The Seamless Drift

“I’ve seen good drifts; I’ve seen not so good drifts; and I’ve seen great drifts.” – my good friend John S. on the art of presentation.

Seamless – smooth and continuous, with no apparent gaps or spaces between one part and the next.

Ask a great fly fisherman what makes the difference between catching some fish and catching many fish, and they will all tell you: the drift. On a brook trout stream high in the Appalachians my friend John schooled me on this. He outfished me two to one on a day when the fish were eager and the hatches plenty. It was all about the drift.

fly: Purple Perdigon

Learning to read a trout stream is paramount in fly fishing, and it is a continuous education. First we learn to recognize structure, current, eddies, and depth. Then we start to notice subtle seams between flows, bubbles, and rocks on the bottom just big enough for a trout to nuzzle in front of to break the current. To see any of this we have to slow down and look closely for the details.

fly: Yellow Sally

Then, once the details are recognized, the agenda turns to presentation. Precise, deliberate, subtle, and natural presentation of the fly which culminates in a perfect, seamless drift.

The seamless drift follows the currents effortlessly, showing no signs of drag. For the trout below, this means more than choice of fly… this is the difference between reality and deception. I watched closely as my friend gave a clinic on how to do this perfectly – even when casting directly upstream. It was poetry, and the brookies loved every verse.

The student… seeking perfection in a trout stream.

All in, between the two of us and my son, we think we landed fifty… that’s not a bad day. No large fish, but lots of willing participants.

In fly fishing – as in life, it is often the most simple and subtle of things which elude us – and these details are the difference between frustration and satisfaction…between existing and truly living. The art of slowing down, recognizing the details, being deliberate with our choices, planning our approach, and delicately inserting ourselves into the world around us…can yield for us the seamless drift……where all things flow in perfect rhythm, with no gaps or spaces between one part and the next.

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