PODCAST: Bad Habits That Hurt — S9, Ep9

by | Dec 17, 2023 | 26 comments

 The Troutbitten Podcast is available everywhere that you listen to your podcasts.

** Note **  The Podcast Player, along with links to your favorite players is below.

We’re here to talk about bad habits — things that aren’t personal style but just bad form. These are bad habits that come with a consequence. These are, quite simply, mistakes. And in every case, there’s a much better way to do things.

We meet anglers from all over the country and the world, we often see these bad habits from good anglers. And inevitably, these are some of the key things that hold people back from going further — from catching more trout.

These are deal breakers —  bad habits that come with consequences, and habits that, once changed, open up new avenues and better opportunities.

Our intention here is to be helpful and not critical. We want to point out some of the worst habits that we see most often — the mistakes that a lot of good anglers still make and that hold them back. And these are mistakes — it’s almost right and wrong.

I always say there are no experts in fly fishing. So we are not experts. But all of us here are experienced. In fact, we’re experienced enough to have gone through many of these bad habits on our own and have corrected them. Our goal is to share a few of these habits and highlight what might go unnoticed by a pretty wide segment of our friends.


READ: Troutbitten | All the Things
PODCAST: Troutbitten | The Inefficiencies that Waste Your Fishing Time – S3,Ep2
READ: Troutbitten | How Many Effective Fishing Minutes?

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Domenick Swentosky


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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.

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  1. Another bad habit: You are still using the Clinch knot. Seriously?
    It’s the “tricycle” of fishing knots that many experienced fly fishers just can’t quit.

    There is an underlying bad habit: “Stuck in your personal ruts” while ignorant of or simply ignoring better options (failure to evolve as an angler).

    • Hi Rick,

      I don’t think using the Clinch Knot is a deal breaker. It’s a fine knot that gets the job done, and I don’t think it costs people trout in the net or ends up in lost time or a bad experience. Essentially, the Clinch Knot isn’t holding anyone back. This podcast isn’t about our own preferences. It’s about those big things that are really consequential — almost right and wrong.


  2. Hi Dom,
    Many Anglers set too hard or too soft when setting a hook. Need to talk about that a little more on your podcast. Another problem with switching hands after a cast is you can drop your rod in the water during the transfer. That can be a disaster when fishing Tailwater’s out of a boat. A new fly rod.The dominate hand should always be holding the fly rod with the non-dominate hand performing line management duties.

    A suggestion for you guys. Put together a podcast talking about how much an angler actually spends with their fly in the strike zone. Based on my own surveys an angler fly or flies spend about fifteen to eighteen minutes out of an hour in the strike zone. As you know just because your fly is in the water doesn’t mean they are in the strike zone. Other tasks leading up to putting your flies in the strike zone take up a lot of time for most anglers. That time can be vastly increased as they become more efficient in all facets of fly fishing.

    • I’ll admit I’m guilty of this. It’s come about because as a little kid, the spin rod my parents bought me had the handle on the right. It was really common on the big store rod and reel combos in the 80s and 90s.

      A couple of times I’ve had a determination to change and just get used to reeling with the left, but it honestly lost me fish before I got used to it, so I’ve switched back each time. Hand on heart, I’ve never lost a fish to switching hands to wind the reel, whether fly fishing or gear fishing. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it works for me and doesn’t hold me back in any way.

      • Hey, this reply ended up in the wrong spot! Sorry about that

  3. The other reason for wearing glasses. To protect your eyes. You’ve got hooks and little balls of lead flying around. Casts don’t always go where you want them to. Having glasses also protects your eyes from tree branches when you’re bushwhacking. Finally, polarised glasses protect your eyes from UV rays, which, my optometrist keeps reminding me, are really bad for your eyes.

  4. I read somewhere that switching your handing to reel in, is from Bamboo days, those rods being heavier,and the hand or arm might get tired so you switch to non dominant hand to hold the rod, and reel in with the dominant hand. (As I type this it makes no sense to me.) There is a couple w/a U Tube channel that switch hands to reel in and than cast with same hand.

    Happy holidays/tight lines

  5. 10 % of humans are right handed.

  6. Great pod. Thanks fellas.

    I am guilty of making a few of these mistakes most days I am on the water. It’s good to hear it discussed. There are days on the water that I am lazy. This cast reminds me to continue to work on my deficiencies.

    If you ever do a night fishing version of this discussion I would appreciate it. I could use a good kick in the ass.

