diving to the bottom of the river and throwing the fly by catapulting itself out of the water. While April represents the beginning of some sporadic dry fly fishing on a couple of rivers within a day’s drive of Seattle, it’s really just one big tease for the heart of dry fly season that is still a couple of months away. Like I said, it’s a month-long Wednesday that gets me all twitchy.
This twitch was taken to new levels a few nights ago when I saw my beloved box of dry flies sitting on the shelf covered in a thin layer of dust. It was almost like seeing your first car sitting in a junkyard, or like re-watching a favorite childhood show only to realize that the acting and plot-lines are both atrocious–it kind of makes your heart sink a bit. This box of flies almost becomes an extension of myself during the Summer, and in some ways serves as a soothing and simplistic contrast to the unknown aspects of Winter: inside of its’ small, double-sided design lies every fly that I could ever need on the small creeks of a Washington Summer. There is no need for 3 boxes of flies containing a multitude of patterns, sizes, and weights to cover whatever situation Winter throws at you during the Summer, and so the handful of patterns contained inside of it rarely change, and therefore lead to a personal identification with each pattern. Sure, I’ll go ahead and say it: the elk hair caddis, orange stimulator, parachute madam-x, and olive tilt-wing dun that reside inside of the box become almost like friends. And do you like to see your friends sitting on a shelf, covered in dust? I didn’t think so.
Hopefully I’ll get a chance to hit the Upper Yakima in the coming weeks, and in the process get a chance to pack the box of dries along in hopes of finding fish rising to eat bugs on the surface. Even if the fish aren’t rising to feed, I’ll probably still tie on a dry fly or two anyways, if for no other reason than to subdue the twitch and get me through Wednesday and Thursday and into the 3 month weekend that is Summer in the Northwest.