Forget Latin Insect Names, Focus on Fly Presentation

by Tony Orman
In my job as a farming journalist, I attended many field days aimed at making farmers more efficient. Two things struck me but both are interrelated.
The same keen local farmers attended – perhaps 25 percent of all.
  1. A recurring theme advocated by guest speakers was the need to strive to be better and thirst for knowledge.
And from that those 25 percent, were invariably the top bracket of farmers.
It’s really no different to most things, trout fishing being just one. The old adage is “ten percent of anglers catch 90 percent of fish.” I’m not sure of the numbers but in short a minority of trout anglers catch most of the trout.
Why?
Because they are eager for more knowledge and to learn.
With that in mind, I recently picked up a second hand book “Fishing Dry Flies for Trout on Rivers and Streams” by an American writer Art Lee published back in 1981.
Art Lee in his introduction wrote that he was convinced, first and foremost trout fishing should be fun. After admitting that he became too preoccupied at times and lost sight of the ”fun”, he told of scanning, perusing and reading scores of angling books.
Among them were “tidy ones and tedious ones”.
“Some have been useful, a few even inspiring. As a body of work, however they have left me troubled, primarily due to a pervasive bias towards portraying (fly fishing) as much more complicated Then a page further on, Art Lee says in answer to some critics who might complain that his book “isn’t very scientific  in contemporary fashion” then they should look elsewhere. “Those who seek yet another dissertation on aquatic insect life with Latin names” won’t find it in his book.
It’s an echo of the words of colourful American fly fishing author Lee Wulff who once wryly wrote along the lines of “don’t worry about Latin names of  insects trout feed on, because trout don’t know Latin.”
The one disincentive to venturing into dry fly fishing is that some writers and some fly fishers complicate it, weaving a mystique around it that seems quite daunting.
Further over midway through the book Art Lee attacked the  theory of “matching the hatch” and the associated second theory of “precise representation”.
“Some anglers feel obliged to abandon common sense in favour of obsessively locking themselves into precise representation —- as if failure to do so would erase all chance of success.”
Art Lee went further at the risk of offending some when he added, that he had met few people preoccupied with precise representation who he believed were truly skilled fly fishermen.
“I have witnessed though, many anglers who attempt to rationalise deficiences in technique by spending countless hours memorising insect species by Latin names and then concocting replicas of them, hours that would be more wisely used, mastering the elements of fly presentation.”


Concentrate on presentation and heaven knows what you might catch 

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2 Responses to Forget Latin Insect Names, Focus on Fly Presentation

  1. "Deleatidium" Mayfly says:

    Very true. Wise words

  2. Charles Henry says:

    Actually, I’m having great fun in my later years learning (or refreshing) my schoolboy Latin.
    Far more benefit to me than that horrible invented language Te Reo.
    Usus linguae non sit mortua, id est, post omnes, magnam

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