Saturday, October 31, 2009

Old Green Rag

The Old Green Rag:

Lest we forget that fish have tiny little brains, and that despite all our time spent tying the perfect quill Gordon or blue charm, they often will behave quite contrary to predictions, and eat pine needles off the surface, or repeatedly strike the nail knot on your leader but not your fly.

Dan Landeen printed this story in his excellent book Steelhead Fly Fishing the Nez Perce Country (2006 Frank Amato Publications)
It was told to Dan by Dale Knoche, a longtime friend of Jimmy Green
I will paraphrase here. If you want the whole story, buy Dan’s book!



An old man walked down to the water on the Grand Ronde, struggling with each step to get over the cobble. He had an old bamboo rod that had seen a lot of use.

A couple of casts in he hooked a steelhead. He was a bit shaky on his feet, so Dale offered to help him land it. He replied that he could manage. He landed the fish and after a couple more casts hooked another steelhead. This time the man was pooped, and accepted Dale’s offer of assistance.

When the fish was landed, Dale took a look at the fly the old man was using, and asked him what the heck it was. “Old green rag” was the reply. It was a piece of an old green woolen shirt simply wound about the hook. The old man said he had taken hundreds of steelhead on that fly, and that it was all he ever used.



The reason I like this story is that it takes us all down a peg or two. I like to offer pretty and traditional flies to the fish out of respect and art, but they would be just as likely to hit just about anything. Just reinforces the concept that having confidence in the fly is 90% of the battle.

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