Merwin: All The Trimmings

Here’s a fishing-knot lesson that I got first-hand from the late Lee Wulff. At least I think it was a … Continued

Here’s a fishing-knot lesson that I got first-hand from the late Lee Wulff. At least I think it was a lesson. I say that because I’m still not sure I agree with it. I’ll explain just what it was, then you can tell me what you think. ‘

Wulff and I became pretty good friends in his later years, talking often about all sorts of things, visiting one another’s homes, and even fishing once in a while. In his 80’s, he was having trouble with his ankles–arthritis, I think–and river-wading for any extended period was painful. So when one afternoon we went down to fish the Beaverkill together, he found a large, comfortable rock where a riffle splashed into a pool and sat down to fish.

As I sat next to him, he tied a small, nondescript nymph to the end of his leader. I reached over toward the tag end of the leader that was sticking out beyond the knot. ‘Here,” I said, ‘Let me trim that for you.”

“Don’t bother,” he said, smiling. “The fish don’t care about the leader going into the eye of the fly. Why should they care if it comes out the other side?”

I went downstream. He stayed on his rock for an hour or so. When I came back, he asked how many I’d caught.

‘None,” I said. “You?”

“Three,” he answered with an even bigger smile. Then I helped him get back to the car.