Bill Luscombe has been hunting and fishing
for most of his 42 years. He has been flyfishing for
20 years. He instructs flyfishing, and has done so for
the past 12 years. He also instructs the federal FSET
firearms course and the BC CORE hunter training course.
He is an award-winning outdoor writer and has been writing
freelance since 1987. He has been published in BC Sport
Fishing Magazine, Outdoor Edge, BC Outdoors, Western
Sportsman, Island Fish Finder, and the BC Hunting Guide.
Bill Luscombe was born an army brat and raised in Ladner
(Delta, BC) where he was raised hunting waterfowl and
pheasants. He presently resides in North Cowichan on
southern Vancouver Island where he has lived and worked
full time as a professional forester since 1982.
He presently works in Nanaimo for the BC Forest Service and
continue to write the fly-fishing column for BC Sport Fishing
Magazine as well as contributing articles freelance to various
outdoor magazines in western Canada. Bill Luscombe is also
a BC Director of the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association.
"Catching fish is not hard. You simply need to understand
what makes them tick. If you think like a fish, you will catch
fish. Its as simple as that."- Bill Luscombe
October brings the cooling effects of autumn and the fish
in most waters should again be active. Unfortunately, fall
does not bring with it many insect hatches and most of us
have to chuck and chance it with patterns that imitate year
round food sources, or attractors.
Fish, contrary to what some fishers (liars . . . all of us)
would have you believe, are generally very dumb creatures.
They rely entirely on instinct for survival, often feeding
on a whim, especially during periods of low food variety.
It is always a good idea to carry several different attractor
patterns specifically for this situation, but especially during
the latter part of the season. Although the scud
imitations are the bread and butter patterns for fly fishers
at this time of year, attractor patterns can often produce
better in certain circumstances.
In the low light conditions of a cloudy fall day, I often
try different attractors that contain silver tinsel. The bit
of silver seems to add that little something that catches
the fish's attention and often induces strikes where the staple
patterns fail. Nation's Silvertip and, of course, the Doc
Spratley, are two of my favourites.
On bright sunny days I try a Royal Coachman (wet), a red
or patterns that incorporate bronze peacock herl such as the
or fullback. Bright coloured patterns (especially red) can
often produce fish on a sunny day, especially in the fall
when the insect populations are down. Peacock herl catches
the light and looks much like the bronze/black carapaces of
Why do the gaudy attractors work when they don't imitate
anything that a fish usually eats? The key is in combining
many attributes of the fish's normal food into one pattern.
Let's look at the classic Doc Spratley as an example. The
body is relatively fat and black, which many aquatic insects
such as dragonfly nymphs have. In small sizes, the beard resembles
the gills of a chironomid and in larger sizes the beard resembles
legs or swimmerettes. The swept back wing imitates the shellback
of assorted insect nymphs or can also be mistaken for the
underdeveloped wings of other nymphs or pupae. Thus we end
up with a fly that does not look like anything in nature,
but to a hungry trout, it can represent a wide array of potentially
Although scud and leech patterns are the staples of fall
fly-fishing and will usually outperform all other patterns
combined, every so often you will find a situation where they
do not work. In those cases you should switch to attractor
patterns rather than slogging it out with your "old reliable"
leech. A change of colour, a flash of silver or gold, or a
major change to something outlandish, may be all it takes
to trigger a positive response; it all depends on the trout's
state of mind. But one thing is for sure, every so often you
have to go against what seems right and do something wild
and different. Ultimately it can mean the difference between
a mediocre day of fall fishing and a successful one.
See you on the water, and bring along some bright, ugly flies,
we'll fish 'em together and fool a few silver torpedoes.
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