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When you work the Pusher, imagine the wings flexing and pulsing as you hand twist retrieve and pulse the rod tip on a three count. See the fly in your mind’s eye and make it come alive in the dark. Then hold on tight . . .
Fishing captivates us because it provides two of the three things we need to be happy — something to work on and something to look forward to. What’s the third key to happiness? Someone to love. And for the angler, we’d be wise to choose someone who loves us back, enough to care about and listen to our fishing stories.
I’m thankful for all of this . . .
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 . . .
Every angler draws their own lines for what fly fishing is. And this episode is not just for talking through what fly fishing might be and where each of us might draw the lines. Instead, we’d like to acknowledge the absurdity of the lines themselves — the decisions we make about what is fly fishing and what is not . . .
How many times have I assumed that no trout would eat, when all I needed was a different target? How many trout did I pass earlier this morning because I was complacent about my drifts? “Good enough” was my mindset. “Close enough” were my terms, but the trout were on a different page . . .
And then . . . the line . . . broke. Silence filled the valley when echoes of his exasperation finished the chorus.
The fisherman’s hands were wet and shaking as he doubled over. He surrendered to the surface fog and knelt from the heavy punch to his gut.
The Troutbitten Summer Sale ’23 is here, with all leaders, hats and stickers back in the Troutbitten Shop. With this round, I have a few special items to offer, from the Troutbitten and New Trail Brewing company collaboration. There’s a Fish Hard / Drink Beer hat, sticker and t-shirt. The Troutbitten Shop is fully stocked. Hats, leaders, stickers, shirts, hoodies and more are ready to go.
A dead drift is the most common goal for a nymph, but there are three distinct ways to achieve it: bottom bouncing, strike zone rides and tracking the flies.
Each of these tactics simulates something that a trout sees every day. And each can fairly be described as a dead drift. But often, just one of these presentations is the most agreeable approach to the trout. All of them can look like a natural dead drift . . .
Some anglers seem resigned to the notion that more flies, split shot or drop shot inevitably bring more tangles. But multiple nymphs on one rig won’t tangle if the cast is right and the rigging is solid.
There are three questions that lead you to solving all your nymphing problems. If you’re struggling, if you’re wondering if the empty net is your fault, ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly.
Is everything in one seam? Do I have to be this far away? Is my fly deep enough for long enough?
Assuming that a dead drift is the goal for your nymph, answering these three questions leads you to correcting your own mistakes . . .
If there’s one thing in nymph fishing that gets far too much credit, it’s the induced take, in all forms. From Frank Sawyer’s slight movement up and out of a pure dead drift, to the Leisenring lift, nymphing anglers everywhere are enamored with ways to twitch, jig, swing and lift the nymph.
An excellent dead drift is your baseline presentation. The induced take is a variation. And do not forget that a good induced take begins with a great dead drift. That is what is so often missed . . .
Slipping contact is the intermixing of influence and autonomy. Take the fly somewhere — help it glide along. Then surrender it to the current, and let the river make the decisions. Slip in and out, and find the balance between influence and independence to the fly . . .
Keep moving. That’s the key to streamer fishing. And moving downstream with the currents makes it possible for hours at a time. Wade down and fish up . . .
Troutbitten leaders are back in the Shop. There are some unique features to Troutbitten leaders that make a big difference. These are hand tied leaders in four varieties: Harvey Dry Leader, Standard Mono Rig, Thin Mono Rig, and Micro-Thin Mono Rig. Standard Sighters are also available, and they include a Backing Barrel. The Full Mono Rig Kit contains each of the three Mono Rig leaders, three foam spools and a twenty-inch Rio Bi-Color extension.
All Troutbitten leaders come on a three-inch spool, making long leader changes a breeze . . .
In this episode, we discuss the head orientation of the streamer in the water — how the streamer moves with the currents or against them, and what looks more natural vs what might look more attractive.
