May 31, 2023
With all the talk about the new AI machine-learning language-understanding conversation chatbots and art generators, we thought we’d put one of the more well-known iterations to the test on its fly-fishing knowledge. And overall, we feel ChatGPT did a pretty impressive job. That said, some answers are just plumb wrong and based on inaccurate information, and there were some obvious oversights and omissions.
Best flies, hatches, and locations? It did okay with the notable exception of any mention of Alaska or Florida, and that Lake Taupo and Jackson Hole are not towns (Jackson is the town, Jackson Hole is the valley). Then we asked about the best cutthroat trout fisheries in the world, an it included the ambiguous "Westslope Cutthroat Country," Utah's Green River tailwater which hosts very occasional cutts, and Kamchatka, which only has rainbows and steelhead (it even completely concocted a new species called the "East Siberian cutthroat trout").
As for ChatGPT's answers to the more technical and philosophical fly-fishing quandries–you be the judge.
Below is the full list of prompts (headings) along with ChatGPT’s verbatim answers (underneath, in italics).
How do you think ChatGPT did? What did it get right, and what did it mightily miss?
Top 10 Trout Flies of All Time
- Adams: A versatile dry fly that imitates a wide range of mayflies and works well in various water conditions.
- Elk Hair Caddis: A buoyant dry fly that mimics caddisflies, known for its effectiveness during caddis hatches.
- Woolly Bugger: A versatile streamer fly that imitates various aquatic creatures, such as leeches or minnows, and is effective for both trout and other species.
- Pheasant Tail Nymph: An excellent imitation of mayfly nymphs, featuring a slender profile and a body made of pheasant tail fibers.
- Hare's Ear Nymph: Another effective mayfly nymph imitation, featuring a body made of hare's ear dubbing and a soft hackle.
- Griffith's Gnat: A small and simple dry fly that resembles a cluster of tiny midges, effective for imitating midge hatches.
- Royal Wulff: A classic attractor dry fly with a bright body and white calf hair wings, known for its visibility and effectiveness.
- Parachute Adams: A variation of the Adams fly, featuring a parachute-style hackle that enhances visibility and flotation.
- Blue Wing Olive (BWO): A popular mayfly imitation, often used during hatches of Baetis or other blue-winged olive species.
- Stimulator: An attractor dry fly that imitates various stoneflies and terrestrial insects, known for its buoyancy and visibility.
Top 10 Trout-Fishing Rivers in the World
- Madison River (Montana, United States): Known for its incredible population of wild rainbow and brown trout, the Madison River offers excellent angling opportunities.
- Rio Grande (Tierra del Fuego, Argentina): Renowned for its sea-run brown trout, the Rio Grande attracts anglers from around the world seeking trophy-sized fish.
- Whanganui River (North Island, New Zealand): Famous for its brown trout, the Whanganui River is considered one of New Zealand's premier fly fishing destinations.
- Beaverkill River (New York, United States): Considered the birthplace of American dry fly fishing, the Beaverkill River in the Catskills is known for its abundant trout populations.
- Bow River (Alberta, Canada): Offering diverse trout fishing opportunities, including large rainbow and brown trout, the Bow River is considered one of the finest trout rivers in Canada.
- River Test (Hampshire, England): Known for its challenging and technical fishing, the River Test is a classic chalkstream famous for its brown trout.
- Mataura River (South Island, New Zealand): Celebrated for its wild brown trout, the Mataura River is known for its gin-clear waters and technical dry fly fishing.
- Henry's Fork (Idaho, United States): A legendary river with a diverse range of trout species, including rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout, offering both challenging and rewarding angling opportunities.
- San Juan River (New Mexico, United States): Renowned for its prolific trout populations and consistent hatches, the San Juan River is a favorite among fly anglers.
- Battenkill River (Vermont and New York, United States): Offering scenic beauty and a mix of wild and stocked trout, the Battenkill River is a popular destination in the northeastern United States.
- Lee Wulff: A pioneering angler, conservationist, and fly designer who revolutionized fly fishing techniques and invented several iconic patterns.
- Joan Wulff: Renowned as the "First Lady of Fly Fishing," Joan Wulff is a champion caster and instructor who has inspired generations of fly anglers.
- Lefty Kreh: A legendary angler, writer, and casting instructor, Lefty Kreh was highly influential in popularizing saltwater fly fishing and developing innovative casting techniques.
