Understanding the Fly Fishers Triad
Understanding the fly fishers triad offers a methodology to your progress as a fly fisher. It has been an ongoing book project for over a decade in regards to setting a path for fly fishers to progress. This parsimonious concept puts it all together well for all levels of anglers. The triad is based on an equilateral triangle in an ideal world. In reality, every angler’s triangle becomes unique with different shapes. The three sides encompass strategy, line control, and tactics. These lead to other triads that build off of the original, just like a live oak tree with multiple branches that stem from three main branches. The main tree trunk would encompass all things fly fishing.
All of them are equally important and will take dedication to the application for all practical purposes. If we look at these attributes of the triad as a whole then you are well on your way to mastery as a fly fisher. Many studies in the industry state that over 60% of fly fisher fish less than a few days annually. This group would really benefit from having a mentor that lays down a triad path for their journey because it is a fabulous sport.
The strategy will take the most work to develop if you learn it from the school of hard knocks. Each visit to the stream offers many valuable lessons if you pay attention to the details. Minuscule details often provide the clues you need for success. Your strategy also influences how you choose to fish the water you are presented at the moment. Do you camp out on the honey hole and never leave? Do you rest it wisely? This list can get long in a hurry.
Fly fishers with some age on them tend to have the best strategies. They apply their past experiences of knowledge because they have more of it. The triad of strategy is made up of knowledge, wisdom, and intent. These also have other triads that build on these three. JW Barlament and Zat Rana have done a great job explaining the differences in their blog. The intention to cover water lane by lane, layer by layer, and grid pattern. Your strategies are honed the quickest by going to school on other’s failures and successes.
Knowledge is the collection of skills and information a person has acquired through experience. Many cultures think of it as you immersed in nature as a part of it which becomes another sense. Intelligence is the ability to apply knowledge. Wisdom is a lifelong pursuit that exhibits an ability to intuitively understand the natural order of things.
Line control is another side of the triad which is the kinesthetic act of repositioning your fly to achieve a specific intent. Many refer to this as a presentation. All aerial or waterborne mends, as well as all fly casts, are included. It is actually one of the quickest things to improve with the help of a good coach.
It is best to seek out a good coach at the beginning of your journey. Much greater value dollar for dollar because it gets you started off on the correct practice. Many watch YouTube or other places on the internet for attempting to learn line control. The direct feedback of an auditory coach cannot be replaced or replicated with free online classes. In Daniel Coyle’s book The Talent Code, he addresses how we all develop skills and the use of myelin. When we repeat a task that has an inherent fault, it becomes part of our style. It is much easier to prevent it from the start with proper fundamentals.
The triad of line control is pause, power, and path. These three explain everything in mending, casting, and enhancements to your drift. There are dozens of articles on casting and definitions under my categories menu on the right side of this site.
Tactics include the subtle techniques that anglers do when achieving presentation. Examples when fishing includes things such as dead drift, ascension or descension of patterns, jigging, swinging, retrieval rates, and many others. These subtleties empower the angler to be proactive in their approach with purpose.
The triad of tactics includes active, passive, and erratic. Active includes movement with a purpose. Passive equates to dead drift matching the speed of the water. Erratic implies an unpredictable approach to presenting the fly. Oftentimes these are all implemented during the same drift. If there are unfamiliar terms be sure to check out the definitions page.
The Triad in Application
This parsimonious approach to discussing your approach in solving problems on the stream will usually have overlapping ingredients. For example, the strategy to cover the water in a grid pattern layer by layer to figure out the depth fish are feeding. This requires various levels of tuck casting which falls into line control. What you perform during the drift falls into the category of tactics implementing a dead drift followed by a lift. This once again falls into line control. It becomes a perpetual application of all three in a flow-like state.
The implementation of the triad has been an integral part of our week-long fly fishing guide schools, classes, clinics, guide trips, college classes, and private instruction for the past 35 years. It empowers the student with knowledge for them to reflect and critique their approach on a daily basis for their journey as a fly fisher.