If your one of the flycasters that has trouble getting his share of the fish, perhaps you are not keeping yourself and your gear clean enough. When using nymphs and streamers smell is part of the equation that either attracts or repels a fish. I had this demonstrated to me in a situation that left no doubt in my mind as to the value of cleaning my hands and equipment before casting to fish.

We were shad fishing and normally I had been able to catch more per hour than any of my fishing partners, but on this particular day I couldn't catch even one shad, while my partners were hauling them in (and were they enjoying my frustration? - YOU BET!). By lunch time I still hadn't caught one, oh, I had a couple of taps but that was all. We were sitting there eating our lunch and I was taking some good natured ribbing from my partners about my "skill" in catching shad that day when all of a sudden it hit me - I had forgotten to clean my hands after handling the fuel tank for the outboard motor!

With this knowledge I decided to get even (I hoped) so I made a "friendly" bet that on my next cast I would catch a shad. Of course, I was almost laughed out of the boat and the bet was eagerly accepted. Before casting I used a bar of "fisherman’s soap" to clean my hands, rod grip, leader and fly. Crossing my fingers I cast down and across, allowed a short drift and then snubbed the line to produce a cross current swing. Mid way through the swing there was a heavy tug on the line and I was fighting what turned out to be the largest shad of the day (over 5#). After that I began catching fish at a normal rate and my "buddies" shut up.

No matter how skilled you my be as a fly caster, you will catch more fish if you make a point of keeping your hands, rod grip, leader and fly clean. Just before beginning to fish stop, get out the soap, and clean everything (dry flies excepted). If you handle food, a fuel tank, operate an outboard motor, or get any other contaminant (such as sunscreen or bug dope) on your hands or equipment take the time to clean it off before continuing your casting.

You may find that you are a much better "fisherman" than you thought.

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