Can’t Buy a Thrill?*

John C. Melfi


Imagine that you’re fishing in an area where you believe fish to be, or even better, that you’re fishing over sighted fish. You’ve tried several of your ol’-reliable, almost-never-fail patterns. But you’re getting nothing; no looks, no bumps, no hookups.

Maybe the fish just don’t like you today. I imagine that we’ve all had that happen; those excruciating days where fish are pouty and just refuse to play, no matter how good your presentation. Consider, though, that there are lots of reasons a fly sometimes won’t work. What follows are some fly-specific issues that can spoil your chances no matter how great your presentation may be.

1) Your Fly is Fouling.

This is the number-one action killer. When the fly’s materials wrap around or under the hook’s bend, fish won’t go near it. Now, I’m sure there have been exceptions to this; maybe seven decades ago Joe Brooks caught a nice bonefish on a fouled Platinum Blonde. But it’s never happened to me.

It’s best to take it as a matter of faith that a fouled fly won’t catch fish. So if everything else seems right but the fish are showing no interest in your offerings, do what good captains do: assume that the fly is fouled and check it. It’s a super-fast and easy fix, and it will work wonders.

Note that certain flies, especially bunny flies used for tarpon and the like, are the worst offenders. There are ways to reduce fouling, mainly by using glue and/or mono foul-guards at the back of the hook. See the tying pages of for details.

2) Your Fly Looks Lifeless in the Water..................

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE AT:  (Issue 6, page 18)

Flyfishbonehead & Tail Fly Fishing Magazine!

*With due appreciation to Steely Dan for their 1972 album of the same name.