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Illustration by Thom Glace – rainbow trout, brown trout, and brook trout. Used with permission.

It takes more to catch trout in a boil than to get the fly right

By Skip Clement

It was April, and I was thigh-deep in Big Pine; I had on a #14 Quill Gordon, a perfect match to the watery boil of the mayfly in the nymphal stage of life. I tried casting into the takes, around the periphery, into faster water, slower water, and not even a sniff.

John, a friendly US Steel millwright from McKeesport, Pennsylvania, whom I met the night before and breakfasted with at Cedar Inn, was catching rainbows one after the other. I noticed he was paying attention to my frustration. Finally, walking over and said: ‘Let me see. Ah,’ he said after a quick inspection, ‘your 6X mono tippet is coiling near the eye, and the line itself is creating a dark reflection from the sun bouncing off the line because it sits high in the water. You’re scaring the trout. Cut off a few feet of the mono and add a 3-foot piece of 6X fluoro – keep the fly. It’s perfect.’

His advice was also perfect

NOTE 1: Fluorocarbon that we use takes around 4,000 years to break down naturally, and the monofilament line takes several hundred years. Neither should be thrown on the ground as litter; pack snipped line out – avoid leaving it on the ground for the next few millennia.

NOTE 2: Fluorocarbon is denser than monofilament, making it more resistant to abrasion. Monofilament is nearly the same density as water, making it neutral-buoyant. This is the opposite of fluorocarbon, which is denser than both, allowing it to sink.

Wow! Talk about game on.

Every cast a fish with the fluoro sitting just under the water. It was the reflection bouncing off the mono tippet – frightening the trout. It was unnatural and, thus, refusal.

Later in the day, after dinner, John and I tried some casts to a modest rise of mayflies, and I caught the biggest brown I’d ever seen in these western Pennsylvania waters. The light was right; I saw it take, and I can still see it in my mind’s eye 53 years later.

Watch and listen as Peter Charles tells my story as it happened to him on his Canadian home waters at a different time and place  


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