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The Truth About Fly Fishing:
Guiding and Instruction
Eugene Macri

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© 2011 E. P. Macri Jr.

I really wish I didn't have to write this page but there comes a time when perhaps theThe Caddis Fly Hydropsyche fly fishing industry should have a code of conduct but don't hold your breath.  I've been fly fishing too long to allow what is now happening in this beloved art to let this slide any longer. This is mainly about the limestone spring creeks of Pennsylvania but it has a much longer reach into the rest of the fly fishing country (photo to the left shows the caddis larva, Hydropsyche which inhabits most of these streams in great numbers).

I get phone calls and emails from fly anglers asking what is really going on because of the different information or disinformation they are receiving from websites and so called guiding services about these streams.  The strange thing about it is that I'm the guy that has done all the scientific research on these streams yet these so called "experts" have a different take on what these streams are like and what is actually going on in them.  This includes the fishery and what is going on with the hatches.

What's even worst is that they are quoting the works of Fox and Marinaro like theseBaetis Male Spinner Blue Winged Olive books were written yesterday.  Perhaps they can fool most of the uninitiated in the fly fishing world (Photo to the left shows the Blue Winged Olive, Baetis tricaudatus Dodds; it is one of the most important mayflies on these streams). You only need to look at the photo essays on this website and you should immediately be able to tell whose is giving you the story of your life.  I fished with Charlie Fox, Tommy Thomas, Gene Utech, Jack Hunter and many other legendary limestone anglers because I grew up here (or got least middle age) for over the last 30 years. Here's what you need to know in order to make a quality decision on hiring or fishing these streams.  You should notice I didn't just say hire me cause I'll make your dreams come true because here's the truth, like it or not:

  • Charlie Fox quit fishing the Letort his last 15 or so years of fishing because the trout quit rising! I should know because I wrote Reflections with Charlie Fox.  In fact, Charlie liked to fish on the top so much that he made wooden plugs to fish for muskies.  Yes, Charlie was an excellent bait caster and wrote a book on it.
  • All of these streams (with probably the exception of Big Spring) are worst off than they were 30 years ago.
  • The hatches have declined on just about everyone of them.
  • The streams do not lend themselves to standard approaches with the exception of the Yellow Breeches which is stocked to the gills with fish.
  • When they quote Fox, or Marinaro or tell you of these monstrous trout that rise you should know immediately that you are being taken for a ride!
  • When they tell you such things as the great Trico hatch on Falling Spring you are sucker if you believe it.  The upper portion of Falling Spring had at one time the greatest Trico hatch but there is almost nothing left of it.  When they tell you that 20 tricos in the air is hatch don't buy it.  The fish don't usually rise to such limited stimuli.  There used to be blizzards of Tricos on Falling Spring.  They are no more.  The best amount of limited action is near the town of Chambersburg and even these emergences are paltry by what I use to fish.
  • When they tell you there aren't any fish in Big Spring don't believe it.  What they should be saying is that they can't catch the fish in Big Spring.  If you want all the data on Big Spring you are welcomed to it.  Just go to this website:   Here you will find the truth and just how many fish are in this stream and the snow job by the PFBC.

The truth of matter is that these fish are harder to catch than when Fox and Marinaro wrote their books.  Why?  Because the fish are so spooky and wary because the hatches have diminished that the fish are almost unapproachable in their feeding lies. Do these streams still furnish good fly fishing?  Absolutely, but the fishing is not easy and you must hunt your fish on most streams and every shortcoming you have as a fly fisherman will be exposed on these streams,

Also, because the bright days and less cloud cover it's almost impossible to get near some of these fish.  Furthermore, the size of the fish in the Letort and other streams has diminished.  There are a few large fish but not the monsters like the days of Fox, Marinaro and others.

The truth is that most fly anglers need instruction on these streams and not a guide. Some of the horror studies I've been told about many guides would cause you to probably quit fly fishing. If you want an absolute objective analysis of each stream than you can stop at our sister website: Here, you'll find what you need to know.  If you want more info contact me below.  As always there is no charge for my reply and if you are interested in instruction that's fine; if you are not interested it's okay too.  But if you believe what many of these so called "experts" and websites are telling you---you are in for a surprise!


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