  7. Another superb podcast, guys. You’ve hit on almost all of the bad habits I see in others, not to mention myself.

    One that I would add is the question, “What are they taking?” asked of someone who is catching a lot of fish. Almost always, the correct question is, “What technique is working?” The habit of thinking that the fly, not the drift, is what matters slows the growth curve of a lot of fishermen.

    • You may be overlooking the fact that the person asking has been observing your technique; watching you carefully as you hook and land a number of trout. They can easily discern how you are fishing: casting dry flies up and across to risers; prospecting with a dry-dropper rig in the soft seams; swinging small wet flies in the riffs; indicator fishing with multiple nymphs or tightlining a single nymph on a mono rig; or bombing the bank with streamers. And when someone can observe the technique, the only piece of information missing is the specific fly size/style/pattern that is working. On my home waters, fly patterns and technique are inextricably linked; with the fly/pattern being of prime importance when fish are surface feeding. I would never tell someone who asked that I was, “dead drifting a dry fly” – heck they just watched me doing just that. They want to know that a size 18 olive emerger is what’s working; and that’s why they’re asking. Experience anglers sometimes forget just how challenging, confusing, and frustrating our sport it can be for those with little experience.

  8. The switching hands thing is really popular with bass fishermen. They do it primarily with bait casting reels. I have had more than one argument with a guy who worked for me about this topic. There is no reasoning with these people. They are simply insane.

    • I hear this a lot too. But it’s a bad comparison. With gear fishing, there is not line management issue similar to fly fishing. Make a cast with a spinning rod and the line is on the reel, ready to crank. Make a cast with a fly rod, and some line is often off the reel and in the line hand. We crank the spinning reel to recover slack, but we strip fly line. That alone is the fundamental difference and why this comparison doesn’t hold up.

      • I totally agree. I am just wondering if some people that do it with a fly rod have a bass fishing background.

        In either scenario it seems sub optimal to me. It’s not a good technique with spinning gear. There are a lot of instances where a bass or whatever game fish you are chasing will strike the moment the lure touches the water. In those instances you are going to miss fish if you are passing the rod from one hand to the other.

        Some people are just stubborn.

        • Just an irrelevant thought on bait casting reels: when most people shift hands, the casting hand is still on the grip and when the off hand grasps the rod (above the reel, the casting hand has only to shift slightly to reach the handle and retrieve line. This can be done smoothly so that there is no loss of rod control.
          Quite a while ago, I reels with cranks on the left (off) side of the reel came out, but didn’t catch on.
          Over the years I’ve only seen one guy using one, and he was a lefty, using it left handed (casting left handed and shifting to hold the rod in his right hand and reeling with his left!

  9. You guys have been so helpful to me, trying to learn nymphing. Especially the one on bad habits and the one on when it isn’t working. And you have answered a couple of questions I asked There’s lotsI still don’t know, but I don’t have any particular
    Question Right now.
    I surely will later.
    Thank you

  10. Great podcast, thanks for doing these! The bad habit of reeling and casting with your dominant hand is not uncommon in saltwater flyfishing. There is a good reason for this. When fighting a large bonefish, tarpon, GT etc you will be on the reel very soon and it may take 15 to 45 minutes or more to land that fish. Combine that with throwing cast after cast 50 to 60 feet or more and your casting and fighting arm is going to get very tired if it is the same. Using your dominant hand to reel while using the other to fight the fish gives your casting arm a break. I agree not really necessary for freshwater but not a bad habit if you’re primarily a saltwater angler.

    Love the podcast

  11. I love listening to you guys – but the switching hands thing, I’m not sure that I agree. I don’t do it because it does not feel natural. But I would suggest that there are a lot of very good anglers that switch hands and have no trouble with it at all. Tom Rosenbauer comes to mind. As an angler he could be defined in many ways – but I don’t think lazy is one of them. I have no idea why Tom chooses to fish that way – but I doubt it’s out of laziness.

    • That’s okay! We don’t need agreement. If you are to read this through, I wrote a full article on this topic after the podcast, because, yes, I know people don’t agree.


      I actually addressed the fact that some well known and some very accomplished anglers have this habit. I do think it’s a lazy habit. I think, while someone was learning fly fishing skills for trout, they didn’t realize the importance of using both hands, or they never took the time to get comfortable with what is the best form. In that article you’ll read my analogy to playing baseball. You need two hands.

      I’m also still looking for someone who can give me a reason why it a BETTER way to do things. All I ever hear is how is doesn’t hurt that much. I contend that casting and reeling with the same hand for trout is a bad habit that hurts. Much more in that article though.

      Thanks for listening.

    • On the Orvis podcast recently, he said that it was because he is “strongly right handed”


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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.

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