Fly Editor

Roosterfish, Nematisius pectoralis

by Scott Sadil

It’s one of those days you return to your room not bummed but frustrated, certain you could have brought a few more roosters to hand if only—what?

You dig through your flies:  Why didn’t I try this one? Or that? Or . . . .

Or maybe I’ve got too many flies.

It happens to the best of us.  It’s as if we believe, beyond reason, that we need to be prepared for some fabulous occasion, the likes of which hasn’t occurred since an earlier, remote, geological era.

Brittani Gassner and roosterfish

Or we’re going to encounter schools of fish, bigger than any in recorded history, that proceed to decimate our supplies, stealing fly after fly, to the point that we’re forced to bring out those simple bucktail minnows, rust on the hooks and all, you first tied way back when.

But I need to be ready! you wail.

That should work

For what?  Suddenly some of the roosters decide to go vegan?  Cut out whatever’s causing their acid reflux?

Atop the bed I spread out my quart-sized Ziploc freezer bags, pulled from a sophisticated boat box that costs more than my first saltwater rod and reel combined.  For this trip I’ve already removed most of the interchangeable foam panels, so that I could cram in as many baggies full of flies as possible. No wonder I didn’t find a couple of those patterns that might have worked. I’m not sure I even found the baggie with the flies I tied the week before leaving home and heading south.

Sheesh: Where’s the editor when I need one?

Shep and rooster

A quick inventory suggests that three entire baggies of flies can go onto the other bed, where rod socks and reel bags and excess paraphernalia are scattered about like clothing before a rush of unexpected intimacies.  Then, rather than considering what I don’t need, I begin to fill just one baggie with flies I’m absolutely sure I wouldn’t hesitate to tie on the end of my tippet—flies I’m certain should, at least, work.

What’s that Elmore Leonard said about writing?  “Leave out the parts that readers skip.”

How about this: “Leave out the flies you know you’re not going to fish.”

Even then, I can barely press closed the second baggie—one with tan sardinas, the other with olive—before I concede I still have a long way to go until I reach that point, in my dreams, when I paw through my flies before leaving for the water and pull out but three or four, or maybe six, confident I have what I need.


A very long way to go.  But when Shep and I get into the roosters that morning, banging them left and right, never once asking the other what he is using, I think I might be onto something.  Twenty by lunch—and the only fly change needed was after starting to clear the line off the deck, another rooster on a blistering run, only to have the line leap up and tangle around my fingers.

Little trouble, this time, deciding what to tie onto my tippet, now fluttering in the breeze.

Gray’s angling editor Scott Sadil finds it unlikely he’ll ever grow tired casting flies, any flies, for roosterfish.