- Joe Humphreys: Known for his expertise in trout fishing, Humphreys is an accomplished angler, educator, and author who has influenced countless fly fishermen.
- Dave Whitlock: A versatile angler, artist, and writer, Whitlock is known for his innovative fly patterns, lifelike fly tying techniques, and expertise in warmwater fly fishing.
- Gary Borger: Recognized as a prolific author, instructor, and angler, Borger has contributed extensively to the knowledge and techniques of fly fishing through his books and videos.
- Flip Pallot: An expert saltwater fly angler and host of the popular television series "The Walker's Cay Chronicles," Pallot has showcased the beauty and challenges of fly fishing in diverse environments.
- John Gierach: A celebrated author and angler, Gierach's insightful and humorous writings have captured the essence of fly fishing, earning him a devoted following.
- Dave Hughes: Known for his extensive writings and expertise in trout fishing, Hughes has shared his knowledge and experiences through numerous books, articles, and instructional materials.
- Stu Apte: A legendary saltwater fly angler, Apte holds multiple world records and is revered for his mastery of big game species like tarpon and bonefish.
Top 10 Trout Fishing Towns/Cities in the World
- West Yellowstone, Montana, United States: Situated near famous rivers such as the Madison, Gallatin, and Yellowstone, West Yellowstone is a popular destination for trout anglers, offering excellent access to both rivers and nearby Yellowstone National Park.
- Taupo, New Zealand: Located on the shores of Lake Taupo, this town is famous for its trout fishing, particularly for trophy-sized rainbow and brown trout. The nearby Tongariro River is renowned for its trout runs.
- Lake Placid, New York, United States: Known for its beautiful lakes and rivers, Lake Placid offers abundant trout fishing opportunities in the Adirondack Mountains, including the Ausable River and its tributaries.
- Banff, Alberta, Canada: Surrounded by the Canadian Rockies, Banff provides access to pristine mountain streams and rivers known for their trout populations, such as the Bow River and its tributaries.
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming, United States: Nestled in the heart of the Teton Range, Jackson Hole offers access to famous trout rivers like the Snake River and the nearby Gros Ventre River.
- Queenstown, New Zealand: Surrounded by breathtaking alpine scenery, Queenstown provides access to numerous rivers and lakes renowned for their trout fishing, including the renowned trout fishery of Lake Wakatipu.
- Aspen, Colorado, United States: Known for its picturesque mountain landscapes, Aspen is home to several productive trout waters, including the Roaring Fork River and the Frying Pan River.
- Lake Taupo, New Zealand: Considered the trout fishing capital of New Zealand, Lake Taupo offers excellent opportunities for both boat and shore fishing, with the chance to catch trophy-sized trout.
- Steamboat Springs, Colorado, United States: Situated in the Yampa Valley, Steamboat Springs offers access to the Yampa River and other nearby waters, known for their trout fishing opportunities.
- Ennis, Montana, United States: Located near the Madison River, Ennis is a renowned trout fishing destination, offering access to some of the most productive stretches of this world-famous trout river.
Top 10 Trout Fishing States in the U.S.
- Montana: Known as the "Big Sky Country," Montana is home to iconic trout rivers like the Madison, Yellowstone, and Gallatin. The state boasts abundant trout populations, including healthy populations of wild rainbow and brown trout.
- Colorado: Colorado offers diverse trout fishing opportunities, with renowned rivers such as the Colorado River, Arkansas River, and South Platte River. Anglers can target various trout species, including rainbow, brown, cutthroat, and brook trout.
- Wyoming: Wyoming is known for its pristine mountain streams and rivers, including the Snake River and the famous waters of Yellowstone National Park. It offers excellent trout fishing, with opportunities to catch native cutthroat trout and other species.
- California: With its vast and varied landscape, California provides a wide range of trout fishing experiences. The state is home to notable trout waters like the Owens River, Truckee River, and Hat Creek, offering opportunities for both wild and stocked trout.
- Idaho: Known as the "Gem State," Idaho boasts numerous trout fishing destinations, including the Henry's Fork, Silver Creek, and the South Fork of the Snake River. The state offers excellent fly fishing for both wild and stocked trout.
- Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania has a rich trout fishing heritage, offering anglers a combination of wild and stocked trout streams. The state's famous waters include the Allegheny River, Delaware River, and Letort Spring Run.
