The Phenological Fly Book Review - Flyfishing
Book Author: Bob Scammel
I enjoy fly fishing. There is, as any fly fisher will tell you, an unexplainable joy in experiencing the hit of a fish, whether it is a trout, bass, mooneye, or any other specie, and successfully landing it on fly rod and tackle.
The problem with fly fishing is this thing that veteran anglers call, "matching the hatch." Apparently, to be a successful and authentic fly angler, one must also be able to pass, with extremely high grades, a course on entomology, and be skilled in duplicating the appearance of some bug, on a tiny hook using bits of feather and fur.
I can identify a firefly. I have absolutely no problem in observing that unmistakable green flash from the rear end of a bug and announcing confidently to any who want to know, "I just saw a firefly!!" Ask me, however, to look at other winged things or their pre-winged children, and a definite look of blankness will appear on my face.
'The Phenelogical Fly,' by Bob Scammell may be an answer if you have the similar ignorance of entomology as I do, and ignored all your biology classes, yet still enjoy fly fishing. In fact, this book will be helpful to anyone, entomologist or not, who truly wishes to make their best attempts at matching hatches and predicting when particular species of insects will be hatching on their favorite fishing waters.
Phenology, according to Mr. Scammell, is the "science of appearances," and the author outlines his observations and discoveries in relation to accurately predicting super hatches of insects, while noting other simultaneous appearances, specifically, the appearance of particular blooming wild flowers. This of course makes sense when we realize that both the blooming of wild flowers and insect appearance are dependent on exactly the same thing - natural conditions, especially temperature and hours of light and darkness.
If one is able to connect the blooming of a particular species of flower to the hatching of a specific species of insect, then rather than relying only on approximate dates in hatch charts or word of mouth, the angler should be able to predict and know exactly what is hatching.
This of course means for me that all I now have to do is match my imitation flies to whatever species of wild flower happens to be in bloom at any given time. I need not know that 'Echemerella inermis' is the scientific name for a pale morning dun. I just have to know that a good fly to use could be a Light Cahill when Canada Anemones are blooming.
The author does provide a very interesting perspective, and although his observations are specific to mostly Alberta, Canada, it does provide a good basis for any angler's personal research in his/her quest to "match the hatch." As well as being very well written, providing some interesting and humorous stories alongside the observations, as well as tips on flies and tying, the book contains beautiful photographs taken by the Scammell, of wild flowers and insects. This book will certainly be an asset to any angler, pro or novice wishing to improve their catches.
Now I suppose, all I have to do is learn to identify all those beautiful wild flowers I admire so much, while on the stream!