Video Review: ‘Adaptive Fly Fishing’ with Lance Egan and Devin Olsen

We’re very happy to welcome back to the team Damon Matus, who had to focus on an important family matter. Great to see you again, Big D!


Devin Olsen, Lance Egan, and Gilbert Rowley recently released their third tutorial film, Adaptive Fly Fishing – Strategies for Diverse Water Types  (trailer). As in their previous films, the latest effort features superb quality footage that equally matches instruction with entertainment.

Their original film, Modern Nymphing, focused on European-nymphing techniques. I considered it invaluable in providing a visual demonstration to accompany the volumes of written instruction available on the subject.  In fact, I considered it so valuable, that when taking a good friend out nymphing for the first time, I had him watch the film on the way to the river, a move which shortened the learning curve considerably.

Adaptive Fly Fishing takes a much more holistic approach, using vignettes or case studies by water-type, similar to those used in Devin Olsen’s book Tactical Fly Fishing.

Inspired by their background as competition anglers, Devin and Lance discuss techniques, from single dry flies to nymphs and streamers, as well as deploying a combination of methods to get the most of out of each water-type and situational variable.

A variation of Devin Olsen’s Front End Loader Caddis. Adaptive strategies that allow you to transition quickly from dries to nymphs help get the most out of a stretch of river, especially when crowds limit the ability to move around and cherry-pick water.

The case studies demonstrate the versatility of European-inspired leaders and while it’s not a dedicated nymphing tutorial, it provides great examples of how variations of the long “Euro” leader can adapt to a wide array of situations and water types.

I’ve made this sort of adaptability my personal goal for development as an angler for a variety of reasons: it keeps the sport interesting by raising the bar, opens the door to opportunities for more and better fish, and helps make the most out of a stretch of water.

My home river is highly pressured and, lately, I don’t have the luxury of unlimited time on the water. Therefore, getting the most out of a few hours of fishing, defined in terms of catch quality or lessons learned, becomes my paramount goal.

To that end, I found the film to be an insightful motivation to cover water more thoroughly and effectively with several noteworthy take-aways that I’ve applied successfully over the last few months.

Point of View
Micro-thin Euro leader formulas continue to evolve, and Devin Olsen provides an example. Inspired by his use of neon wax in the film, I now use it on occasion in order to paint a temporary sighter on my tippet, or to highlight my indicator in difficult lighting.

I’ll share a few for perspective:

  • Additional insights and examples for the micro-thin European nymphing leader (some leader formulae here). I’ve been experimenting with these in an overall effort to fish lighter nymphs.
  • Systematic and calculated approaches to covering water and targeting active fish higher in the column before dropping down deep.
  • A dry-fly leader formula.

I think it’s safe to say the film has something to offer anglers of all skill levels. For the inexperienced, the case studies can help identify and understand water types, while experienced anglers will likely pick up something to help them refine or rethink their approach and in turn, as the title suggests, be more adaptive. 

Tight lines to all!

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