It is the dim haze of mystery that adds enchantment to pursuit.
Only the madman is absolutely sure.
Robert Anton Wilson
After a particularly unsettling series of casts, I raised my rod, grabbed the fly out of the air and examined it again. It lay still, inanimate in the palm of my hand, betraying nothing more to me than when I'd held it in close regard only moments before. In the distance beyond my focal point noses still broke the surface, the rings appeared and slid downstream, providing a humbling backdrop on which was overlaid the frustrating patina of my failure to find a suitable mechanism with which I might escape this rising sense of anxiety. My eyes followed the tippet back to the knot. Enough length remained for three more ideas, which was no help at all...
Presently, regaining a bit of swagger as I tied on yet another alternative, there, perched regally on my nippers, sat the very object, the very real version of what I had been casting to those noses, which were still dimpling the surface behind me.
I carefully placed it in the palm of my hand next to my imitation, and was immediately gratified by how closely I had come to the color, and size of the natural. As if on cue, the natural moved closer, as if to more closely investigate his artificial cousin, suddenly seemingly so offended as to jump off my hand into the air and away on a puff of wind.
The little drama brought a smile as I began lengthening my cast, and shortly my properly colored, properly sized unnatural rode smartly down the riffle, flanked on either side by several real ones.
The nose that broke the surface at the spot where my properly sized, properly colored artificial had been drifting left a ring, and nothing else. I'm pretty sure that the expanding ring drifted on downstream with the current, but I didn't take time to notice. I was busy.
I had to get my fly back.