I don’t think I’m a hermit but I’m not far from it. I’d rather find the solitude of fishing a stream or creek than put myself in the throbbing masses of a retail environment, a large scale sporting event, or sometimes even a grocery store. Irony, lies within those statements, as my work usually encompasses attendance that range in to tens of thousands.
Charming is not often used to describe me, although I can occasionally display it; perhaps it would be best to consider me anti-social although that descriptive term contains too many sociological behaviors that are worrisome to me. I think it is best to consider me as a “social exclusionary”; but I meet the most interesting people while out in the woods and those conversations are often impetus for table top conversations and dining room discussions that cover philosophy, history, and strategy.
The boy and I were fishing a small section of the North Fork of Elkhorn Creek in our native land of Kentucky the other day, and the summer pools were offering deep buckets over fist sized rocks and gravel beds and the ever changing nature of the structure that this particular creek offers. It was easy wading and I was absorbed in changing the flaws I saw in his cast and my own fishing so I didn’t see or hear the older fellow paddle up in his kayak. He came within 20 feet of us before announcing his presence and while these circumstances would normally be a cause for concern for most people to be wary of others in the woods, his grandfatherly patter soon put us to ease.
After a few minutes of easy back and forth, the fly boxes opened up and comparisons began. He was a top-water kind of fellow and I’m a bit of a subsurface streamer/hackle sort of guy so the fly comparisons were interesting and detailed; in an unexpected moment of generosity he handed my son four flies—two top water poppers of the standard style (size 12 and 14 and in black with red eyes and black legs) but the two he handed over that drew the most attention were modern renditions of an old bass pattern tradition called the “fly and rind”, essentially a deer hair fly with a plastic curly trailer. They’ve been used around these parts for at least over 50 years and I remember my grandfather using a similar rig.
The “fly and rind” is a simple buck tail hair fly that was traditionally employed with a pork chunk trailer. This particular fly was seemingly tied on a size 8 or 10 dry fly hook (1x fine wire), with a slight body of white dubbing accentuated with a palmered white hackle, and closest to the eye, was a bundle of trimmed buck tail that extended to the end of the hook. A plastic curly cue was tied in as a tail and the action it gave to the fly while in the water was simply subtle . The entire fly was white but I’ve seen them in various colors but the either the white or brown of a buck tail were the traditional methods.
The Fly and Rind is a simple hair jig that is to be fished as a crawdad emulator—throw it parallel to the bank for shallower water situations and allow it to sink to the bottom of the stream bed. A slow twitch retrieve is to be employed in which the fly is slowly bounced across the bottom with long pauses when it rests on the bottom, which is a similar behavior of a craw dad. Move it 2-4’ at a time.
It’s hard to say what might come out of those creek side conversations but they are usually worth having—and the fly is now sitting on my dining room table and, as I look at it, I’m trying to figure out how to make my own version of the venerable classic.