Book Review: What Trout Want: The Educated Trout and Other Myths

     What Trout Want, by Bob Wyatt, is a long-overdue tome, taking to task many long-cherished notions about trout fishing. Wyatt doesn’t tiptoe around his complaint with fly fishing theory: the idea of trout selectivity is wrong. Trout simply do not have the mental faculties to scrutinize and remember every potential food item that comes floating down stream. Even if they could remember, given the shear volume of different patterns and all the eccentricities of individual fly tyer’s methods and skill levels, it is just not possible that a trout can decide whether or not a silhoutte on the water is or is not an “appropriate” looking imitation.
     He challenges at least a century’s worth of fishing convention by laying out clear evidence that trout  are governed by instinct, not reason. Wyatt has fished Scotland, New Zealand, and western Canada as well as the United States and cites numerous examples of catching trout on rough, basic, decidedly unrealistic flies. Using this as a foundation, he builds on the need for more impressionistic fly design and better presentation as the cornerstones of successful fly fishing.
     I have noticed often in my own angling experience that fish will take a fly that, according to us, is a poor imitation. A classic example is a dry fly that is mangled, or a streamer that bears no resemblance to any natural food. Wyatt explains why this is: trout don’t have the luxury of only eating food they recognize as such. They have evolved to react to anything that looks like it should be food.
     What Trout Want is an excellent book for those looking to expand their angling horizons. It can be purchased at Northshire Bookstore

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