Fly Fishing Tips: #54 — Don’t let a good bite teach bad habits

by | May 26, 2019 | 2 comments

Fly fishing provides so much variety in presenting flies to a trout that a good and well-rounded fly angler can make something happen, even on the slowest days — usually. And so, we spend our time on the water learning and refining these various techniques with dry flies, nymphs, streamers and wets, waiting for the trout to turn on, but fishing always with persistence and hope flung into each cast.

I’ve been around enough long-term fishermen to understand one primary character trait — we all approach the water with an effort to learn. That’s what keeps things fresh year after year. That’s what keeps a man fishing from childhood to the grave. It’s not the trout, but the process of discovery, the perfection of tactics that will never be good enough to make a sure thing out of a day on the river.

Every angler finds moments when the fishing is easy, when seemingly any decent presentation of the fly brings a fish to hand. Even the most difficult rivers give up a good bite once in a while. And the easiest rivers, with eager trout, produce great bite windows that last for hours or even days. But what should we learn from that?

Whatever turns fish on as a group is another matter, and it’s one of fishing’s great mysteries. Trout following the emergence of mayflies to the surface is an obvious trigger. But why do I so often catch nothing for an hour and then catch a dozen in the next thirty minutes? Why, when I meet up with Smith at lunchtime, does he tell the same story about a good bite that happened between ten and eleven-o-clock (the same as mine)? Whatever the reason, sometimes the fishing is a hell of a lot easier than other times.

READ: Troutbitten | Finding Bite Windows — Fishing through them and fishing around them

And good anglers must recognize these windows for what they are — a time when trout are simply more willing and more eager to take a fly. The point is, catching a bunch of trout may not be a signal that your tactics are perfect. And as we learn new things on a fly rod, it’s important to take encouragement from each catch — from each trout fooled. But it’s just as important to recognize the times we caught trout just because the fishing was easy for a while.

I’ve discovered more about my own failings and  refined more in my own presentation on the slow days — times when I had to work hard for every take, when the trout forced me into perfect presentations because they refused multiple strategies until I found the right combination of fly and tactic to solve a puzzle.

Photo by Austin Dando

Beyond the bite windows, some rivers give up fish more easily. Hatchery trout are far less demanding than wild trout. Some western rivers with bitter winters have trout that are eager to feed when the water is prime — with just a few short months to pack on the pounds. Other rivers, like my own home streams, harbor trout that feed year round, in spring water that rarely freezes in the winter or warms in the summer. So the trout’s habit is to feed more selectively, demanding that the fly is a most convincing representation of the natural.

So when the bite is on, enjoy it. But don’t assume that your presentation is perfect for the next day, the next river or the next season. Rather, continue to observe your own casts and drifts with discrimination. Find your flaws. Fix them. And don’t let a good bite teach you bad habits.

Fish hard, friends.

 

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

Fly Shop Fluorocarbon too expensive? Try InvizX

Fly Shop Fluorocarbon too expensive? Try InvizX

Seaguar Invizx has become my go to fluorocarbon tippet material, and some of my Troutbitten friends do the same. It’s thin, strong and flexible with excellent handling and flex. Invizx is as good as some fly shop brands and better than many others. And because the type of tippet we use is not what catches trout, I don’t overspend on tippet . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve

Dry Fly Fishing — The Forehand and Backhand Curve

Learning to use the natural curve that’s present in every cast produces better drag free drifts than does a straight line.

It takes proficiency on both the forehand and backhand.

I’ve seen some anglers resist casting backhand, just because it’s uncomfortable at first. But, by avoiding the backhand, half of the delivery options are gone. So, open up the angles, understand the natural curve and get better drag free drifts on the dry fly . . .

Stabilize the Fly Rod with the Forearm

Stabilize the Fly Rod with the Forearm

A steady and balanced sighter is important from the beginning, because effective tight line drifts are short. But there’s one overlooked way to stabilize the sighter immediately — tuck the rod butt into the forearm.

Here’s how and why . . .

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Tracking the Flies

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Tracking the Flies

Regardless of the leader choice, angle of delivery, or distance in the cast, every tight liner must choose whether to lead, track or guide the flies downstream. So the question here is how do you fish these rigs, not how they are put together.

Good tracking is about letting the flies be more affected by the current than our tippet. Instead of bossing the flies around and leading them downstream, we simply track their progress in the water.

Tracking is the counterpoint to leading. Instead of controlling the speed and position of the nymphs through the drift, we let the flies find their own way . . .

Thoughts on Rod Tip Recovery

Thoughts on Rod Tip Recovery

Rod tip recovery is the defining characteristic of a quality fly rod versus a mediocre one.

Cast the rod and watch it flex. Now see how long it takes for the rod tip to stop shaking. Watch for a complete stop, all the way to a standstill — not just the big motions, but the minor shuddering at the end too.

Good rods recover quickly. They may be fast or slow. They may be built for power or subtly, but they recover quickly. They return to their original form in short order.

Here’s why . . .

A Simple Slidable Foam Pinch-On Indy

A Simple Slidable Foam Pinch-On Indy

One of the joys of fly fishing is problem solving. There are so many tools available, with seemingly infinite tactics to discover, it seems like any difficult situation on the water can be solved. Perhaps it can. For those anglers who search for answers in tough moments, the prospect of solving a puzzle builds lasting hope into every cast. And after seasons on the water, the game becomes not how many trout we can catch, but how many ways those trout can be caught. Then, when presented with conditions that chase fair-weather fishers off the water, we rise to the moment with a tested solution, perfectly adapted and suited for the variables at hand.

There is not one way. There are a hundred ways. And the best anglers are prepared with all of them.

One of them is the slidable foam pinch on indy . . .

What do you think?

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

2 Comments

  1. First I like to thank all of our veterans for their sacrifice and service to our country. Today on the East Branch of the Delaware the browns and bows demanded a good drift. The thread frenchie with no hot spot, just the black nail polish wing case put 3 browns and 2 acrobatic bows in the net. Fish ranged between 14”and 20”. I only fished 5 hours today. The hot bite window was from 11am to 1pm. Wish I could’ve stayed all day. Dam ! Lol

    Reply
  2. I think you highlighted the most frustrating scenario for people that are new to the sport. You go out to a pool and whack them really good one evening, return the next and the difference is startling. I’ve been A-B testing a lot of pools recently to try to get a fix on my good vs lucky proportions. Only determination I’ve made is, I’d rather be lucky…

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest