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

One Great Nymphing Trick

One Great Nymphing Trick

Whether tight lining, nymphing with an indicator or fishing dry-dropper, the most critical element for getting a good dead drift is to lead the nymph through one single current seam. Remember, the nymph is always being pulled along by a fishing line. Even on the best...

Cherry Picking or Full Coverage?

Cherry Picking or Full Coverage?

  Today, Hatch Magazine published an article that I wrote about two different approaches on the river. Here are a few excerpts ... -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- ... Like a slow and silent time-lapse parade, over the span of an hour, the next fisherman took the position...

Take Five

Take Five

2:15 pm. Conditions are perfect and the trout should be active, but I’ve caught so few fish that I still know the slim count. Six. That’s four wild browns and two stocked rainbows that found their way here from only God knows where. But stocked bows have no regard for...

Fly Fishing Strategies: Tags and Trailers

Fly Fishing Strategies: Tags and Trailers

Sometimes trout are feeding so aggressively that the particular intricacies of how nymphs are attached to the line seem like a trivial waste of time. Those are rare, memorable days with wet hands that never dry out between fish releases. More often than not, though, trout make us work to catch them. And those same particulars about where and how the flies are attached can make all the difference in delivering a convincing presentation to a lazy trout.

Two nymphs can double your chances of fooling a trout. But there are downsides. Here are some strategies for rigging and getting the most from two fly rigs.

Streamside | Hatch Mag Tight Line Leader

Streamside | Hatch Mag Tight Line Leader

We've gotten a lot of questions, comments and reactions to a few recent articles that we published about Sighters, Tight Line Rigs and Why Fly Line Sucks. It's cool to see so much interest. Many of the questions are about the mono rig itself, and there is definitely...

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

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.

Pin It on Pinterest