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This is the episode you’ve all been waiting for. Tonight, we talk about fishing the top water. And yes, that means mouse patterns — sometimes. We also dig into a fly style that we feel is often more effective, the mouse emerger concept at night. And we talk about fishing streamers after dark . . .
There are a lot of ways to retrieve a long fly after the cast. And that’s really what’s so much fun about the streamer game. Fly anglers might spend hours fretting over the imperfection of a drag free drift on a dry fly or twice as long considering the depth and drift of a nymph, but when the streamer is tied on, it’s a chance to let loose. Nothing else in fly fishing allows for such freedom of presentation. “Everything works sometimes.” No other fly type fits that tenant so well.
But what will trout respond to most? That’s the question. And on many days — most perhaps — the answer is a cross-current strip. Here’s why . . .
Where are the trout, and how are they feeding?
Building flexibility into our plans helps solve these questions. It’s our willingness to adapt, to walk around the bend, to work upstream instead of down or to clip off the top water pattern and rig up for wet flies — that’s what helps answer questions and put trout in the net.
Success in fly fishing really comes down to one or two things. It’s a few key principles repeated over and over, across styles, across water types and across continents. The same stuff catches trout everywhere. And one of those things . . . is contact.
. . . No matter what adaptations are made to the rig at hand, the game is about being in touch with the fly. And in some rivers, contact continues by touching the bottom with something, whether that be a fly or a split shot. Without contact, none of this works. Contact is the tangible component between success and failure.
Understanding the ideas of other anglers through the decades is how I learn. It’s how we all learn. The names change, but the process remains. We build a framework from others. Then we fit together the pieces of who we are as an angler . . .
Every angler goes fishing to get away from things — and most times that means getting away from people too. So whether they be friends or strangers on the water, going around the bend and walking off gives you back what you were probably looking for in the first place . . .
Testing rigs and flies on the water is fun. It provides the next reason to get back out there, and it center-focuses us on something new. Testing also takes the pressure off. You’re not out there to catch every trout. You’re out there to experiment — to investigate and assess results against a theory.
Do trout eat the bead-on-a-hook better than a nymph with dubbing or micro-tubing behind it? Maybe . . .
Too heavy, clumsy casting and tangles. None of this is true. Drop shot on a tight line is a finesse approach when set up right and fished well.
This article covers strike detection, feel, frequency of bottom contact, weight mistakes, lazy fishing, casting errors and more.
No matter what we’re into, there’s a time when the learning of skills reaches a critical mass, when it’s time to do rather than read more about it and buy more gear.
. . .There’s a time for learning. There’s time for preparation. And then there’s time for doing — for putting all of it into practice, making the casts, covering water and catching fish . . .
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 are plenty of ways to build a drop shot rig. This one is built for finesse. Rarely is much weight required, because the rest of the leader is literally designed for getting the flies down — to allow light weights to fall quickly . . .
The weight is at the heart of drop shot nymphing. Putting that weight at the end of the line is what makes it unique. And using the right kind of weight makes it pretty special.
You want streamlined? You want dense, concentrated weight in a package with no material resistance? You want pure efficiency in a weight form? Drop shot is your answer . . .
. . . The crossover is a targeted approach to fishing streamers. Instead of spraying casts and hoping, we bring the streamer right to the trout, with control.
. . . If you’re experienced with streamers — if you’ve spent a lot of time chucking meat — it will take discipline to perform the crossover correctly. Refrain from stripping, jerking and reverting back to the more common retrieves. Our average motions with streamers are usually large. We move the fly fast and far. Again, think small. Imagine a dying or disoriented baitfish bumbling along the riverbed and trying to get its bearings. Move your streamer that way.
. . . With the crossover style, I work the streamer through river lanes while focusing on structure: rocks, logs, gravel bars or color changes in the riverbed. All of these are excellent targets, and the animations available with the crossover style are a perfect way to maximize the fly’s time in these hot zones . . .
. . . Remember that Mark taught me to keep the streamer moving downstream at one pace, without pause. Now think about the way you fish a streamer. You strip it, right? Strip, strip, jerk, strip, strip, jig, strip.
And at the end of every strip, there’s a pause when you let go of the line and re-grasp it further ahead (preparing for the next strip). That pause, and the look that it gives the streamer, is completely different than what Mark showed me at fourteen years old.
Like anything else in fishing, you can get the tactic pretty close and have some success, or you can dig deep into the details, refine it and triple your production . . .
Tom and I talked about streamers, mostly — about how fast the industry has moved into what I think of as the modern streamer code. And about how, in my mind, I juxtapose that with an old-school streamer style that (maybe) a lot of anglers have forgotten about . . .
ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE
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My story, Thirty-Inch Liars, is over at Hatch Magazine today. Here are a few excerpts..... -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- ... I once read through a publication that printed, "Thirty-inch wild trout are common in this stretch of water." Now, I don't care what river in...
. . .I’ve gone through a couple phases of trophy hunting, but I’m always careful to return to my roots before the obsession overtakes me. I don’t want to lose my enjoyment for the simple things on the water: the friendships, the forests, the mountains, the mysteries and the way thick, cool moss on limestone feels like a sofa cushion for a mid-stream lunch. Those are the good things that are available every time I put on my waders, even though the big fish usually aren’t.
While going in and out of these phases of trophy hunting for wild browns, I’ve learned that I was looking for big trout in the wrong places. I had to seek out new rivers. And sometimes, I simply had to find new places on my old rivers. Point is, I learned that trophy hunters need a target. It’s not enough to go to the same places and fish the same ways as you always have. You have to learn where the big fish are, go there, and put on your patience pants — because Whiskeys don’t come easily . . .
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....
Friday night I wrapped up my gig at the Phyrst with my buddy Noah, then made the transformation from musician to fisherman again. I've done this a bunch of times now, and the thorough contrast in venues is remarkable: from the noise and chaos of the State College bar...
I decided to fish close to home and in a section that rolls through a small neighborhood. No, it's more like a series of cabins. It was an odd choice. A great choice during the day, but at night I always try to stay away from light sources because I've learned that...
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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