While this is one of the most disappointing moments on the water, I find that refusals from fish often are some of the most magical, exciting and downright enlightening moments as well. We only know the ones we can see, which must be just a fraction, and when a trout rises from depths to inspect your offering, looking every bit as if it is intent on eating...that moment when it rolls over, darts off leaving an eddy from it's massive tail, or simply sinks away, is many times more compelling than disappointing, once you get over that slap upside your ego.
We can't improve our game without them; and it's all right there for you to observe. What happened? Was it the wrong pattern? Did it drag at the last instant? Did it see the leader? Or me? And most importantly, will it come up again?
The slow and deliberate refusal by a trout to a dry fly is for me the most mysterious and beautiful. And even if you can answer the why, there is an enigma that will persist in your trout brain for good. It'll always keep us coming back.
Conversely, the power of a large brown or salmon charging down your streamer with trailing wake, and the lightning quickness of it's change in direction upon being spooked, eddies boiling before you as it joins the chase again, then spooks, then comes again, before disappearing, is pure adrenaline. I submit, twice that of an actual hookup. Because of the mystery...how big was it?
I have learned to appreciate, even slightly enjoy, a refusal for the glimpse it gives me into the life of a trout.
"It gets late early out there" - Yogi Berra