Enjoy the Day
Troutbitten is built on words. These ideas, these stories, tips and tactics are the roots of a tree that has grown branches.
Troutbitten reads more like a book than a blog. So settle in and find something to read.
Find the category links at the top of every article and the tags at the bottom, because those lead to the archive pages for the topic.
Also within these articles, all text in orange leads to supporting content. Finally, use the search page to find what interests you most.
Thank you for your support through the years.
Transporting a fly rod is not as straightforward as it may seem. But it can be. For many of us, our preference to keep the fly rod rigged and ready to fish presents some challenges.
For years now, the Smith Creek Rod Rack has been my perfect solution. The Rock Rack stores up to seven rods inside the vehicle, keeping them secure and away from passengers — from kids, dogs or mishaps. Attachment is easy, the design is smart and the Smith Creek build is solid.
With tight line dry dropper, we get the contact and control of a tight line nymphing rig and the excitement of a dry fly rig. It’s very different than the other styles of dry dropper because it’s built on a Mono Rig. And the catch rate, for where this rig applies, is often doubled or even tripled.
Somewhere in your favorite stretch of a river there’s a depression at the bottom. It’s wide enough and long enough to hold a trout, nose to tail. It’s as deep as the trout is tall — or a bit deeper. The river flowing over this depression in the riverbed is fast enough to bring a continuing buffet of food. And the water comes with the right shade, ripple or depth to offer good protection. This is a special bucket. Let’s break it down . . .
Lessons like these linger, and they have an impact. His was a message not to fear the winter, but to respect it, to venture forth but to prepare for the unexpected. Seek adventure, with provision as your companion.
Most of Dad’s lessons were ingrained that way. And, years later, when fishing became a life for me, I saw no reason why snowy roads or ice in the rod guides should keep me from fishing . . .
The light of the last day of the year began to fade, and I reminisced a bit. It’s been an incredible year for me, full of life lessons that I probably needed to work on for some time now.
Here’s to living the next year vividly . . .
Of the good fishermen I know, one thing I see in all of them is how easily they can reach conclusions about fish habits. They have a knack for knowing what to trust and when to trust it.
The damned thing about a river is that it changes every day, and the habits of trout follow. If you’re observant enough to see the dynamics of a river, you can predict how the fish will respond, just by correlating their behavior patterns with the changes in water level, clarity, food availability, etc. Often, though, that’s a big leap to take. And it requires trusting in your observations enough to act decisively on them . . .
Convinced or curious? Sometimes, it’s that intersection of the two states that elicits the irresistible urge from a fish. And trout eating on the drop is one of those times. . . .
You need the right tools, the right shot and the right methods for using all of it. None of this is complicated, but simplicity in fishing is often elusive, until time on the water eventually reveals what is best. Honestly, I believe there’s no better way to carry and use split shot than what is shown here . . .
“Your first job is to find some accuracy. You’ll see the fly every time, once you can hit your targets.” I nodded at the fly again. “There’s enough visibility built into that fly that you can find it quickly, as long as the fly lands where you’re looking . . .”
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 . . .
Drop shot nymphing on a tight line system puts the angler in control of every part of the drift. By using the riverbed as a reference, you then choose the speed, level and lane-travel of the flies.
That control is a double-edged sword. While the benefits of contact and control are infinite, there is a downside — you must get everything just right. Ultimate control is a big responsibility. And in many ways, it’s easier to choose a pair of light nymphs with no shot and simply track the nymph’s progress downstream, letting the river make all the important decisions.
Learning and refining that presentation is a daily challenge. . . .
We mend to prevent tension on the dry fly or the indicator. All flies could drift drag free in the current if not for tension from the attached leader. So it’s our job to eliminate or at least limit that tension on the tippet and to the fly.
This Hop Mend is an arch. It’s a steep and quick half-oval. It’s a fast motion up, over and down with the fly rod. It’s powerful and swift, but not overdone . . .
I first picked up fly fishing as a teenager, and I vividly remember the confusion. With time, I learned to cast the weight of the line rather than the weight of the lure, but I didn’t know what to do with the line after the cast. Sure, I learned about mending, but that never seemed to solve the problems at hand. Enter, tight lining concepts . . .
Troutbitten leaders are now available in the Troutbitten Shop. 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.
All Troutbitten leaders come on a three-inch spool, making long leader changes a breeze.
Here, finally, is a full breakdown on the design of my favorite leader. It’s built for versatility without compromising presentation. It’s a hybrid system with an answer for everything, ready for fishing nymphs on both a tight line and under an indy. It fishes streamers large and small, with every presentation style. It’s ready for dry dropper, wet flies, and it even casts single dry flies. All of these styles benefit greatly with a tight line advantage.
