The air is cold, you pull out the heater, sit in your favorite chair, and begin to tie yet another supply of fishy arsenal. Synapses fire rapidly and you smile smugly, pondering next year’s goals and the big ones that won’t get away. You take a bite out of your half-cold reuben. Sauerkraut slops down the corner of your mouth. It’s the perfect time to ask yourself, “How geeky am I?” I would consider myself one of the geeky-est peeps out there. Let me explain…
For those of you that don’t know, I’m an aquatics biologist. With that title comes some eccentric, even peculiar attributes. One of which is not only a passion for fish, but rather, for entire aquatic ecosystems. When the typical angler is thinking, “Bro, is that a stonefly?!..” I’m thinking, “That is a sexy, late instar Hesperoperla pacifica…. BOOYA!” Ha ha. Psycho right? Well, I argue that to reach your full potential as an angler, a little “WEIRDO” is necessary. In a vague, roundabout way, I’m getting at bugs. Creepy, crawly, tasty, and yes…RAD bugs. Do I have an aquatic bug collection of 100+ specimens? Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. Ok… yes I do.
Here at OSF, we wanted to start coughing up some easier ways to learn entomology as it relates to fly fishing. I remember when I was a novice angler, the “art of bugs and hatch matching” seemed nearly impossible. Now, looking back, I couldn’t have been more wrong. A few tips came to mind that helped me grab the knowledge that led to exponentially more fish in the net and thinking about fly fishing entomology the right way. First off, don’t believe that being able to ID every bug is impossible. There actually aren’t as many bugs (that relate to flyfishing) as you would initially think. Trust me.
The main point I want to get across however, is this: if you aren’t already, START LOOKING for bugs! The first thing I do when I arrive at a waterbody is see what food sources are available to the fish I so desperately need. Flip some rocks, pull up some vege, drag a log out of the river, or use an insect seine or stomach pump. Examine your findings CLOSELY. ( I even have a magnifying glass the size of Derek’s net in my pack). The bottom line is this: If you know what is in the drift, you are going to be able to better match what the fish sees AND you will catch more fish in the end. Identification is the next step… and we’ll definitely get to that, but it’s all about finding bugs first.
Here are a couple tips to get started:
- Even if you can’t ID a bug species, looking at it up close will give you an idea of shape, size, and color of what’s in the drift. Savvy?
- Buy a stomach pump. Cheap, small learning curve, but then 100% surety of what the fish are eating NOW.
- Stay tuned for more entomology posts! We promise to keep it fresh so that you don’t fall asleep in class.
Have any questions or buggy tips you have leaned in your experiences? Post em’ up in the comments section! We get plenty of inquiries in the inbox and we’d love to hear more of the questions you have and things you’d like to hear more about.entomology