Search Month: December 2019

Where to find Big Trout | Part Four: The Permanent Structure

Rivers are built from just a few parts. While the sand and soil of a streambed is fluid, the framework — the shape of a river — is directed by roots and rocks. Time and the tenacity of flowing water changes the shape of the hardest rocks, eventually carving granite into a new form, eroding and molding a riverbank toward a new course. And while nothing is eternal in a river or its floodplain, there’s enough permanent structure in a stream — the immovable objects — that good trout take notice. So does the big fish hunter . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #18 — Imagine a Target — Fish to the Fish

You can roam the river, mending, drifting and stripping, casting into every corner pocket and straight channel. You have the skills to present the fly, the consummate awareness of currents and flows and the stamina to wade rough water for hours on end. But can you imagine a target? Can you picture a trout feeding in the hydraulic swirl behind an unseen chunk of bedrock on the river bottom? Can you believe the trout is there? . . .

The capacity to imagine a trout in the river is a next-level skill that’s only earned by thoughtful time on the water . . .

You Are Troutbitten

The whole thing started with four fishermen and a long email chain. That quickly became unwieldy, so Sloop and I set up a private message board for our small group of Pennsylvania anglers and titled it, Troutbitten. Each of us invited close friends — trusted fishermen — the kind of guys who could keep a secret, even after a few beers. And for a short while, a small, core group of guys called Troutbitten fished hard and shared their discoveries with one another . . .

Quick Tips: See beyond the sighter

New to tight lining? Then staring at the bright piece of colored line is a good place to start. But as soon as 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 colored 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 . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #18 — Imagine a Target — Fish to the Fish

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #18 — Imagine a Target — Fish to the Fish

You can roam the river, mending, drifting and stripping, casting into every corner pocket and straight channel. You have the skills to present the fly, the consummate awareness of currents and flows and the stamina to wade rough water for hours on end. But can you imagine a target? Can you picture a trout feeding in the hydraulic swirl behind an unseen chunk of bedrock on the river bottom? Can you believe the trout is there? . . .

The capacity to imagine a trout in the river is a next-level skill that’s only earned by thoughtful time on the water . . .

You Are Troutbitten

You Are Troutbitten

The whole thing started with four fishermen and a long email chain. That quickly became unwieldy, so Sloop and I set up a private message board for our small group of Pennsylvania anglers and titled it, Troutbitten. Each of us invited close friends — trusted fishermen — the kind of guys who could keep a secret, even after a few beers. And for a short while, a small, core group of guys called Troutbitten fished hard and shared their discoveries with one another . . .

Quick Tips: See beyond the sighter

Quick Tips: See beyond the sighter

New to tight lining? Then staring at the bright piece of colored line is a good place to start. But as soon as 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 colored 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 . . .

The Sweet Ride

The Sweet Ride

There’s a sweet spot to every drift. For each swing of a wet fly, strip of a streamer or drift of a dry, there’s a range — a distance — where the fly looks its best. This is the moment where the fur and feathers tied to a hook are most convincing or most natural. It’s when the fly is really fishing and not just dragging through the water. Good anglers recognize this sweet spot of the drift. They maximize its length. They position themselves in the river to control it with their rod tip or with slack line. And they set it all up to happen over the best trout in the river . . .

We’re looking for the best part of what happens after a cast. We’re searching for the sweet ride. And we’re trying to make it last as long as possible . . .

The Troutbitten Shop Launches: Tees, Hoodies, Hats, Stickers and Canvas Prints

The Troutbitten Shop Launches: Tees, Hoodies, Hats, Stickers and Canvas Prints

Today marks the completion of a significant Troutbitten project. After a full year in development, the Troutbitten Shop has launched. For sure, this is the conclusion of one phase and the beginning of another, as I’ll continue to add designs and products for the shop in the coming seasons.

The Troutbitten Shop starts with tees, hoodies, hats, stickers and canvas prints. These items feature logos and original designs, artfully printed on high end materials. I took no shortcuts.

Troutbitten has grown from the seeds of your support. Troutbitten readers have made all of this possible, and I’m thankful to be part of a community of anglers who live a life on the water.

I invite you to look around the shop a bit. I’m proud of what is here, and I’m excited for the future.

Here’s a quick rundown of the shop parts . . .

Quick Tips — Hook set at the end of every drift

Quick Tips — Hook set at the end of every drift

I watched the line, waiting for some indication of a strike and intently expecting a fish to eat the nymph. Then at the end of the drift I looked away, scanning for my next target upstream. When I lifted the line for the backcast, I was surprised to find a trout on the line. He bounced off quickly because I never got good hook set.

That’s happened to you a hundred times too, right?

Nymphing is an art of the unseen, and no matter the material attachments we add to the line for visual aid of a strike, trout take our flies without us knowing about it — probably way more often than we can imagine.

That’s why it’s best to end every underwater drift with a hook set. Do this with nymphs and with streamers, at the end of every dead drift presentation, and you’ll find unexpected trout attached to your line. The short set also prepares the line and leader for your next backcast. Here’s how . . .

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Bob’s Fly Casting Wisdom

Bob’s Fly Casting Wisdom

In my early twenties I drove a delivery van for a printing company while finishing the last few semesters of my English degree. Life was pretty easy back then, and I spent much of my leisure time playing guitar and fishing small backcountry streams for wild trout. It was a tight-quarters casting game. And making the transition from the five-foot spinning rod of my youth to a much longer fly rod gave me some trouble. Until, that is, I received one of the simplest and most transformative pieces of fly fishing advice . . .

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Nymphing: The Top Down Approach

Nymphing: The Top Down Approach

The biggest misconception in nymphing is that our flies should bump along the bottom. Get it down where the trout are, they say. Bounce the nymph along the riverbed, because that’s the only way to catch trout. We’re told to feel the nymph tick, tick, tick across the rocks, and then set the hook when a trout eats. With apologies to all who have uttered these sentiments and given them useless ink, that is pure bullshit.

. . . Here’s how and why to avoid the bottom, fish more effectively and catch more trout with a top down approach . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #35 — How to Fish With Friends

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #35 — How to Fish With Friends

Fishing with a stick and line is a solitary endeavor by nature. It always comes down to the two hands of one angler: one on the rod, and the other in control of the line. Sharing the water with friends is great, but fishing, inherently, is not a team sport. It’s more like pole vaulting than a baseball game. It comes down to individual performance. And at its root, fishing is just a contest between one man and a fish.

. . . But we fish together to share our experiences, to learn from one another, to catch up with old friends and make new ones. We choose to fish together because the bonds formed on a river are like none other, and because flowing water and shared moments can heal friendships and mend grievances . . .

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Coffee and Secrets

Coffee and Secrets

I wasn’t quite sure why I’d asked the kid if he fished in the first place. But there was something about him that compelled me to share. And here I was, about to give up a guarded secret.

“Do you have a piece of paper back there?” I asked. “I’ll show you something . . .”

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Stick the Landing While Tight Lining

Stick the Landing While Tight Lining

. . . Think of it like this: Tight line anglers should stick the landing at the end of the cast. Only the line that must enter the water should go under, while everything else remains above the surface and in the air. The leader should be tight, from the water’s surface to the rod tip, in a leading angle almost immediately. Stick the landing! Learn what angle the sighter eventually takes through the drift, and that’s the angle you should start with . . .

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