April 2018

Fifty Tips Tips/Tactics

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #40 — The Trout is Upstream of the Rise

on
April 29, 2018
Anglers love to talk about trout rise forms. There’s the subtle sip and the tail tip, the splashy swirl and the sideways swipe. Surely, all the various ways trout rise to the surface indicates something about what they’re actually feeding on. But regardless of the rise form, one primary rule (usually) applies: The trout is holding upstream of where you saw it rise.

Let’s imagine a trout holding in two feet of water with a medium current — a speed that matches a comfortable and casual walking pace. The trout lies on the bottom, with its nose in the flow, watching for available food drifting downstream toward it. Perhaps the trout is keying on Sulfur mayfly duns, and it’s rising confidently to most of the half-inch, yellowish insects that drift into view of its seam.

Here comes the next dun . . .

Tips/Tactics

Three Parts of an Ideal Indicator Leader

on
April 25, 2018
I’m not much of a gear guy. I demand a solid pair of waders, and I’m picky about boots, but I don’t obsess over rods and reels. I have what I need, I guess. I am a leader junkie, though, and I have been since the beginning. Early on, I understood how critical leader design is. For presenting the fly, specific material and taper matters a lot.

I’ve never liked trying to make one leader do everything, either. The inherent compromises in a do-it-all leader are too great — performance for each tactic suffers. And I know many anglers who agree; they carry both a long leader for tight line nymphing and a dry fly leader. After all, there’s a world of difference in the expectations for those two styles.

But here’s the thing: Indicators are often added to our leader as an afterthought — which leads to another compromise. We’re left with a tool that is not well suited for the job. It works, but it could be better.

So for many years I’ve carried a third leader dedicated to indicator nymphing. And built into the leader are three features which are specifically up to the task of floating nymphs under an indy.

Fifty Tips Tips/Tactics

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #39 — Look Upstream to Find the Seams

on
April 22, 2018
The river is in motion. It carves a path that erodes its rocky bottom and gnaws at its bordering banks. It cuts lanes and moves channels, constantly shaping the valley into something new. And within the river’s path is structure — all the things that give a river character: logs, tree parts, rocks, boulders, gravel bars and rootsy banks. That structure forms seams where trout live. (Find the seams and you’ll find fish.) And the best way to see them . . . is to look way upstream.

The structure in your favorite large river or small brookie stream creates seams extending well beyond what is obvious. The two distinct lanes running along each side of a midstream boulder create a third zone, a stall, right in the middle. It’s easy to see those three water features up close to the rock, but the further downstream the water travels, the more those features fade and blend into each other. And such is the beauty of a trout stream.

Tips/Tactics Troutbitten Fly Box

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bread-n-Butter Nymph

on
April 20, 2018
This simple nymph is a winner. The Bread-n-Butter looks enough like a mayfly nymph, enough like a caddis, or enough like a small stonefly to be a very productive pattern. Whatever trout take it for, it gets attention and seals the deal frequently. It’s on my short list of confidence flies.

Yes. It looks like a Hare’s Ear nymph. Half the stuff in my box looks like a Hare’s Ear or a Pheasant Tail. When you turn over rocks to see what kind of bugs trout are eating, most of what you find fits under the category of “little brown things with some moving parts.”

My theory of fly selection is based in simplicity. I don’t carry hundreds of patterns, because I’ve found that I don’t need to. And carrying fewer flies forces me to adjust my presentation — to fish harder — instead of blaming the fly and changing what’s on the end of my line.

Commentary

Catching Big Fish Does Not Make You a Stud . . . Necessarily

on
April 18, 2018
Go ahead. Look back through the Troutbitten archives and you’ll find a bunch of photos featuring big, beautiful trout. Chasing the biggest wild browns is part of our culture. It’s a challenge, and it’s a motivator — something that pulls us back to the rivers time and again.

I have friends who are big fish hunters to their core. Nothing else satisfies them. For me, I guess chasing big trout is a phase that I roll in and out of as the years pass. And although I don’t choose to target big trout on every trip, I always enjoy catching them. Who wouldn’t?

Hooking the big ones is part of the allure of fishing itself, no matter the species or the tactics used. What fisherman doesn’t get excited about the biggest fish of the day? It’s fun. And it’s inherent in our human nature to see bigger as better. But is it? Better what? Better fish? Better fisherman?