a real gem from Alan Bulmer at Active Angling New Zealand for your trout-hunting pleasure. Alan proposes that rise form recognition is ‘a lost skill’ and even if it isn’t completely lost, it’s a subject that’s rarely touched upon in contemporary fly fishing literature whether that be in print, on the net or among anglers themselves.
in a roundabout way, the average fly fisher will see a rise or rings and assume that the fish is feeding on or in the surface film and instantly tie on a dry fly or emerger but the keen observer will notice that there’s a lot more to it than that.
as we’ve previously seen in How fish eat, and how Alan astutely points out at the end of his piece, “The peculiarities of a rise form are not easy to observe. Often it cannot be said with certainty what fly has been taken; the rings of each pattern proceed so rapidly outwards that the pattern is always in a state of change”, as with most things in life, there are no absolutes and there’s always countless, unavoidable variables but the more we know, the better we can react to that knowledge and simply get better at what we do while feeling a bit more fulfilled.
all this hopefully inciting to spend more time observing and not just randomly looking, this article’s subject is about trout but the same principles with a few variations of course can be applied to other insect-eating fish.
here’s a few morsels to wet your appetite:
“There is one chapter in particular which is fascinating and that is a sixteen page treatise on analysing rise forms. This chapter summarises much of what had been learned through observation by the masters*, GEM Skues, Harding, Lamond and Taverner himself. These fly fishermen pioneered the sport and their observational and analytical skills were legendary. This book was published in their hey day so it must have been cutting edge at the time.
Back in the day analysing trout rise forms was considered a necessary skill for dry fly and nymph fishermen. Those skilled in the art could look at a surface disturbance, characterise it as bulging, humping, tailing, sucking, sipping, slashing, pyramid, kidney, head and tail, porpoise roll or spotted ring and accurately determine what the trout was feeding on and where in the water column it was feeding. In some cases they even counted the number of tiny bubbles appearing within the ring formed as the trout rose to determine what fly to use. This is a skill which I fear may no longer be in the repertoire of most anglers.”
click on either image for the complete article. this is really-really good stuff, enjoy !
* note how there’s absolutely no mention of the redundant Halford…