Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #20 — Angles, Angles, Angles

by | Dec 10, 2017 | 0 comments

As the sun dropped below the treeline, the water surface turned a dark gunmetal grey, and I lost track of my caddis. I fought the glare for a while, tilting my head, pushing my sunglasses up to my forehead and flipping them back down minutes later. I still couldn’t see my fly, and whatever daylight remained was fading quickly. Instinctively, I climbed aboard a midstream boulder . . .

It was our first trip to the First Fork of the Sinnemahoning in ten years. Dad and I were back at this Pennsylvania river, and we were awash in memories a decade old. The last time I’d touched this water I was as a teenage boy fighting the overwhelming size of the river and trying desperately not to go over the top of my rubber hip waders — all while casting Rooster Tails and live minnows up and across.

A decade later, this river now seemed smaller. I was stronger, taller and more experienced at navigating rocky rivers, full of the confidence that comes with chest waders and boot studs. But it was more than that, too. Being back among the same rocks and river bends from ten years ago, seeing that they hadn’t changed, but I had — realizing that I’d grown up — was the same sensation of revisited my elementary school as an adult. I felt powerful.

Climbing the boulder was easy, and it put me above the blackwater surface. From my perch, the angle shifted, and I could see the river again. I found my fly and noticed the dimpled rises of trout all around me. The first fish I targeted slashed aggressively, and I set the hook. Seconds later, the process repeated. Trout ate my caddis dry as though it was a perfect match — I’m certain it wasn’t. But in this unpressured freestone river, in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier, who cares? The trout didn’t. So in that magic, last hour of spring daylight, I cast to and caught every riser I saw, until darkness finally sent us home.

Find the Angle

I remember that day and the moment of climbing the rock as the first time I truly recognized difficult light angles on the water and knew I could do something about them. Perhaps I should have figured it out long before twenty-three years of age. Regardless, I learned that I can alter the glare on a river’s surface; I can change how clearly I see into the depths and down to the riverbed by simply moving my feet and shifting the angle.

Photo by Chris Kehres

Another twenty years later, and finding those angles is intuitive. Without thinking much about it, I usually set myself up with the sun behind or to my side, avoiding the surface glare of direct light. As I fish upstream I might work left bank to right, moving perpendicular across the stream flow until I reach the right bank. Then I quickly wade left again, back to the left bank, to start over on the next line — like a classic Underwood typewriter printing out one sentence at a time.

READ: Troutbitten | High Light — Low Light

I’ll gladly choose a secondary lie over a prime lie just to gain better light angles, because I hate fighting through any glare. There’s always a good angle and a bad one, even on cloudy days. I’ve learned that, in fishing, seeing is believing. And if I can’t see my fly, my sighter, or the depth and features of the water I’m casting to, I lose confidence.

In every daylight situation, there’s always a better side, a better angle to fish. When the sun sinks low in the valley, the water surface may take on that blackwater look I encountered with my Dad one evening on the First Fork. That gunmetal glare is harder to defeat by adjusting angles from side to side. But if you can get above the surface a little more, and stay close, you will regain some visibility of the situation before real darkness sets in.

No matter the conditions, consider the light angle and how it affects your fishing.

Fish hard, friends.

Photo by Austin Dando

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

Acquire Your Target Before the Pickup

Acquire Your Target Before the Pickup

Accuracy. It’s an elementary casting principle, but it’s the hardest thing to deliver. Wild trout are unforgiving. So the errant cast that lands ten inches to the right of a shade line passes without interest. As river anglers, our task is a complicated one, because we must be accurate not only with the fly to the target, but also with the tippet. Wherever the leader lands, the fly follows. Accuracy holds a complexity that is not for the faint of heart. But here’s one tip that guarantees immediate improvement right away.

Be the Heron

Be the Heron

We can learn much about wading a river for trout by observing the heron. Take time to watch these compelling predators — these master hunters of the river. Because the lessons of incomparable stealth are unforgettable once you’ve seen them . . .

The Spooky Trout: Find Their Blind Spot

The Spooky Trout: Find Their Blind Spot

Understand that trout can’t turn their heads, and they don’t look behind themselves casually.

And from a fisherman’s perspective, as one who has spent decades accidentally scaring the fish I intended to catch, I assure you that the best way to approach a trout is from behind . . .

Part Two: What you’re missing by following FIPS competition rules — Leader Restrictions

Part Two: What you’re missing by following FIPS competition rules — Leader Restrictions

Leader length restrictions unnecessarily limit the common angler from taking full advantage of tight line systems. Such rules force the angler to compensate with different lines, rods and tactics. And none of it is as efficient as a long, pure Mono Rig that’s attached to a standard fly line on the reel. Here’s a deep dive on the limitations of using shorter leaders and comp or euro lines.

Are You Spooking Trout?

Are You Spooking Trout?

All trout continuously adapt to their surroundings — they learn what to expect, and they spook from the unexpected.

So, stealth on the water and understanding what spooks a trout is foundational knowledge in fly fishing. Trout are easily scared. Are you spooking fish?

What do you think?

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

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest