Imagine if you will: A calm morning on the banks of the Dream Stream, the only thing between you and a nice rising brown is millions of the real living competitors drifting the same feeding lane as your artificial. The fish begins feeding in a consistent cycle, taking only enough time to swallow the mouthful of dead mayflies before resetting her intentions on getting more -and for the next couple of hours there will be more, a lot more.
You gently pick off one of the hundred or so carcases on your waders and set it on the lid of your fly box. Your size 20 imitation (that you swore caught fish years before) strangely looks like some sort of aberration compared to the deceased. #22 no, # 24...now we're getting close, but there is no denying the #26 you tied "just in case" is just right. You carefully tie it to the end of your 7x tippet, extend a little line out of the tip of your favorite 3 weight and then just sit, wait and watch. The fish rises again, you notice some companions have decided to join the buffet line a little further downstream, they're not as big, you refocus to the spot where the LARGE head appeared, still feeding -all is well. Believing you have her timing down, you decide to cast short of her to see if your anticipated lead is correct. Two practice shots and you decide its time to come out of the bullpen in earnest, this one's for all the marbles, you've played it out a dozen times the past 20 minutes, there's no chance for failure.
You pull out another 10 feet of line and begin false casting -once, twice, time to lay it down. Purposely stopping the forward cast a little early the leader stacks up in a series of lazy bends a few feet upstream of a fish that has already grown a couple of inches in the short time you've known her. You hold back the fly line for just a half a second: this hesitation allows the leader to straighten out just slightly, now the fly is leading the rest of the assembly towards the target. You've lost track of your bug, but no matter- you KNOW where they fly is. The large head slowly, purposely lifts up out through the surface film. Experience has taught you to wait until she closes her mouth and begins to descend before getting tight on the hook-set. Suddenly the music is interrupted as the large fish spins around aware of your intentions, she has felt the leader, she missed your fly. The fish below her you snubbed just 10 minutes ago are also aware and leave the pool an ugly shade of flat calm -minus the diminishing wake left by a fishes version of the middle finger.
You reel up the slack line, take a deep breath and smile, as experience has also taught you another beautiful fish is sipping around the next bend.