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Trout Bums at Large is a monthly column appearing in the Yakima Herald-Republic and the Seattle Times. The column is written by Randal Sumner and Mark Littleton. We will be keeping an archive of these articles on this page.

It's Hard
by Mark Littleton

I've heard people say "this year I am going to learn to flyfish", it makes me chuckle. I know that we are trying to catch something with a brain the size of a pea, but it isn't as easy as it sounds. I once heard an old farmer say about farming "it don't take but a lifetime to learn", the same can be said of flyfishing.

When I started flyfishing well over 25 years ago, I didn't know much about it. I had an old fiberglass rod and Perrine automatic reel, I don't know where they came from, they were probably my Dad's. I fished with this rig for years, I still have the reel. The flies I used were bought at a department store. At the time I had no idea what kind of bugs these flies represented. The thought process before tying on a fly went something like, "this was my lucky fly last time", not very scientific.

It was years before I found out that the flies that you fish with should be intended to imitate a specific insect that may be hatching at that time. I fished with a lot of goofy flies, they appealed to something in me and sometimes they even appealed to the fish. I caught fish on those flies, but my success wasn't what it could have been.

As I became more interested in flyfishing, I started to read books about in an effort to improve my skills. Over the course of years, I read every book I could find about flyfishing. What I found out was very interesting. There is a tremendous amount of extremely valuable information published about flyfishing. All you have to do is sort it out from the 95% of information in print that is either not useful, or misleading. I think some of the authors of these books are better writers than they are fishermen. I tried a lot of things that proved to be not just unhelpful, but downright counterproductive. The best way to learn the ropes is to have an expert take you under his wing. If you don't have access to a real expert (there are darn few of them), the best you can do is concentrate on what makes sense. Most bad advice doesn't make any sense if you stop and think about it.

There is so much to know. What insects do the trout feed on? What time of year do the important insects hatch? What time of day do the trout feed on the given insect? What is the most effective way to rig my gear for each situation and type of fishing? What is the best approach for a given situation? What type of insects are available to the trout now? What is the best size and type of fly for a given hatch? How do I get the best drift? What types of knots should I use? Where are the fish likely to be feeding now? It isn't nuclear science but it is almost as complicated.

Is it good thing or a bad thing that flyfishing is so complicated? A lot of people get frustrated and quit. You might argue that it is too much trouble to have to learn so much to be any good at it, and for you that might be the right answer. I think it is great that there is so much to know. If I knew all there is to know about flyfishing, I might quit. I'm sure I will never know all there is to know about it. I 'll never again be as good at the sports I played when I was younger, but I am planning on being a great flyfisherman by the time I am 70 years old, much better than I am today.

More Trout Bum Articles:
05/01/2015: The wolves will always eat the sheep by R.Sumner
11/17/2014: Red Fish Redux by R.Sumner
08/01/2014: Retirement by R.Sumner
07/02/2013: Custom by Randal Sumner
05/01/2013: Subaru Magic by Randal Sumner
01/19/2012: Ding Ho by RandalSumner
04/06/2011: A Cautionary Tale by Randal Sumner
01/26/2010: Redfish Round-up by Randal Sumner
11/24/2009: Kentucky Don and English Bob by Randal Sumner
08/25/2009: A word about Bears by R.Sumner
06/30/2009: Polar bear hugging by Randal Sumner
01/27/2009: Christmas letters by Randal Sumner
11/25/2008: Trip to Eden by Randal Sumner
08/07/2008: Mime Time by R. Sumner
06/02/2008: fuel vs fishing by R. Sumner
05/01/2008: Long sleeve Hawiian shirt by R.Sumner
02/07/2008: The Empire by R. Sumner
11/29/2007: Troutbum self-help by R. Sumner
09/04/2007: The Perfect Client by Randal Sumner
07/02/2007: High Anxiety by R.Sumner
03/29/2007: Grasshopper by Randal Sumner
01/25/2007: Chinese food by R. Sumner
11/30/2006: Old Whitey by R.Sumner
09/28/2006: Chief Holland USN retired by R. Sumner
07/10/2006: BBQ by R.Sumner
05/30/2006: Cashmere by R. sumner
03/30/2006: Sterling Choices by Randal Sumner
01/26/2006: Tying with Pablo by Randal Sumner
12/01/2005: Brrr by Mark Littleton
11/24/2005: Thanksgiving 2005 by randal Sumner
09/01/2005: Anchors Away by Mark Littleton
07/01/2005: Some kinda fun by Randal Sumner
05/01/2005: The Base Lake by Randal Sumner
04/01/2005: Humble Pie by Mark Littleton
03/01/2005: Dance monkey dance by randal Sumner
01/01/2005: Where are the Instructions? by Randal Sumner
12/01/2004: Das Boat by Mark Littleton
11/01/2004: What me Worry? by Mark Littlton
10/01/2004: Priorities by Mark Littlton
09/01/2004: Falling In by Mark Littleton
08/01/2004: Ice Fishing by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Honey, I flooded the basement by Randal Sumner
07/01/2004: Elvis Lives by Randal Sumner
06/01/2004: Coyote by Randal Sumner
05/01/2004: Redfish and Capt. Dan by Mark Littleton
04/01/2004: Vested Interest by Randal Sumner
03/01/2004: Are you a Troutbum? by Mark Littleton
12/01/2003: Christmas presents by Mark Littleton
11/01/2003: Oklahoma by Randal Sumner
10/01/2003: Steel heading JuJu by Randal Sumner
09/01/2003: Motor Home by Randal Sumner
08/01/2003: Life is Funny by Mark Littlton
07/01/2003: Deschutes by Mark Littleton
06/01/2003: Class of 2002 by Randal Sumner
05/01/2003: BOAT FISHING by Mark Littlton
04/01/2003: ALASKA, LAND OF THE MIDNIGHTBLUE TARP by Randal Sumner
03/01/2003: MARCH BROWNS by Mark Littleton
02/01/2003: DEEP IN THE HEART OF IDAHO by Randal Sumner
01/01/2003: TOP TEN by Mark Littleton
12/01/2002: SAN MIGUEL by Randal Sumner
11/01/2002: DISNEYLAND by Randal Sumner
10/01/2002: CAMPING by Mark Littleton
09/01/2002: MMMM MAYFLIES by Mark Littleton
08/01/2002: CARNEGIE HALL by Randal Sumner
07/01/2002: CRAWFISH PIE by Randal Sumner
06/01/2002: Sons and Pals by Mark Littleton
03/01/2002: Visitation by Randal Sumner
02/01/2002: Ouch by Mark Littleton
01/01/2002: Death by Randal Sumner
11/01/2001: Leakers by Randal Sumner
09/01/2001: Poser by Randal Sumner
08/01/2001: Snake River Diary by Mark Littleton
07/01/2001: Etiqutte by Randal Sumner
06/01/2001: June by Mark Littleton
05/01/2001: Road Trip to Paradise by Randal Sumner
04/01/2001: What Are They Doing Up There? by Mark Littleton
03/01/2001: Gear by Randal Sumner
02/01/2001: Soft Hackles by Mark Littleton
01/25/2001: Motivation by Randal Sumner
12/28/2000: Winter Fishing by Mark Littleton
11/30/2000: Old Blackie by Randal Sumner