Commentary Fifty Tips Philosophy

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #50 — Fish Hard

July 15, 2018

Here we are, at the end of fifty tips. Just two weeks shy of a year ago today, I started this series with a plan. Determined to publish every Sunday, I wrote these tips to be a little different, trying for something unique, and with a new take on some stuff many of us may not have considered for a while.

And what a year it’s been.

The feedback I’ve received on this Fifty Tips series showed me how hungry other fly anglers are for information, and how appreciative readers are when it’s done with a little flair.

I’m a writer. It is, perhaps, my first love. My Mom has stories that I wrote on blue-lined notebook paper from grade school, and I’ve always found a place for creativity and communication in these words. I graduated with a BA in English and a minor in philosophy, and if you’ve read much of Troutbitten, that won’t surprise you. Trout fishing through rivers, it seems, is a wonderful place for introspection and for seeing the details of things — it’s another inspiration to be creative.

Photo by Bill Dell

A Year

In the last fifty weeks, my plans for Troutbitten came into focus. I got so many requests for guided trips that I decided to fill out the forms, take a CPR class and purchase a Pennsylvania guide license. Guiding, I’ve learned, is a natural fit, because I love to teach and share the things that were passed down to me. I also enjoy adding in my own discoveries about fly fishing and seeing what people make of them. And now, in just a few short months, I’ve guided dozens of anglers coming from all over the country and beyond, mostly to learn, and mostly because they follow Troutbitten. I’m thankful for that.

I see the full range of passion and interest that fly anglers have for this sport. Fly fishing is like that — it captivates you and draws you in. No wonder, then, people look for communities of other like minded anglers seeking out information and enjoyment online. Troutbitten has grown into one of those places. (And I’ll humbly point out that Troutbitten now reaches more monthly users than the distribution of many popular fly fishing magazines.) Here is a home for those who love trout fishing on a fly rod. And through the messages, emails and conversations with many of you, I know what to write next.


I will do more series like these Fifty Tips. There will be a tight lining series and a streamer series, among others. And a few days ago I started a series on night fishing.

I’ll continue to publish online because that’s where the industry is moving. And I plan to stay independent. So to bring in revenue, to keep writing and adding more content, I’m looking to partner with other fly fishing companies. I’ll place ads on Troutbitten that bring value to this site and reach the hungry, trusting audience of Troutbitten.

So I need your support. If you own or work for such a company, drop me a line. Troutbitten will continue to grow, with more series, videos, tips, commentary and stories. And it will always read more like a book than a blog.

Fish Hard

All of that is to say that I’ve been working hard on Troutbitten. It’s consumed a large part of my life for the last year or so. That’s the way I do things. And while it’s helpful to remember to come up for air once in a while, the way I work best is to do what my father taught me — to just do the next thing.

This Fifty Tips series started with a simple message: Fish more. And it concludes with a message that is at the core of Troutbitten: Fish hard.

Fly fishing becomes part of us because we long to be back in the middle of the river, waist deep in flowing water somewhere between two mountains. We dream of the valley and carry it in our hearts. We remember the way it felt last time, and we want that again. So we plot our return. And we pass the time by forming plans about the way it all will go next time.

“How was the fishing?” They ask.

“It was nice just being out there.”

We all say this at one time or another. And it’s true. Finding our space between those two mountains never disappoints — it’s always fulfilling. The river always gives us something we need.

But what brings us back is the trout. Fishing without catching only goes so far. It only lasts so long. We dream not just of the woods and the water, but the trout too. And catching those fish brings in another art, another appreciation for the challenge and a new way to be creative. It also fulfills our human need to learn something. And without a trout on the end of your line once in a while, you’re just hiking through the water with a ten-foot stick.

So I say fish with a purpose. Have a plan. Know what you want to work on, and achieve it. Try harder. Fish harder. If there’s a weakness in your fly fishing game, then attack it. If you only fish dry flies well, then learn the nymph. If you know that your streamer game is shaky, strengthen it.

Catch more fish. It’s good for you.

I often mentioned here that I coach Little League baseball. And my prevailing message to every kid on my team is to play hard. I tell them to give it everything they have at every moment, because it’s something to be proud of. When you’re between the foul lines, I say go hard. Take no pitches off and no plays off. Be ready. Know what you plan to do when the ball is hit, and get after it.

Now, I know that every time we step into the river we don’t want to go a hundred miles an hour. And I would never suggest that. Fish hard just means caring enough to follow through with those river dreams you had back at the office, or in your easy chair, or driving to work. When you are between the lines of the river banks — when you’re boots are wet — have a purpose. Be ready, have a plan and get after it.

Fish hard, friends.

Photo by Bill Dell

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


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Stephen Cifka

Thanks for this year of writing and insight into fishing hard. You have accomplished something special and unique, as well as passing on your hard-earned killer tips. Just learning about the mono-rig as well as your bunny bullet sculpin pattern alone made the year worth it. Keep-em coming and the best of adventures to you!–Steve From Olympia, WA


Hi Domenic,
Yep, keep at it, buddy. I enjoy your perspective on fly fishing and I’ve learned along the way. I keep my mind clear and I’m always open to new ideas. Old dogs can learn new tricks.
The Best,


Thank you for a well written series of articles, I enjoyed them. …and thanks for being different.

Alex Argyros

Happy 50th, Dom. Nowhere on the web, or in print, does such a wealth of insight and information exist. Your series is a rousing success. Thank you.

Andrew C DeLisle

Enjoyed all of it
Great pic’s and info
Tight Lines

Vassalboro Maine


Dominic, thank you for the past year of education and inspiration. Currently living in western NY has me trout starved. Our hot weather and 70+ water temps has altered my personality . My days on the water this year is below average due to high spring water and now the heat. I support your theroy fish more but it can be difficult at times…Getting out 25 days this year just does not cut it for me. Could you possibly write an article on how to build a tailwater in your hometown in less than 30 days ? Thanks again and… Read more »

Fishing More(1) will help you to Learn to Read(29) Familiar Water(4) so you can Find Feeding Fish(22) – and when you do, Get Closer(23) and use the System You Found(5). That about sums it up. Thanks Dom.


Holy crap, Domenick, you’re almost as old as me. You’re catching up. I’m just 64.


Couldn’t agree more with the other comments. I look forward with anticipation to each of your new posts. Your thoughts often have me questioning my own approach and, more than that, it’s just an excellent read.

David Witmer

Fantastic series. I don’t remember how I first found Troutbitten, but it was the 50 Tips series that made me stay. I finally found a way to fish two nymphs effectively (Davy knot above a tippet ring, both first read about right here) and caught more fish this year than ever before because of it. Keep up the great work and we’ll keep consuming it all. Next time I’m in town, I hope to hit you up for some guiding on the Spring.

Jim Martin

Dom, you have a gift for writing … thanks for a year of great tips, thoughtful insight and honest and open introspection. I absolutely loved the series!

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.

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