On the Spot: "The Bug Guy" Robert Younghanz

Since we first introduced you to Robert "The Bug Guy" Younghanz last April, he's been a busy man--hatching a cool new DVD set, spreading his wings on the speaking circuit, taking flight with new articles and tips (Okay, I'll leave the hokey insect references out now).

I have always thought that fly fishing could be broken into basic areas of understanding--how to cast, how to read the water (to know where to cast), and how to present your flies (so they act right after you put them in the spot). Of course, none of that stuff matters unless you know what fly to put on in the first place! Yet despite that, I would also say that the entomology (understanding bugs) part of fly fishing is the average angler's weakest suit.

I know lots of folks who can cast like a champ, and can't tell a baetis from a mosquito. I have a basic idea what's on the menu most of the time, but I realize I have tons to learn on bugs, especially after fishing with this guy. (Robert, the master entomologist, is also a master angler. Not a coincidence.)

If you have bug questions, go ahead and ask them in the comment thread, and we'll pick a few, twist Robert's arm, and get him to answer them. Failing that, you might want to pick up Robert's instructional DVD. For $30 (two discs) you can go from rank novice to enlightened when it comes to understanding bugs and fly fishing.

As a teaser, I put Robert "On the Spot" with five brief questions:

FlyTalk: You get one dry fly, and one dry fly only to fish anywhere in the country (for trout). What is it?

Robert: A Parachute Adams, in either a size 16 or 18. And that's a pretty easy choice, because it covers all the orders.

FlyTalk: Okay, you get one nymph fly. Which one?

Robert: A size 18 or 20 Flashback Pheasant Tail nymph. That's another solid, all-rounder.

FlyTalk: What's the one pattern that you, as an entomologist who studies and understands bugs, have absolutely no idea how or why it works, but it does?

Robert: Pat's Rubber Legs. Or maybe a hot pink San Juan Worm.

FlyTalk: What's the one fly pattern you wish you had created yourself?

Robert: The Beadhead Prince nymph.

FlyTalk: How do you not drive yourself insane trying to match the hatch? Cant' too much knowledge be a bad thing?

Robert: I carry thousands of different flies when I fish, but I'd say 90 percent of my fishing is done with 10-15 different fly patterns. The key is tuning into what the prevalent order of the day is. Is it a mayfly day? A caddis day? If you take the time to be a good observer before you wet a line, understanding what flies to use is not that complicated.