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Ambition is the fundamental characteristic of every good night fisher. We wade into the darkness for the experience. And we quickly realize that the night game is an unwritten book, with just a few clues and an infinite room for learning new things. Each exhilarating hit and every trout in the net is a unique reward, because night fishing requires that you assemble the puzzle yourself.
In this episode, I’m joined by my friends, Trevor Smith and Josh Darling, for an overview on night fishing for trout . . .
Reviving a trout was once taught as part of the routine. But we don’t hear that so much anymore. Because the idea of playing a trout to the point of exhaustion, so much that you have to help it regain balance and breath, is mostly a thing of the past. And that’s a good thing . . .
Gaining the bottom, feeling that contact with the riverbed and then gliding over it, tap, ta-tap, tap-a-tap, maybe five to ten times throughout the drift is success. But I’ve noticed that anglers tend to get complacent. Tickling the bottom is only half of the job. And that’s not good enough. We still need to find the right speed for a drift and keep everything in one seam.
Drop shotting puts the angler in ultimate control. Be aware of every element of the drift, and make good choices, because all of them are yours. Control is the advantage of a drop shot rig. Remember this always — your rod tip controls everything . . .
There is tranquility and stillness here — a place to do nothing but think. And that alone is valuable. Because there aren’t many places like this left in the world . . .
Fishing the summer months is a protracted game of hide and seek, where more often, the angler loses. Every condition favors the trout.
It’s August, and we need rain again. The rivers have taken on a familiar, thirsty look — deep in the heart of summer. Water trickles through the pockets. It sinks into dry rocks like a sponge. We see the skeleton of an ecosystem. And the distilled, clear flow is low enough to reveal the watershed’s deepest secrets. Wading these wet trails requires composure and patience . . .
The lost friendship transforms a river bend — that one with the ancient and hollowed-out sycamore — into an active tombstone. The towering tree with the undercut bank becomes a place to remember shared moments of casting into cool waters, where the ghosts of laughter and fond companionship persists.
By mixing jigging into our streamer presentations, we add a new dynamic. We no longer just slide and glide, cross currents and hover. Now we dip and rise, dive and climb through the column. It’s another dimension to be explored. Offer it to the trout, and let them decide.
You do not need a jig hook to jig streamers. Can you jig a big articulated fly? Absolutely. And while the up and down motion may not be as pronounced as a smaller, thinner, head-heavy fly, jigging works with big and bulky flies too.
Unlocking this knowledge — understanding the strike zone — and then finding it and drifting your flies there, is perhaps the most pivotal moment in your nymphing skills progression. It changes everything.
Most of what happens in a river occurs in the strike zone. It’s where the trout spent most of their time. It’s where the bugs and baitfish live. And understanding everything about the strike zone allows us to know exactly how and where we want to present the nymph . . .
Rolling the bottom, gliding mid-current along a knee-deep riffle and slow-sliding off the bank — these maneuvers are just as enticing and catch just as many trout as do flashy retrieves. But we tend to forget them. Or rather, we might not have the discipline to stay with an understated look for very long, because the modest stuff isn’t as exciting as the razzle-dazzle.
This handful of subtle moves requires an angler with restraint and commitment. Otherwise, the rod tip and line hand are back to big motions and brash, bold movements in no time . . .
The next time your beautiful dead drifts are ignored in the strike zone, consider getting dirtier. Sure, you’ll stick some rocks and tree parts down there. You’ll lose more flies and waste more time retrieving snags. But you may quickly find more trout in the net too. Live on the bottom for a while, and see what happens . . .
Extra thin leaders can be a great tool for the tight line nymphing angler. Sag, power, sensitivity, accuracy, and versatility. These are the elements to consider.
Here’s an in-depth look at some nymphing challenges and how extra thin leaders meet or miss the objectives . . .
I’ve received countless questions about my thoughts regarding euro lines and mono rigs. And while this is also one of the most common questions I’ve fielded through the years, it has a complex answer that I’ve never tackled in an article. So let’s fix that.
Here are my thoughts on euro nymphing lines vs a Mono Rig. These views address all seasons, all distances and many variations . . .
Multi-fly rigs are nothing new. We pair one nymph with another all the time. Many of us fish two streamers, and most of us cast a dry fly with a nymph for the dropper once in awhile. But the pairing of a streamer and a nymph is less common. And maybe that’s because the typical presentations for each fly type are quite different — we tend to think we’re either streamer fishing or nymph fishing, but rarely both at the same time.
The Big Rig combines two nymphs and a streamer. With some minor leader adjustments and some outside-the-box thinking on tactics, you can kinda have it all . . .
So why do we use a Mono Rig over fly line? What’s the advantage?
Just like a tight line nymph rig, we gain more control over the presentation of the flies, and we have better contact throughout the cast and the drift. With fly line in the game, we cast and manage the fly line itself. With the Mono Rig, we cast and manage the streamers more directly.
With the Mono Rig, we can stay tight to the streamer after the cast, we can dead drift it with precision for the first five feet, keeping all the leader off the water. Then we might activate the streamer with some jigs and pops for the next ten feet of the drift. And for the last twenty feet, as the streamer finishes out below and across from us, we may employ long strips. All these options are open . . .
The modern streamer approach asks trout to get up and chase something down, to kill it and eat it, while the old school streamer game presents an easily available chunk of protein to the trout. It doesn’t ask the fish to chase very much. In essence, old school streamers come to the trout, and modern streamers flee from the trout . . .
ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE
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My home-water is not full of big fish. Burke likes to call it fishing for midgets. Is that politically incorrect? OK then; it's usually a matter of fishing for little fish. However, this evening we caught a larger one -- easily my fish of the year on this water....
One of these days I'm going to file an amazing night fishing report . . . I started about an hour before dark, and action was crazy good on nymphs. Basically, I was Frank Nale-ing it, but just imagine what I could have done with a gold bead white spinner. Right before...
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