K.I.S.S. by Ben Helgeson


Applying the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly) principle to something as fraught with minutia as fly fishing may initially seem to be a pointless or impossible endeavor. With endless variables in habitat, water flow, species, gear, flies, casting techniques, presentation techniques, and so on, any angler can start to feel overwhelmed with complicated equations. As important as any of these elements can be, our experience has been that every angler can benefit from keeping things simple. Here are a few common over-complication pitfalls and the simple alternatives that we’ve found to yield success for anglers of every ability:

1. Tool Seduction: There’s no doubt about it fly fishing gear is cool. So are boxes loaded with every kind of bug in every size. However, spending too much time worrying about flies and equipment, along with making all kinds of micro-adjustments in either can prove to be counter-productive. Remember, “beginner’s luck” often has to do with the simple truth that she or he is keeping their fly in the water more often. Make adjustments in rod choice, line diameter, and fly choice when necessary, but not so often as to pass the point of diminishing returns (of trout to your net).

2. The Grass is Always Greener: Working even a known-to-be-productive riffle, run, or pool can be an exercise in patience. While waiting for trout to decide it’s dinnertime, thoughts can easily wander to that next run round the bend, that riffle downstream, or the notion that all the trout have moved to the other side of the river. Sure, there could be trout there too, but likely you’ve got some at cast’s length and all you need is to concentrate on quality drifts. Before giving up on a spot, give yourself a goal number of top quality drifts. Cruising around a river seems adventurous, but taking time to wait and work a holding area thoroughly is a simple and successful way to hook more fish.

3. Battle of Wills: Sight fishing for a lone wolf trout can be fun, exciting, and rewarding. However, I’ve also blown hours casting at a single stubborn trout only to walk away from the stream with steam coming out my ears. Especially for novice anglers, finding the pools or runs with several trout is a far more simple and fun way to fish than to meander the calm clear water sight fishing. I look for areas with water moving fast enough to disguise myself. I’ll also seek out water with decent depth and speed to carry my drift so that trout don’t have all day to make a decision but it’s not screaming past them either. This type of water allows for short casts and clean, simple drifts.

The next time you’re bringing a friend or family member fishing for the first time, or even find yourself wanting a NASA super computer to calculate the variables in your head, remember this: SIMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL. (Speaking of beautiful, check out these fish we caught while remembering to K.I.S.S.)