Flyfishing Q & A
By Jack Gagnon

Despite my ability to snag a fly on a tree branch or screw up a knot as well as the next guy, I am asked for advice. In this month's column, I will reply to the few questions I feel qualified to answer.

Q: Two of us are taking a float trip on Montana's Big Horn. The outfitter says he'll supply all the flies we need. My fishing partner, who will be visiting from New Mexico, wants to know if it's okay to bring some extra terrestrials.

A: Your guide's job is to see that you catch fish and have a safe trip. The number of extra terrestrials your friend is allowed to bring will probably be determined by the seating in the boat. I expect they will need visas or an equivalent I.D. Check with Customs and let me know what they say, okay pal?

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Q: I am considering becoming a guide, but I'm unsure about the long term income potential. Is it rude to ask a guide "What is your net worth?"

A: Heck no! If it was a valuable antique made from rainforest mahogany he wouldn't be fishing with it. I'll bet he'll even tell you where he bought it.

Q: Last May, my brother in law convinced me to drive six hundred miles to fish at his camp in Pennsylvania. I expected beautiful weather and Baetis hatches. Well it rained like hell, and the olives were gone before I got there. What could have salvaged this trip?

A: A jar of cocktail onions.

Q: I can't seem to cast very far, no matter what grip I use. I've tried putting my thumb up on top, on the side, half on top, half way under... Ah! What's the use? I'm about ready to hitch a ride to the nearest asylum or take up bird watching What can you tell me about my grip?

A: You've lost it.

Q: Please explain the terms "shooting line" and "double haul".

A: During happy hour, a male angler may attempt to flatter potential spawning partners by shooting a well worn line around the room. If he interests not just one, but two possible mates, this is referred to as a double haul.

Q: My wife Barbara and I first met at flyfishing school. We went to Montana on our honeymoon, and then traveled for two years, fishing the world's best trout streams. But recently, her sister got her involved in charity work and she completely lost interest in fishing. Any suggestions? I've already booked another trip to New Zealand.

A: Fish Barbless.

Q: How important is it to match the hatch?

A: So you just backed the new SUV into a tree and it doesn't feel at all like happy hour anymore. No reason to panic. Call home with a good alibi for returning a couple days late. Then go to a reputable body shop that can match the paint exactly. And I mean exactly, or welcome to the weekend world of mixed double bowling leagues. Trust me on this one.

Q: What's the difference between a golden trout and a char?

A: About fifteen minutes on the campfire.

Q: What would be considered a big bull trout?

A: The one mentioned in the outfitter's promotional literature.

Q: What is a double tapir?

A: If you're fishing in South America and you've had some of the local rum, it's probably just one tapir.

Q: What is a "may-fly" ?

A: A heavily discounted weekend flight to Belize, on a carrier you've never heard of.

Q: I'm planning a saltwater flyfishing trip and I need advice. The outfitter's brochure describes "...private, untouched bonefish flats." But in addition to cash for "minimum daily gratuities," it seems I'll need "local, federal, and provincial licenses" and a rather expensive "Angler's Certificate of Permission." I never heard of this stuff before. How do I contact the proper authorities? Where do I have to go to locate the permit?

A: Those are two questions a lot of us have asked for a long time.

Q: How can I eliminate that always troublesome glare?

A: When announcing plans for another week-long fishing trip, phone your wife or girlfriend from the office. (A good basic guideline when planning any fishing trip: Avoid eye contact; keep out of reach of children.)

Q: I'm learning to flyfish at a free seminar at the local high school. I'm a beginner, and the instructor showing me how to tie fishing knots was quite impatient and critical. I asked him to cut me some slack and he got very upset. Was this wrong?

A: Please don't ever write to this paper again.

Q: The carp in my local reservoir aren't, by definition, game fish. But they're as spooky as bone fish, they fight just as hard and they're a lot bigger. They're even edible. So why did I just fly two thousand miles and spend a month's salary to catch three bonefish?

A: Maybe you also want to reconsider the definition of a sucker.

Q: I'm taking my first guided Atlantic salmon trip next month. Should I tip heavily at the end of each day?

A: As long as you can still get up and go fishing in the morning, that's pretty much up to you.

Q: What is meant by the "terminal end" of flyfishing tackle?

A: My first wife put all my bamboo rods in the driveway and drove over them with the pickup. My second wife burned them in the woodstove. Both times, that was that.

Jack Gagnon lives in Lakeville, Maine. He has written for a number of sporting publications.

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