My favorite piece to this whole fly fishing thing is, the take. The take is the sudden jolt that stops your heart momentarily when a fish eats the fly. That feeling is burned into my hands, eyes, and brain. It's often the highlight moment of my outings.
I can still watch the first 20" rainbow slowly sip my size 18 Parachute Adams off the surface on my 3 weight glass rod. I remember my first brook trout leap completely out of the water and came crashing down on my little foam beetle.
Not to mention, tightline nymphing and the consistent electric thumps of fish. For example, last week I was drifting a big stonefly on the edge of a big shelf. The fly drifted through the deep pool then my line went tight. I felt the jarring smash of a fish that sent a pulse all the way to my shoulder. I fought the fish to the net and landed the chunky 17" rainbow.
There's more than dries and nymphs though. You have the fast-paced, electric grabs of saltwater fish that slam Clouser Minnows. That will always leave a memory. Then there's heaving streamers at the bank and stripped them back when all of a sudden you feel tension and a sudden jolt of energy. Lastly, the always pleasant tug when a fish bumps a classy fly on a two-hand rod.
Bottom line is, the take is where it's at for me.
I've heard of an angler who would cut the hook point off of his flies because he only cared about the take. To him landing the fish didn't matter - it was all about the take. I scoffed at the foolish idea, and laughed saying I would never get to that point. However, the more I fish the more I enjoy just feeling the initial hit. Now, I understand a little more where that older angler was coming from.
I'm still not at that point though...
A fish taking a fly only lasts a moment nevertheless, it burns a memory that lasts a lifetime (so I'm told). I'm sure the people who tell us to appreciate the little things don't necessarily mean a fish inhaling a fly, but it's hard not to appreciate it when it's this fun.