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Nobody home means there’s no trout in the slot you were fishing. And sometimes that’s true. Nobody hungry suggests that a trout might be in the slot but he either isn’t eating, isn’t buying what you’re selling, or he doesn’t like the way you are selling it.
Does it matter? It sure does!
The performance between Hi-Vis monofilaments varies widely. Here are the properties I want most, and here are my favorite lines.
There are many options for hi-vis mono, but my preferences are specific. And for so long, I couldn’t find anything that checked all the boxes . . . until now.
After months of work and preparation, I’m pleased to announce the launch of Troutbitten One-On-One Virtual Skills Sessions. This latest arm of the Troutbitten Project allows for greater connection with more anglers, readers, listeners and viewers than ever before.
These one-on-one skills sessions are held in our Troutbitten online studio, where we record the Troutbitten Podcast. Conversations are tailored to fit your interests, your questions and curiosities. These sessions are recorded (for your use only), and afterward, you’ll receive a video of our meeting, along with notes and links to more Troutbitten resources to help you keep learning.
Nothing opens the aperture of life better than time away from your daily routine. Vacations are an intermission between acts, providing time to stretch your legs, consider what you’ve seen and prepare for what’s to come.
. . . This past week in saltwater provided that intermission and granted me perspective at just the right time.
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 . . .
This is one of the most amazing times to be on the water. Fishing through a snowstorm rekindles memories, ingrained from the novelty of tracking flies and fly line through the optical mystery of falling snow.
. . . This morning, I’m leaning on my favorite set of forgiving flies — just a handful of patterns I’ve noticed that our notoriously picky trout are more willing to move for and eat. These are patterns that draw attention and perhaps curiosity, but also don’t cause many refusals.
Knowing sizes, weights, diameters and distances improves our effectiveness dramatically. And ignoring these details is a little like a painter not knowing their colors or a photographer not knowing their shutter speeds. So how do we easily measure distance on the water?
The tracer streamer keeps the visuals in your streamer game and catches a few trout while doing so. But getting the most of a two-streamer system requires a little forethought . . .
Once you leave the water’s surface, weight is necessary for the presentation. Here’s what weights to choose, for nymphing, why and when. You can’t avoid it. Weight is the fundamental factor. Meaning, it’s probably more important than the fly itself. More weight or less is more consequential than what dubbing, feather or ribbing is wound around the hook shank.
We use all types of weight, and there are good reasons for all of these: tungsten beads, split shot and drop shot . . .
I use euro nymphing often, but won’t be limited to it. And I don’t like the term because of the limitations associated with it.
That said, I don’t think we can change it. Just like the rest of language, we are stuck within a framework for communicating that precedes us. We can only do our best to define and work through this system accurately . . .
This episode features what might be the most important concept of nymph fishing. There are three different ways to present a dead drifted nymph to the trout — three ways to imitate what trout commonly see from the naturals.
“Let them eat it. Don’t take it away from them.” I’ve burned that simple message in my brain. For many years, I focused obsessively on the motion I would give to a streamer, I now focus equally on where and when I will pause it.
Attract them with motion. Then let them eat it. Streamer fishing for trout really is that simple. But the variations within the framework are where artistry arises . . .
Streamer anglers will tell you that most of their hits happen within the first few seconds or strips. Trout see the fly enter, and their decision whether to attack, chase or ignore your fly is often determined by your first move after entry.
. . . Trout don’t miss much in their field of vision, and they surely notice anything the size of a streamer landing in their zone. Therefore, what that fly does next either entices, dissuades or spooks the fish . . .
The sinking line does a few presentations very well. And a tight line streamer rig can do many things well. While the sinking line approach gains me more distance and longer retrieves, the tight line system is great for a targeted approach, with more casting and shorter retrieves.
Tight line systems provide direct contact and direct control, where sinking line systems put a weighted fly line in between me and the streamer. Two different styles.
There are many things to consider, but start with this: What is the water type? And what are your goals?
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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