- New York: New York is renowned for its trout fishing opportunities, particularly in the Catskill Mountains. The state features famous trout rivers such as the Delaware, Beaverkill, and Esopus Creek.
- Oregon: Known for its scenic beauty and diverse fishery, Oregon offers excellent trout fishing in rivers like the Deschutes, McKenzie, and Rogue. Anglers can target various trout species, including rainbows, browns, and cutthroats.
- New Mexico: New Mexico provides a variety of trout fishing opportunities, including the famed San Juan River, known for its prolific trout population and consistent hatches. Other notable trout waters in the state include the Rio Grande and Rio Chama.
- Michigan: Michigan is a popular trout fishing destination, featuring excellent trout streams like the Au Sable River, Manistee River, and Pere Marquette River. The state offers both resident and migratory trout species.
Top 10 Fly-Fishing Hatches
- Blue-winged Olive (BWO) Hatch: BWO hatches are prevalent in many rivers and occur in spring and fall. These small mayflies often bring trout to the surface, and patterns such as the Parachute Adams and Pheasant Tail Nymph are effective imitations.
- Caddisfly Hatch: Caddis hatches are abundant and diverse, with different species appearing throughout the year. Elk Hair Caddis, X-Caddis, and Emerger patterns are popular choices during these hatches.
- Green Drake Hatch: The Green Drake hatch is eagerly anticipated by fly anglers. These large mayflies create exciting surface activity, and imitations such as the Green Drake Parachute and Comparadun patterns are effective.
- Salmonfly Hatch: The Salmonfly hatch is an exhilarating event on rivers like the Madison and Deschutes. Large stonefly imitations, such as the Chubby Chernobyl and Stimulator, are favored during this hatch.
- Pale Morning Dun (PMD) Hatch: PMD hatches are common in many rivers and occur in the summer months. Patterns like the PMD Parachute and PMD Sparkle Dun can be effective during these hatches.
- Trico Hatch: Trico hatches are characterized by swarms of tiny mayflies, challenging but rewarding for fly anglers. Patterns like the Trico Spinner and Trico Comparadun are often used to imitate these insects.
- Hendrickson Hatch: Hendrickson hatches occur in spring and are eagerly anticipated by anglers. Hendrickson patterns, such as the Hendrickson Comparadun and Sparkle Dun, are commonly used during this hatch.
- Sulphur Hatch: Sulphur mayflies emerge in large numbers during summer evenings. Popular patterns for Sulphur hatches include the Sulphur Comparadun and Rusty Spinner.
- Mahogany Dun Hatch: Mahogany Duns provide opportunities for dry fly fishing in the fall. Mahogany patterns, like the Mahogany Parachute and Mahogany Dun, can be effective imitations.
- Midges: Midges are a year-round staple in many rivers and lakes. Patterns like Griffith's Gnat, Zebra Midge, and Blood Midge are commonly used to imitate midges in various life stages.
Top 10 Cutthroat Trout Fisheries in the World
- Yellowstone National Park, United States: The park's rivers and streams, such as the Yellowstone, Lamar, and Gardner Rivers, offer fantastic opportunities to catch native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.
- Green River, Utah, United States: Known for its stunning red rock canyons, the Green River is famous for its trophy-sized Colorado River cutthroat trout. Flaming Gorge Reservoir, located along the river, is also a popular destination for cutthroat trout fishing.
- Henry's Fork, Idaho, United States: This renowned trout fishery is home to several subspecies of cutthroat trout, including Yellowstone, Snake River fine-spotted, and Henry's Fork strain cutthroats.
- Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia: Kamchatka boasts numerous remote rivers and streams with thriving populations of sea-run and resident East Siberian cutthroat trout. It offers a true wilderness fishing experience.
- South Fork of the Snake River, Idaho, United States: This blue-ribbon fishery is known for its native Yellowstone cutthroat trout as well as the challenging native fine-spotted Snake River cutthroat trout.
- Westslope Cutthroat Country, British Columbia, Canada: The rivers and lakes in this region, including the Elk River and St. Mary River, offer exceptional opportunities to target Westslope cutthroat trout, which are known for their striking colors.
- Clark Fork River, Montana, United States: The Clark Fork River provides a diverse fishery, including opportunities to catch native westslope cutthroat trout along with rainbow and brown trout.
- Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho, United States: This remote wilderness river offers a pristine habitat for native westslope cutthroat trout, providing anglers with a unique and rewarding fishing experience.
