10 ways to catch more trout

Bushmans (14 of 26)

That got their attention!

This article is not about ten ways to catch more trout. It is an article about how numbers get our attention.

Us flyfishermen are chilled. We are cool. We have been fishing for years. We don’t care how many we catch anymore. We are above that. Competition is so yesterday. We are far more noble than that. “So how big did you say that fish was….45cms?” and “let me see, what is that in inches”.   “By the way what was the water temp?” ……….So you see, numbers DO  matter. I knew it!

No matter how blasé we are, or how loosely we wear our buff, or how full the hip flask is, we measure things, and we record things. And we are just a little bit obsessed with it too.  “How many kms did you guys go up the river?”. “Was it a cock fish or a hen fish?”; “So what size was that Caddis pattern, an 18?”

Caddis (2 of 6)


Do you see what I mean? We measure everything!  I guess it is part of what I have heard called “The human condition”. You cannot escape it. How many days was the fishing trip?  How many hours did it take to drive there?.  How long is that fly rod? People want to know. It is important. Apparently. It must be. My most viewed blog post is one entitled “8 things to consider about sun gloves”. How random is that!  I wonder if this one, with the number ten in it, will get 20% more views…..there I go again…measuring.

So, if we accept that we can’t escape measuring and recording, and that we are predisposed to it, to some degree at least, we had might as well decide on a few things to measure to satisfy that apparent craving. Then we can ditch the rest. So what will it be? What is important for a flyfisherman to measure?

Someone recently suggested that my top statistic is Kms walked per trout caught, and that a low number won’t do. I had to think about that. In some perverse way, I think they may be right. Its never good enough to park the car, jump out and catch a fish within sight of the sign or the road or the car. That is just not cricket. You must work for your fish!. Well, I don’t know about you but I must anyway.


Then there are inches and pounds. I have absolutely no idea how big a 45cm fish is, or a 1 Kg fish. Nada. Nothing. Blank. No idea. Sugar in kilograms. Irrigation pipes in centrimetres. Fish in pounds and inches. That is just how it is for me. If you tell me you got a “74” I will assume it to be a species of sea fish. If it is a “56”, I can only assume it is a close relative. I have no idea whether it would fit in your hand, your fridge, or your house.

I can picture a river Brown, and if it is over twelve inches, that means something to me, and it is important.

Stippled Beauties (13 of 42)

There you go. I said it. My buff just tightened around my neck. Not cool, but true. I need to know how big the fish was.

Then comes temperature. This is absolutely critical, for no reason whatsoever.


As a kid I read Joe Humphries on “fishing by degrees” in his book “Trout Tactics”. Temperature was clearly critical. I can’t remember why,  (beyond the obvious one of a cool side-stream or spring in summer) but the chapter must have made an impression, because since 1981 every fishing day’s water temperature is measured and recorded. Air temperature too.

And fly size; plus weight of outfit used; leader X; sex of fish; kept or returned; Rainbow or Brown; hours fished; wind speed and direction; cloud cover; time fish caught; species hatching; flies used.


OK, I admit it: I am a goner. A head-case. I can’t help myself. I am chilled. I am cool. I am not competitive, I assure you. That buff is loose around my neck. But I must measure. It is an affliction!

I think you have it too. (even if you won’t admit to it)


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10 Responses

  1. Wonderfully written piece, thank you.
    I agree, fish and new born babies should be measured in pounds, and stream trout in inches. I equally have no idea if a 36cm trout is a good one or not, it means nothing to me. Oddly obsessions with male anatomy equally tend towards the imperial scale and one never hears jokes about a 22.86cm willie do you? Tippet sizes are best measured in X factor or inches, if only because the rule of 11 allows easy conversion. A 5X tippet is 0.006″ (the numbers add to 11), remembering 0.153mm is too much for me. So whilst I am happy these days to measure my travel in Kilometers and follow recipes with grams of flour for some reason trout, tippet and rod lengths are best understood in pounds, ounces, feet and inches. The Americans have never made the conversion to metric scales, other than as suggested in a favoured quotation. “the apparent growing popularity of the 9mm bullet”… 🙂

  2. Haha. A great piece thank you! Enjoying the comments section, perhaps a bit too much 😉
    As I sat perched in a tube on a new stillwater with some slow fishing, this article came to mind. Fishing buddy was also slunk in tube with fins out the water, head arched precariously backward. I new I would win this session! But then I found myself counting the Spurwings in each ‘V’. How many jerseys did I pull on this morning? How long till I get to steal a sip from the steel. Re-counting the rises seen that morning and how far apart they were and how long a cast I could get in without a startle. The temperature over each half hour, increasing or decreasing. The time it would take to beach and run up to the house for a coffee! Then slowly remembering how many fish we took last week, where were they?
    I agree totally on competition fishing, the numbers are there for us but so are the memories and the thrill of the take. That’s all I need!
    Then wham! Fishing buddy hits two high-in-pounders!
    Another round lost as I realise the coffee is going to have to wait a bit longer.

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