Observation is an extremely important fundemental to fly fishing

Billinghurst_HeronPercy J. Billinghurst

It’s easy to gear-up, wade into the water, and begin fishing, but this method is missing a crucial step. First, take time to observe the situation. Subtle indicators are usually present and noticed with keen observation: a small ripple below an overhanging tree, mayflies in a spider web that were not there yesterday, or the sudden gathering of birds near the water’s edge. Keen observation trumps all.
Have you ever watched a Heron stalk its prey? They don’t move and when they do it is very slowly. The most logical reason the Heron hunts this way is to not give up its presence. This is what we must do as anglers. The easiest way I have found to accomplish this is to slow down. It can be difficult at times but one of the best things one can do when first arriving at the stream is to sit down and simply observe. Often the evidence for the day’s strategy will show itself to you. It may be the small dimple rises on the far bank that morph into a large snout, or the Caddis cases lined-up in the same direction at the base of a submerged rock. Simple quiet observation has other benefits; it slows you down after the long drive to get there, and helps you find the rhythm of your surroundings. Now that you are zoned in take the step into your quarries lair and find him before he ever knows you are there.

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