PAT NEAL’S WILDLIFE COLUMN: Different way to see red while fly fishing

FISHING HAS ALWAYS been a metaphor for life.

In fishing and in life, you must have a vision of your goal. We cast our offering with a force of will into a hidden world hoping to be rewarded.

Success involves timing, skill and luck.

With timing and skill you can make your own luck.

Bad luck can take your eye off the goal and cause you to blindly pound the same dead water with the same dud gear while hoping something will eventually happen.

Albert Einstein said repeating the same failed experiment while hoping for a different outcome was insanity.

I call it fly fishing.

As a fishing guide, I have experienced that fly fishermen can be the toughest to hook up.

When guiding fly fishermen, I insist they use barbless hooks. It makes for less bleeding when they snag the guide.

Fly fishermen often suffer from performance anxiety. It forces them to wade too far, cast too far and spend way too much money on gear, with predictable results.

They go over their waders. Their line piles up in a tangle around their head. The fish are spooked by too much line ripping across the surface of the water.

This can take the enjoyment out of fly fishing.

If your goal is to enjoy fly fishing, I’ve got a book for you.

I just read The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing (Skyhorse Publishing, 2010) by Charlie Meyers and Kirk Deeter.

They copied the template of Harvey Penick’s hugely successful Little Red Book of Golf and opened up their notebooks to reveal an encyclopedic knowledge of fly fishing.

This Little Red Book is told in a language fishermen can understand.

For example, ever had a sore back after a day’s fishing? That can be the result of poor posture.

The LRB says that foot railings placed in bars allow patrons to stand for long periods of time by getting one leg up a little higher than the other.

That might explain why a lot of folks do their fishing in the bar.

The LRB says it means you should fish with a rock under one foot.

Let’s say you were in that bar and you wanted to throw a glass of beer at someone. You would accelerate as you aim, then stop to let the beer fly.

This is about how tough it is to cast a fly, unless you’re a guy.

Fly fishing is a sexist sport. Ask any guide.

If a man and a woman are fishing together on a guided trip, the woman will catch more fish. There are many reasons for this.

Women are patient. They are not competitive. Women listen to instructions, unless they come from their significant other.

There is no faster way to reveal an infinite chasm of misunderstanding in a relationship than to let a man try to teach his wife or girlfriend how to fly fish.

The LRB states that you can learn the hard way or let a professional handle it.

That’s what guides are for.

As professionals, fishing guides are routinely forced to become relationship counselors just to keep the The Bickersons from ripping each other’s face off — long enough to catch a fish.

I have a secret technique for this. The LRB specifically warns about guides who claim to have secret techniques.

The LRB also deals with the prejudice against outdoor writers because they kiss and tell. For this the authors are unapologetic.

Outdoor writers pass knowledge to the next generation to preserve fish in the future.

That is the goal.


Pat Neal is a North Olympic Peninsula fishing guide and humorist whose column appears Wednesdays.

Pat can be reached at 360-683-9867 or

Information about The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing is at

More in News

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe council leaders celebrate the opening of the tribe’s new library at its Blyn campus on Saturday. Pictured, from left, are treasurer Theresa Lehman, vice chair Loni Grinnell-Greninger, chair/CEO Ron Allen and secretary Rochelle Blankenship. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe celebrates library opening

Chairman/CEO: New facility is ‘second to none’

Solar array, battery storage to be installed on Port Angeles Senior Center

System could provide hours of backup power in case of an outage

UPDATE: Power restored between Sequim, Port Angeles

A tree has been removed from a Clallam County PUD… Continue reading

Road work to close Quinault Loop

Work crews from Haztech Drilling will begin geotechnical drilling… Continue reading

Fiber gathering Thursday at Studio Bob

Marva Holmes will host “St*tch & B*tch” at 4:30… Continue reading

Dream Playground to be fully covered by insurance

Donations still will be used in May rebuild

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual Shipwrights Regatta on Port Townsend Bay on Saturday. More of a fun event than a sailing competition, awards are given out during a pizza party afterward for the most navigationally challenged (Directional Helmet trophy) and for the “saltiest” boat and crew. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Shipwrights Regatta

About 30 sailboats compete in the Port Townsend Sailing Association’s 33rd annual… Continue reading

The City of Sequim hosts 13 manufactured home/mobile home parks with 596 existing units and 786 approved dwelling units. City staff continue to look into zoning options that could protect these sites from redevelopment to help protect affordable housing options in the city. (City of Sequim)
Sequim extends its mobile home moratorium

City staff to work preserving manufactured housing option

Olympic Medical Center chief outlines efforts at improvements

Decreased number of travelers among them

Jay and Trudi Inslee wear red for #WearRedDay to support women’s heart health in 2022. (Jay Inslee)
Gov. Inslee reflects in his final year of three terms

On the second level of the white and gray marbled… Continue reading

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer as coworker Robert Bufford prepares to secure the load as the pair prepares to open the parking lot at Port Angeles City Pier to automobiles on Friday. The work was part of a project to improve storm drainage, replace damaged sidewalks and ADA ramps and mitigate shoreline erosion around the lot, which had been closed since early January. Tree replacement and other project detail work is expected to follow over the next few weeks.
City Pier parking open

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer… Continue reading

Sequim Citizen of the Year luncheon on Tuesday

Emiko Brock, Labbe, Olsen to be honored