Anglers in contact are anglers in control. It’s fun and effective, because we know where the flies are, and we choose where they go next . . .
ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE
I’m consistently surprised by the lack of river sense that’s missing in so many anglers. I mean that literally and not condescendingly. Just as a city kid marvels at the sight of deep darkness on a moonless night, fifty miles deep into a state forest, the country boy doesn’t give it a second thought. It’s experience. And that’s all it is.
People who are new to fishing just don’t know much about rivers. And I never really get used to that. Because so much of what a river does, and what fish do in response, is organic to me. I grew up fishing and playing in small streams. As a kid, I was drawn to every runoff ditch within walking or biking distance. I couldn’t stay away. And like anything else, you grow into your surroundings. I don’t think that can be changed, whether we’d like it to be or not.
Anyway, those without that same history with rivers see the water differently, and sometimes I have trouble remembering it.
On a cool April morning, Sam and I hit the water with all his new gear . . .
I could barely make out the shape of a man fishing through the fog. A dense cloud hung over the water that morning, wrapping everything in a white shroud, and I felt water enter my lungs with every breath. Eventually, the rising sun punched holes through the white sheet, further decreasing visibility with mirrored reflections. Then within the next half hour, solar warmth provided enough heat to turn the big cloud into vapor. And as the fog dissipated over the river, Mike’s thin form came into view.
He moved like a machine in rhythm. He zigged and zagged across the pocket water, casting and catching, netting and releasing one trout after another. The machine paused to catch its breath only when Mike spent thirty seconds tying a knot. From my perspective downstream, it was perfection . . .
For many years, I believed that it takes nothing special to catch a big trout. I argued with friends about this over beers, during baseball games, on drives to the river and through text messages at 1:00 am. My contention was always that big trout don’t require anything extraordinary to seal the deal. They need a quality drift, a good presentation, and if they are hungry they will eat it. I frequently pushed back against the notion that big wild trout were caught only with exceptional skill.
So for all who’ve heard me make this argument, I’d like to offer this revision: I still believe that large trout don’t need more than a good presentation. But what is GOOD may actually be pretty special. Meaning, it’s rare to find the skill level necessary to consistently get good drifts and put them over trout (large or small).
Here’s more . . .
Rivers are built from just a few parts. While the sand and soil of a streambed is fluid, the framework — the shape of a river — is directed by roots and rocks. Time and the tenacity of flowing water changes the shape of the hardest rocks, eventually carving granite into a new form, eroding and molding a riverbank toward a new course. And while nothing is eternal in a river or its floodplain, there’s enough permanent structure in a stream — the immovable objects — that good trout take notice. So does the big fish hunter . . .
It takes about five minutes to feel the flex of a rod and learn the breaking strength of our chosen tippet. And a simple experiment is all that’s needed. Once you’ve tested both the tippet and the rod’s strength, a new confidence follows. Then, when the fish of your dreams shows up, you are ready.
When you know the maximum pressure available from your fly rod and tippet , you can put more pressure on a trout and bring him in quickly . . .
It took me seasons of trial and error to understand this truth: On some rivers — especially those with larger trout — much of the water after dark is a dead zone. Nothing happens, no matter what flies or tactics you throw at them. Drift or swing big flies or small ones. Hit the banks with a mouse or swing the flats with Harvey Pushers. It doesn’t matter. On most rivers that I night fish, there are long stretches of water that simply won’t produce.
But in these same waters, there are sweet spots to be found — places where the action is almost predictable (by night-fishing standards), where two, three or four fish may hit in the same spot. And then just twenty yards downstream . . . nothing . . .
I finally have an honest understanding about what draws me into night fishing. Yes, it’s the fear. And of the serious night anglers I’ve known, it’s the same for all of us. Fear is the crackling spark plug . . .
. . . But Smith had also drawn out of me one thing that I’d never fully put into words before explaining it to him. Namely, that contact is felt as much as it’s seen. While tight line nymphing, I’d told Smith, an advanced angler can feel contact with the nymph on the rod tip. Essentially, you could very well fish with your eyes closed. And because Smith was skeptical, I’d suggested some after-dark tight line nymphing as a way to prove to my friend that he could feel that contact just as well as anyone . . .
With over 900 articles on Troubitten, there’s much more to explore than what you see above.
Use the site menu to navigate through articles collected in series. Click the categories and tags to find the archives pages for each topic.
Everything in orange, sitewide, is a link to more supporting content.
And use the search page to find what you’re looking for.
Also Subscribe to Troutbitten and follow along. (Yes, it’s free.)