Ode to the Hornberg, Deux

Posted on May 16, 2019

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Title is a nod to Bob Triggs’s missive of the same title, which I’ve never been able to find a copy of. This is from a year ago, cleaning up my draft folder as the blog anniversary is coming on. And yes, I bought every fly in that box.

Just last week, we went on an interesting adventure. My friend Amber, who is just learning to fish, myself, and our friend John, an advanced and inveterate fisherman who goes to all the right places with all of the right gear, hit a local river we’d all been exploring. He put us on a run and proceed to work downstream with a beautiful trout spey set up I had a hard time not casting clear across the river.

Amber and I worked a pool which had numerous small fish rising. I thought this would be a good place to teach her how to drift a dry fly and mend, and she dutifully would cast to a fish for 45 minutes until she got it. Then I set her up with a hopper dropper (the anti-nymph snob’s nymphing set up), and finally some sub-surface flies. I would go upstream of her and test-fish each of these methods until I found willing participants and then come set her up.

By the end of the night, though, I was fishing the one fly I always fish in none-white water: the vastly unsung Hornberg, which if you don’t fish brookie’s in New England, you may never have heard of. And I was pretty much hooking up every other cast or so. John came up and said “I can’t believe it, you really do fish that fly. I thought you were just being eccentric.” When I reeled in my next fish, he allowed that it was the biggest fish he’d seen landed on this river. Amber showed up and demanded why I hadn’t just set her up with a Hornberg from the start. I shrugged, just because it works for me, I said, doesn’t mean it would work for you, maybe you are a better fisherperson than I and I could learn from you.

You might be pleased to learn, the magic of the Hornberg was indeed transferable and she did finish the day with a few fish.

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