- Pyramid Lake, Nevada, United States: Known for its Lahontan cutthroat trout, Pyramid Lake is home to the world's largest cutthroat trout. Anglers have the chance to catch trophy-sized fish from the shore or by boat.
- North Platte River, Wyoming, United States: The North Platte River is renowned for its diverse trout fishery, including populations of Colorado River cutthroat trout, providing anglers with a chance to target this native species.
Why Do People Fly Fish?
People fly fish for various reasons, and the activity holds a unique appeal that sets it apart from other forms of angling. Here are some common reasons why people enjoy fly fishing:
Connection with nature: Fly fishing provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in nature. It often takes anglers to pristine and scenic locations such as rivers, lakes, and mountain streams, allowing them to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors.
Relaxation and stress relief: Fly fishing offers a peaceful and meditative experience. The rhythmic casting, the sound of flowing water, and the tranquility of the surroundings can help reduce stress and provide a sense of calm.
Challenge and skill development: Fly fishing can be a challenging pursuit that requires skill, technique, and patience. Mastering the art of casting, reading the water, and presenting flies to elusive fish can be personally rewarding and offers continuous opportunities for growth and improvement.
Conservation and environmental awareness: Fly anglers often have a deep appreciation for the environment and the ecosystems they fish in. Many fly fishing communities actively engage in conservation efforts, supporting initiatives to protect fisheries, restore habitats, and advocate for responsible angling practices.
Fly tying and creativity: Tying flies is an integral part of fly fishing for many anglers. Creating intricate and lifelike fly patterns allows for artistic expression and customization. Fly tying adds an extra dimension of creativity to the pursuit of fly fishing.
Pursuit of specific fish species: Certain fish species, such as trout, salmon, bass, or tarpon, are highly sought after by fly anglers due to their challenging behavior, strength, and beauty. The desire to target and catch these specific species drives many fly fishing enthusiasts.
Camaraderie and community: Fly fishing often fosters a sense of camaraderie and community. Anglers share their experiences, knowledge, and techniques with fellow enthusiasts, both in person and through online forums and fishing clubs.
Fly fishing culture and tradition: Fly fishing has a rich history and cultural heritage, which draws people to the activity. From classic fly patterns to stories of legendary anglers, there is a sense of connection to a tradition that spans generations.
Personal fulfillment and mindfulness: Fly fishing can provide a sense of personal fulfillment and accomplishment. Successfully fooling a fish into taking an artificial fly can create a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
Escape from the everyday: Fly fishing offers a chance to unplug from technology, disconnect from daily routines, and escape the fast-paced modern world. It provides an opportunity to be fully present in the moment and appreciate the simple pleasures of the natural world.
These reasons, among others, contribute to the enduring appeal of fly fishing and explain why it has captivated the hearts of so many anglers worldwide.
How do I fool a selective trout with a fly?
Observation and research: Take the time to observe the trout's behavior and feeding patterns. Note the type of insects present, their size, and how they move on the water. Research the specific hatch and understand the insects that are most likely to be available to the trout.
Match the hatch: Select a fly pattern that closely resembles the insects the trout are feeding on. Pay attention to size, shape, color, and behavior of the natural insects and try to imitate them as accurately as possible.
Presentation: Focus on presenting your fly in a natural and convincing manner. Make delicate and precise casts to avoid spooking the trout. Pay attention to drag, which is unnatural movement caused by the current pulling on the line, and strive for a drag-free drift.
Use smaller tippet and leaders: In situations where trout are selective, using a lighter tippet and leader can increase your chances of success. This helps provide a more delicate presentation and reduces the visibility of your line.
Approach with caution: Be stealthy and approach the fish from downstream or behind, staying low and avoiding making unnecessary movements. Trout have keen eyesight and can easily be spooked by an angler's presence.
Experiment with different fly patterns: If the trout doesn't respond to the initially chosen fly, try different patterns and sizes until you find one that entices a strike. Sometimes a slight variation in color, size, or silhouette can make all the difference.
Focus on the drift: Pay attention to the speed and depth at which your fly is drifting. Adjust your casting angle and mend the line if needed to achieve a natural drift that mimics the insect's natural behavior.
Be patient and persistent: Selective trout can be frustrating, but it's important to remain patient and persistent. Keep observing and adapting to their behavior. Even if you don't succeed immediately, the learning experience will help you become a more skilled angler.
How important is confidence in fly fishing?
