Quick Tips — Hang up or Hook up

by | Sep 5, 2018 | 2 comments

Up top or underneath, we must cover water to catch trout in a river. My days astream are a constant push and pull between reasons to stay and reasons to move on. Hanging around in a tailout for an extra fifteen minutes may be wise if I see swirls and flashing trout at the lip. But moving on and working more water is my default approach. The challenge, then, is knowing when to give up the ship and knowing when to stay on. And for that, I have a strategy — hang up or hookup.

I fish the sweetest spots until I either hook a trout or I hang the fly on something other than a trout’s jaw.

I remember watching fishermen at the bridge holes when I was a boy. And I never much understood the allure of plunking a five gallon bucket on the bank and casting over and over to the same spot — to the same trout. Later, I learned the distinction between stocked and wild trout. Sure, there may be a pod of recently stocked trout hanging in the shade of the the bridge abutment, but I won’t give them all day to make a decision. I find a reason to move on. And usually it’s hang up or hookup.

One point here: Most of the water I cast to is wadeable, and I’m the guy who goes in for the snag rather than breaking off the fly. I don’t like leaving hooks and leader parts on the bottom of the river or the neighboring trees, and I don’t like the empty slot in my fly box. I figure if it takes me two minutes to untangle a fly from a wet tree branch, and it takes me five minutes to tie a fly at the vise, then I win everytime I rescue my fly.

I’ve previously written about working into the prime spots — about not aiming for the bullseye right away. Instead of going for the jackpot on the fist cast, I like to pick off a few targets on the perimeter.

READ: Troutbitten | Work into the Prime Spots — Fifty Tips #42

I work up to a prime lie, casting nearby as I approach it. But once I’m there, once I’m casting to the sweet spot, I don’t leave until I either hook up with a trout (or two, or three), or I hang up on an obstruction and must retrieve the fly.

Courage

John played it cautious at the outside bend. He waded into the middle current and cast toward the roots until his yellow #6 Charlie Boy Hopper landed three feet from the root wad. It was a big chunk of tangled organic ropes separated from the earth and broken from its parent tree. Bowled over and turned topsy turvy, the mass had temporarily lodged at the outside bend of a side channel, awaiting the next major flood to come and plow it over again.

John cast as close as he dared the second time, and the foam grasshopper landed within a foot of the roots. The rubber legs jiggled in the current. The tippet went slack. The grasshopper copy drifted like the real thing.

Then Mr. Brown took a look from underneath. Hunkering under the safety of a foot-wide slab of spruce, he slid out for a moment, but he stopped. Generations of learned instinct made the decision for him. The grasshopper was too far away. Too risky. Mr. Brown slid back under the dark spruce, and John moved upriver too.

The pair would never meet. It’s a sad story.

Photo by Bill Dell

Get ‘em next time . . .

Next time you’re at the outside bend, take a chance at the watery stump. Cast to its perimeter as you approach, and target the prime water when you’re in the best position. But before you leave, take a chance. Cast the fly close enough to the stump to either hang it up on a root or bury the hook in a trout’s jaw.

Dry fly, streamer, wet fly, nymph — the same rule applies. Throw a streamer in for some danger. Risk more.

And while you’re nymphing a juicy swirl that you know holds fish, don’t leave until you hook a trout or you finally hang up on something deep. If you snag the fly, at least you know you took the presentation to the bottom and down to the trout. Wade out, get the fly back and move on.

Then treat the next prime spot with the same approach. Hang up or hookup.

Fish hard, friends.

Photo by Matt Grobe

 

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

Trout Like To Line Up In Productive Seams

Trout Like To Line Up In Productive Seams

Trust the lanes. Trout choose them for a reason. And while it might not make sense to us why they pick one lane over the next, don’t argue with the fish. Wherever you fool a trout, expect to catch his friends in the very same lane. Follow that seam all the way to its beginnings, even if the character of that seam changes from deep to shallow or from slow to fast. Stay in the lane, and trust that more hungry trout are there, waiting to be fooled . . .

Reading Water — Every Rock Creates Five Seams

Reading Water — Every Rock Creates Five Seams

Downstream of every rock are three obvious seams: the left seam, right seam and the slower seam in the middle. That part is easy. But the most productive seams are more hidden, and many anglers seem to miss them altogether. These are the two merger seams, where each fast seam meets the slower part in the middle. And if I had to pick just one target area, day after day and season after season, I would surely choose the merger seams . . .

The Tight Line Advantage Across Fly Fishing Styles

The Tight Line Advantage Across Fly Fishing Styles

I first picked up fly fishing as a teenager, and I vividly remember the confusion. With time, I learned to cast the weight of the line rather than the weight of the lure, but I didn’t know what to do with the line after the cast. Sure, I learned about mending, but that never seemed to solve the problems at hand. Enter, tight lining concepts . . .

Levels, Resets and New Beginnings

Levels, Resets and New Beginnings

The frequent chance for a purely new beginning is one of the joys of small to medium sized rivers. It keeps us hopeful. Forgiveness comes at the next level — across the next lip. This is the time for a deep breath and renewed determination. Because in the next level, over fresh trout that are unwise to our presence, all of our plans will come together. This we believe . . .

Leaders in the Troutbitten Shop

Leaders in the Troutbitten Shop

Troutbitten leaders are now available in the Troutbitten Shop. These are hand tied leaders in four varieties: Harvey Dry Leader, Standard Mono Rig, Thin Mono Rig, and Micro-Thin Mono Rig. Standard Sighters are also available, and they include a Backing Barrel. The Full Mono Rig Kit contains each of the three Mono Rig leaders.

All Troutbitten leaders come on a three-inch spool, making long leader changes a breeze.

Design and Function of the Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig

Design and Function of the Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig

Here, finally, is a full breakdown on the design of my favorite leader. It’s built for versatility without compromising presentation. It’s a hybrid system with an answer for everything, ready for fishing nymphs on both a tight line and under an indy. It fishes streamers large and small, with every presentation style. It’s ready for dry dropper, wet flies, and it even casts single dry flies. All of these styles benefit greatly with a tight line advantage.

Anglers in contact are anglers in control. It’s fun and effective, because we know where the flies are, and we choose where they go next . . .

What do you think?

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

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for another great post Dom. I often struggle with how much longer I should stay and fish a given spot. My practice up until now has been to make 5-10 “perfect” drifts through the prime lie before allowing myself to move on. But that assumes I’m getting my flies down to the right depth which looking back, I don’t actually know if I’ve been doing or not. Hang up or hook up solves that problem. I’m also assuming that the reason to move on after hanging up is because you’ve spooked any willing fish by wading through the prime lie to retrieve your fly?

    Reply
  2. Excellent, totally agree, I’ll keep casting and changing rigs until I hook a tree or a snag and have to wade further in and retrieve the rig. I try to avoid casting where I think I could not retrieve the rig if I snag up.And if I have to kill the prime spot by recovering the rig, so be it. And I’ll make several drifts through a likely spot, changing things because you may not hit the ideal drift first, second or third time, you can identify a likely spot, but you have to SEARCH it to find if fish are there because you cannot see the dynamics of the currents without drifting your nymphs through several times. I was a fishery officer in the UK, the worst damage to wild life was caused by fly anglers, its not the nylon left in the tree, its the fly imitation, at nesting time, birds are in a rush to feed their young and grab at what they think are insects,and get hooked up. Always use barbless hooks in case you leave flies in a tree, its not a given that birds will throw the hook, but they have a better chance if its barbless. But always try to get the hooks and nylon out of there.

    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