Fifty Tips Tips/Tactics

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #33 — Fish the Edge

March 11, 2018

I walked against the current for most of the evening, working a mid-river seam with a pair of nymphs, stepping slowly upstream after a few casts and picking off a trout every ten yards or fifteen minutes (however you want to measure it).

In the heaviest sections, the water was forceful enough that I turned sideways, just to stay upright and prevent being bowled over by three feet of hard whitewater. My backside to the bank, I cast upstream into the deep, prime currents of the early spring season.

Underneath the surface, nymphs crawled over an unseen riverbed of rocks and tree parts. Trout foods were nearing the end of a life cycle. Mayfly wing cases were engorged, ready to split at just the right moment and join their brothers and sisters in a mass emergence, with millions of see-through-thin, fluttering wings. Cased caddis outgrew their tubular homes and were on the precipice of the same emergence. The smells of spring were palpable. Anticipation hung over the river. And undeniably, it was a great time to fish nymphs.

In river sections with milder current, I faced upstream, making an easier task of casting and drifting to the main, middle seams. And from the corner of my vision, just off the periphery, I began to notice something. Time and again, I glimpsed trout moving from the river’s edge and out into the main flow. Darting shadows sprinted for the safety of faster water as I passed perpendicular to their holding lie. And some of those quick shadows were much larger than the trout I was catching.

It went on like this for a good hour before I finally accepted the suggestions of the trout shadows. When a particularly large pair of dark phantoms abandoned the bank and skirted the perimeter of my position, I’d had enough. I turned my back to the main flow where I was catching trout. I waded a little closer to the river’s edge and cast to water that looked like nothing.

Sure, I know all about fishing the juicy undercuts and logjams. Some of my favorite prime lies are right on the edge, where a good current seam rubs up against a rootsy bank and scours out a bucket where the best trout in the river make a home. These unique places are often transitional; they’re here one season and gone with the next flood, washed out and re-positioned by time and by the endless forces of nature.

READ: Troutbitten | Upper Honey

I also know about hitting the banks during high or muddy water. And I know that trout love to find a shady summer corner and wait for ants and beetles to make a mistake. I know that Whiskeys like to ambush baitfish in the comfortable shallows just near the banks (particularly under the cover of darkness). And I know why streamers fished to the edges is a popular strategy.

But now I know. Now I know that even the most nondescript, average, boring bank is a good place to try a nymph. It’s a good place to land a dry or any type of fly. It’s another type of water to believe in, to give trout the chance that maybe — just maybe — they’re holding along the banks. It’s not just the prime undercuts or during high waters, either. No. Sometimes, trout are found where I least expect them.

Fish hard, friends.


Click here for details.


Enjoy the day
Domenick Swentosky


Not a whole lot of this left this year. Make the most of it. Photo by Josh Stewart


Read All of the Fifty Tips Series

What do you think?

4 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
  Follow the comments on this article.  
Notify of
Jim Rancourt

Dom…Honest and serious question. Throughout all the posts all I ever see are Brown Trout. Why? Where are the Brookies and tail-walking Rainbows that take your breath away and set your heart to fluttering as they go through their aerobatics? 🙂

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . .

Great Tips. Thank you.

Domenick Swentosky

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.

carp Sawyer giveaway strategy Christmas Lights nymphs PFBC river winter fly fishing Fly Casting winter fishing Wild vs Stocked montana high water come on man patience mono rig Bad Mother fishing tips bar boots Wild Brown Trout TU tightline How it Started Galloup Peace wading friends Whiskey Drinker casting PSA walking Dad Dylan wet wading Night Fishing mistakes indicator fishing mud droppers Buggers wet flies fluke wildlife dorsey yarn indicator front ended tips brown trout suspender fishing saltwater fly tying wading boots Ask an Expert Namer wet fly fishing solitude traction rookies Resources Tippet Rings ice simplicity shark BES DJS angler types Streamers etiquette streamside mousing Fish Hard explore Harvey Pusher Grandfather dry fly fishing Industry Stuff Memories club fishing Oakiewear tenkara falling in flies conservation Quote travel Night tippet stinky bass tracks fall Whiskey Little Juniata River It's just fishing swinging thunderstorm LBI Floating dry flies mayfly flood knots big brown trout net Night Fishing Chapters summertime fishing catch and release wild trout trout bum Sighter History family snags Headbanger Sculpin rigs fly patterns summer safety Press comp fishing George Daniel Troutbitten Fly Box regulations fly fsihing fly box Plans Weather surf fishing winter fishing with kids Jeff waders Joey favorite hiking drop shot nymphing posted land dead drift the Mono Rig dog efficiency Float Fishing Fly Fishing Orvis Fifty Tips Dry-Dropper brookies fly line DHALO Gierach Fly rods marginal water Presentations boys fighting fish split shot night-sighter skunked Backing Barrel One Great Tip philosophy gear science matters rules Trust tight line nymphing big fish Rich Grobe spot burning FishHard Mystery beadhead Baseball cookout Burke reading water Boat PA Gold Davy Wotten Aiden float Central PA drifting George Harvey Wild Mushrooms Stockies backcountry nymphing tight lining tiny flies Camping backcast public land Doh nymphing tips leaders brush fishing spawning musician silence Big Trout Euro-Nymphing DIY fly rod Streamer fishing time stocked trout bite windows Pennsylvania Spring Creek indicator nymphing photography camera Trout Unlimited Discovery small streams friendship last cast home-stream