Confidence plays a significant role in fly fishing and can have a notable impact on your overall success and enjoyment of the sport. Here's why confidence is important in fly fishing:
Casting and presentation: Confidence in your casting abilities allows you to make accurate and controlled casts, resulting in precise presentations of your fly. When you have confidence in your skills, you can focus on the nuances of the cast and effectively present the fly to the target area.
Decision-making: Confidence in your fly selection and fishing strategies enables you to make informed decisions on the water. When you trust your choices, you can fish with conviction and adapt to changing conditions more effectively.
Persistence and patience: Fly fishing can sometimes be challenging, and it requires persistence and patience to succeed. Confidence helps you remain focused and motivated, even during slow periods or when facing difficult fishing conditions. It encourages you to keep trying, experimenting, and learning from each experience.
Positive mindset: Confidence fosters a positive mindset, which is essential in fly fishing. It helps you maintain enthusiasm, enjoy the process, and embrace the challenges. A positive attitude can enhance your overall experience on the water and keep you motivated to continue learning and improving.
Adaptability: Confidence allows you to be adaptable in your approach. When you have confidence in your abilities, you are more willing to try new techniques, explore different waters, and adapt to changing fishing conditions. This flexibility increases your chances of success.
Overcoming challenges: Fly fishing often presents challenges, such as dealing with complex hatches, difficult casting situations, or finicky fish. Confidence helps you face these challenges with a determined and optimistic mindset, enabling you to overcome obstacles and find solutions.
Enjoyment and fulfillment: Confidence in your skills and knowledge can lead to a greater sense of enjoyment and fulfillment in fly fishing. When you have confidence, you can fully immerse yourself in the experience, appreciate the beauty of nature, and savor the moments on the water, regardless of the outcome.
It's important to note that confidence in fly fishing is not solely about catching fish. It's about having confidence in your abilities, decisions, and the overall process of fly fishing. Even when the fish aren't biting, confidence can help you derive satisfaction from the pursuit, the connection with nature, and the continual learning and growth as an angler.
Building confidence in fly fishing takes time and experience. It comes from practice, acquiring knowledge, and embracing a positive mindset. As you gain more experience on the water and see your skills develop, your confidence will naturally grow, enhancing your enjoyment and success in fly fishing.
Do secret spots still exist in fly fishing?
In today's interconnected world, where information is readily accessible and shared online, the concept of "secret spots" in fly fishing has become increasingly challenging. However, it's important to note that while true secret spots may be rare, there are still opportunities to discover lesser-known or less-frequented fishing locations. Here's a closer look at the concept of secret spots in fly fishing:
Remote and unexplored areas: Some regions, particularly those with limited access or challenging terrain, may have waters that receive less fishing pressure. These remote and unexplored areas can provide opportunities to find fishing spots that are relatively unknown to the broader angling community.
Local knowledge and networks: Local anglers who have spent years exploring their home waters often possess valuable knowledge about lesser-known fishing spots. Building relationships with local fishing communities or guides can provide access to hidden gems and lesser-known locations.
Small streams and backcountry waters: Smaller streams, tributaries, and backcountry waters can offer secluded fishing experiences. While these areas may not be completely unknown, they tend to receive less attention compared to larger and more popular rivers or lakes.
Timing and seasonal variations: Fishing conditions can vary significantly throughout the year. By timing your visits to coincide with off-peak seasons or less-frequented periods, you may encounter fewer anglers and have more solitude on the water.
Exploration and experimentation: Part of the joy of fly fishing is the sense of exploration and discovery. By venturing into new areas, exploring different sections of rivers, or experimenting with unconventional techniques, you may find overlooked spots that others have not fully explored.
However, it's crucial to approach these potential "secret spots" with respect and responsible angling practices. Conservation should always be a priority, and it's essential to adhere to local fishing regulations, obtain necessary permits or licenses, and practice catch-and-release principles to preserve the health and sustainability of fish populations.
Moreover, the spirit of fly fishing lies in sharing knowledge and experiences with fellow anglers. Instead of seeking out secret spots solely for personal gain, many anglers find value in fostering a sense of community by sharing information, stories, and tips to help others enjoy the sport.
While true secret spots may be elusive in today's digital age, the pursuit of fly fishing can still lead you to new and exciting waters that offer solitude, natural beauty, and memorable angling experiences.
So how do you think ChatGPT did? What would you like to hear ChatGPT’s fishing opinions about?