New to tight lining? Then staring at the bright piece of colored line is a good place to start. But when you gain some skills for reading the angle and speed of the sighter, when you can quickly gauge contact with your nymphs by glancing at the sag of the sighter, then it’s time to look ahead. Get to the next level.
We do everything possible to improve the visibility of the sighter section in our leaders. We leave tag ends, add backing barrels and use super-bright opaque material. Good anglers also learn to fish from the best angles for visibility — usually with the sun or brightest light at their backs. So it’s easy to be mesmerized by those colors. And I think most nymph fishers catch themselves staring at the sighter too often, missing all the other available signals.
What are those signals? Most of them are beyond the sighter — past the last visible piece of yellow, red, orange, etc. and into the water.
More Line — More Angle
Look for the tippet first. Most often the sighter is above the surface, so there may be a foot or two of tippet leading into the water (maybe more). And if you have the light angles in your favor, you can often track that tippet right down to where it touches the river.
Back in my minnow slingin’ days, that’s all I had to watch for. I had no sighter. Instead, I found the place where my 6 lb Berkley Trilene entered the water. Then I watched the angle of the my line above the water. And I used what I could see to estimate the position of things I couldn’t see (my line and minnow under the water).
It’s the same with a Mono Rig and flies, but now I have the distinct advantage of the sighter built into my rig. It leads my eyes, and it more clearly shows me that angle. And if I look past it, I will often see the rest of the line before it disappears into the water.
** Quick Side note ** I often add a simple Backing Barrel, with no tag, about twenty inches below my sighter and on the tippet. This tiny piece of orange backing is remarkably visible, and I use it to direct my eyes to the tippet. Sometimes it’s under the water, but most often I still see it. It’s an excellent addition.
Beyond the sighter is the water. And although we look deep below, the surface is the first stop. Judge the speed of the top water. And read the waves. Where are the peaks and valleys of the current? The rise and fall of the waves, especially in pocket water, mirrors the structure at the bottom of the river. Big rocks make big peaks on the surface, and if they’re big enough, the current breaks or swirls.
By reading the surface, beyond the sighter, you can estimate the nuances of the water where your nymphs are swimming — down at the bottom. Gather that data, and you’ll better understand what your next move should be. Lead the nymphs faster? Let them drop for a moment and settle into a bucket? Read the surface to discover the answer.
Everything under the surface may seem like the unknown, but good polarized lenses and some river sense allow the depths to open up to an experienced angler.
See into the water. Look below. Imagine the nymph on the bottom. Believe where it is, and direct it to the far side of a rock. Then expect the nymph to settle into a slight stall just behind that rock. See the subtle flash of golden brown and know that a trout has taken the nymph. By looking past the sighter, searching deep into the water for clues and signals, you will see strikes that are never apparent otherwise.
Why limit yourself by watching only the sighter? Take your eyes off it for a moment and notice how well you can still see the bright color. It’s still there, in your vision, even without being the focus. Look for other clues beyond the sighter and trust the river. Trust yourself. Read the water and set the hook.
Fish hard, friends.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N