Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #18 — Imagine a Target — Fish to the Fish

by | Nov 26, 2017 | 2 comments

You can roam the river, mending, drifting and stripping, casting into every corner pocket and straight channel. You have the skills to present the fly, the consummate awareness of currents and flows and the stamina to wade rough water for hours on end. But can you imagine a target? Can you picture a trout feeding in the hydraulic swirl behind an unseen chunk of bedrock on the river bottom? Can you believe the trout is there?

The capacity to imagine a trout in the river is a next-level skill that’s only earned by thoughtful time on the water. The angler who mentally catalogs not only the location but also the water conditions surrounding every hooked trout ultimately becomes skilled at predicting where the next fish will be. She fishes with precision, not just to a spot, but to an imagined trout that suddenly becomes real when it’s attached to the end of a fishing line.

It’s not enough to fish a good spot. Fish to the fish, whether seen or unseen.

Photo by Chris Kehres

Most of us don’t get to sight-fish very often. Water and light conditions rarely combine with fish willing to hold in water that’s clear enough, shallow enough and slow enough to reveal their position. On a good day, we catch partial glimpses of a trout, a flashing fin or a fluttering tail. On the luckiest days we might see the full length of a trout; we watch him feed, and then present our fake among the naturals. And in providential moments, the trout eats our fly.

I can count on one hand the times those stars have aligned so well.

Naturally, this is why we all love rising trout, because the target is given as concentric circles on the surface. We cast upstream of the bullseye and hope that the river may put our visible dry smack dab in the center.

The daily angler cannot wait for such moments. Sight fishing and rising trout are infrequent and special opportunities among the hours of a day and seasons of a year. Usually, we must imagine our target and believe its existence with conviction.

We’ve learned to read the water. We understand how currents interact with structure — the eroding bank, the fallen tree, the granite boulder — redirecting the water’s flow and bringing food to a single, waiting trout. Now it’s time to imagine precisely where our trout is holding, to envision how he will move and intercept the fly. And it’s our job to get it there.

We know the water and the habits of our wild trout well enough to imagine his position precisely. We must trust the invisible trout, as though he were in full view, and fish to him with confidence and resolve.

Fish hard, friends.

 

Enjoy the day
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

 

 

 

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

More from this Category

Fly Shop Fluorocarbon too expensive? Try InvizX

Fly Shop Fluorocarbon too expensive? Try InvizX

Seaguar Invizx has become my go to fluorocarbon tippet material, and some of my Troutbitten friends do the same. It’s thin, strong and flexible with excellent handling and flex. Invizx is as good as some fly shop brands and better than many others. And because the type of tippet we use is not what catches trout, I don’t overspend on tippet . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve

Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve

Learning to use the natural curve that’s present in every cast produces better drag free drifts than does a straight line.

It takes proficiency on both the forehand and backhand.

I’ve seen some anglers resist casting backhand, just because it’s uncomfortable at first. But, by avoiding the backhand, half of the delivery options are gone. So, open up the angles, understand the natural curve and get better drag free drifts on the dry fly . . .

Stabilize the Fly Rod with the Forearm

Stabilize the Fly Rod with the Forearm

A steady and balanced sighter is important from the beginning, because effective tight line drifts are short. But there’s one overlooked way to stabilize the sighter immediately — tuck the rod butt into the forearm.

Here’s how and why . . .

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Tracking the Flies

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Tracking the Flies

Regardless of the leader choice, angle of delivery, or distance in the cast, every tight liner must choose whether to lead, track or guide the flies downstream. So the question here is how do you fish these rigs, not how they are put together.

Good tracking is about letting the flies be more affected by the current than our tippet. Instead of bossing the flies around and leading them downstream, we simply track their progress in the water.

Tracking is the counterpoint to leading. Instead of controlling the speed and position of the nymphs through the drift, we let the flies find their own way . . .

Thoughts on Rod Tip Recovery

Thoughts on Rod Tip Recovery

Rod tip recovery is the defining characteristic of a quality fly rod versus a mediocre one.

Cast the rod and watch it flex. Now see how long it takes for the rod tip to stop shaking. Watch for a complete stop, all the way to a standstill — not just the big motions, but the minor shuddering at the end too.

Good rods recover quickly. They may be fast or slow. They may be built for power or subtly, but they recover quickly. They return to their original form in short order.

Here’s why . . .

A Simple Slidable Foam Pinch-On Indy

A Simple Slidable Foam Pinch-On Indy

One of the joys of fly fishing is problem solving. There are so many tools available, with seemingly infinite tactics to discover, it seems like any difficult situation on the water can be solved. Perhaps it can. For those anglers who search for answers in tough moments, the prospect of solving a puzzle builds lasting hope into every cast. And after seasons on the water, the game becomes not how many trout we can catch, but how many ways those trout can be caught. Then, when presented with conditions that chase fair-weather fishers off the water, we rise to the moment with a tested solution, perfectly adapted and suited for the variables at hand.

There is not one way. There are a hundred ways. And the best anglers are prepared with all of them.

One of them is the slidable foam pinch on indy . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

2 Comments

  1. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Dom. Thanks for another inspiration.

    Reply
  2. Once again,dead on!!! Luckily I fish the same wayer so much I have 95% of the trout named,but after watching videos of feeding trout it really helped me to do just what you advise,visualize that trout,holding in that spot,actively feeding and waiting for your fly!! Like in any type of fishing,you can’t catch fish if they’re not there and locating fish holding water and approaching properly is 75% of trout fish,to my thinking! Thanks,have a great 2020

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest