You cast a hopper fly at a rising trout tucked against the cutbank… the fish follows your fly, and rejects it at the very last instant… what do you do?

The answer to this pop quiz question is D, switch flies.

Let’s break down why that’s the best answer…

Option A. Sit on the bank and cry. Nah, haven’t cried since my Snoopy rod broke.

Option B. Cast again, this time tighter to the bank. Nah, there’s no reason to believe the fish will like the fly any more in a different line, if it clearly saw it, followed it, and refused it the last time around. The number one instinct is to re-cast right away (oh, I need a better cast), and that’s probably the worst thing you can do.

Option C. Wait five minutes and cast again. Well, yeah, but during those five minutes if you switch flies to another terrestrial… all the better.

Option D. Yes. Switch flies. Guide Bob Lamm proved this lesson to me many years ago on the Railroad Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork. The switching of flies is particularly important when you are fishing hoppers. If you get refused on a mayfly hatch, size down on the same pattern (or go to a cripple). On the hopper bite… purely opportunistic feeding… assume it’s a one-shot deal. Three casts with the wrong bug at the right fish will put that fish down and shut off your opportunity.

Option E. Size down on your tippet. Puh-leeze. You’re throwing a #10 Club Sandwich and you think the difference was 5X vs 6X? No way.

Option F. Move upstream, make downstream presentation. A solid option number 2.

Option G. Move on and find another fish. What, are you nuts? After one cast? After a few casts with a few flies, then move.

Two more updates: I went elkless for 2009 archery season; and TOMORROW Tim and I float the Colorado River with Joe Cermele from the Honest Angler blog. Do you think there’s any way he’ll HONESTLY not get bounced out of the raft?