We also dig into what added weight does to the head of a streamer, how that affects the action and how that limits or enhances the presentation styles that we have available . . .
ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE
I think every angler has some gear obsession. It’s part of us. Because fishing is the kind of activity that requires a lot of stuff. Big things and small. Clothing and boots, packs and boxes, lines and tools — and all the stuff that non-fishers never imagine when they think of a fishing pole. So it’s understandable that we pack our gear bags with stuff we know we need and then add in everything we think we might need. Time on the water is limited, and we want to feel prepared.
But nothing signals rookie more than a clean fisherman . . .
Backed comfortably into a corner and sitting contently beside a crackling fireplace is the old expert. For sixty of his seventy-plus years, roaming the woods and water, he has fished for trout — fifty of those years with a fly rod, and thirty more dedicated to sharing his vast, accumulated knowledge.
The old expert helped shape an industry, but he remembers a time when there was no fly fishing industry — no fly shops or umbrella companies in a niche market, a time when a breathable raincoat meant unzipping at the collar and loosening the drawstrings of a yellow vinyl hood.
The old expert reminisces about flies purchased through a mail order catalog. Some were also selected from a cedar box, separated into four-inch-square bins inside a gas station that sold a handful of wet flies and two dries — one dark, one light, both #10 . . .
. . . “Great. I have some ideas on how to make your fly better,” Bruce said flatly.
That stung a little too. What improvements are needed? I wondered while Bruce stashed my beloved streamer into his fly box. I watched until the end, until the shadow of the closing lid engulfed the mallard flank, and the glint from the copper conehead was no more. Farewell, good friend.
Seven days later, Bruce sent me photos of his “improved” version, noting that he’d substituted white for tan marabou, changed the collar dubbing to something “with necessary flash,” and added opal tinsel to the tail. “The fly just looks bare without it,” Bruce assured me. Accompanying the pics and descriptions of what he changed, Bruce ended with the following: “This spruced up fly gets a lot more attention!!”
Now how the hell does he know that, I wondered. It’s only been a week . . .
Every fisherman in the parking lot seems to have a thirty-inch fish story, don’t they?
You know what I hear when someone says a fish was “about two feet long?” I hear: “I didn’t measure the fish.”
Bass guys don’t put up with this stuff. My friend, Sawyer (a dedicated bass and musky guy), is dumbfounded by the cavalier way trout fishermen throw estimates around. In his world, if you didn’t measure it, you don’t put a number on it. They take it seriously. We trout fishermen embarrass ourselves with estimates.
The last ten feet can be the hardest. So, get the fish upstream, lift on a direction change, keep the head up, and spread your wings. When it’s close enough for the net, those are the keys to landing the biggest trout of your life . . .
Side pressure pulls the trout from its lane. While the fish faces the current and tries to hold a seam, side pressure moves that trout from its comfort zone and forces it to work against the force of our bent fly rod — all while keeping the trout low. And while we never want to play a trout to exhaustion, the art of a good trout fight is in taking them to the point where we have more control over their body than they do.
My friends join me for an honest discussion about the trout we pursue. All of us fish for every kind of trout on the list: wild trout, stocked trout, holdovers, fingerlings and club trout. And all of these trout hold value — but not equally. There are major differences in the types of trout we catch, and stocked fish are often nothing like their wild counterparts . . .
My night fishing friends, Josh and Trevor join me for a fun and detailed discussion about mouse emergers. This style is about taking the benefits of a top water pattern at night and making it a little harder for the trout to resist. Then, sometimes, we fish similar patterns that remain in the first 3-12 inches of the water column. My friends and I also trade night fishing stories about the scariest and most unusual things that happen while fly fishing after dark.
Lifting the rod slightly, I shake the rod tip left and right. Easy, rhythmically, I wiggle the tip and feel the line wave as I see it dance and glow in the dark. The fly shimmies and sends a pattern of waves through the surface and beyond, calling to any trout within who-knows-how-far.
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