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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #26 — The Art of Hanging Out

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #26 — The Art of Hanging Out

Sure, looking around once in while and studying the river will improve your catch rate; you’ll build knowledge about a trout stream by just watching, there’s no doubt. But breathing deep and relaxing into the beauty of a trout stream (and they’re all beautiful) is good for the soul too.

Five Keys to Reading the Sighter (with VIDEO)

Five Keys to Reading the Sighter (with VIDEO)

Control. Options. Precision. These are the most attractive aspects of fishing a tight line system, and the sighter is the key to it all.

A sighter is more than a strike indicator. It also shows depth, angle, speed and contact. It points to our flies and takes away the guesswork. For an angler who learns to read all of this on the sighter, that colored line above the water provides a most significant advantage to the underwater game . . .

STORIES

Everything Has a Flip Side

Everything Has a Flip Side

What do you believe in? What can you fish hard enough and long enough to effectively convince a sluggish trout that it’s hungry? That’s the fisherman’s confidence. And it beats out the hatch chart, the guide’s advice and last week’s river stories every time . . .

Fish It Anyway

Fish It Anyway

And from somewhere subconscious, a part of me made the choice . . .

“I’m gonna stay on till dark,” I told Smith. “I tied on a dry-dropper, and I’ll cover the edges.”

I watched Smith walk toward home, toward the rest of life, into the lights, into the warmth, into the friendships. I stayed with the river and remained alone — pensive in the rain, resolute in the wind.

Winter Pregame

Winter Pregame

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 . . .

TACTICS

Fly Distance — What You’re Missing by Following FIPS Competition Rules — Part Three

Fly Distance — What You’re Missing by Following FIPS Competition Rules — Part Three

Fly distance restrictions unnecessarily limit the common angler from taking full advantage of tight line systems. If you choose to fish under FIPS rules, do so by choice, with your eyes wide open and for good reason. Take a fresh look at why you are choosing your flies, your leaders, your fly rods and your tactics. And be sure that you’ve thought through both the benefits and the consequences inherent.

Roll Your Eggs — Tips For Nymphing With Egg Patterns

Roll Your Eggs — Tips For Nymphing With Egg Patterns

Eggs drift slowly. They roll over the rocks with a neutral buoyancy of sorts, ready to rest and settle on the rocks, but easily transported by whatever currents pick them up . . .

Playing it safe will have you cautiously trying to keep your egg pattern from sticking and hanging up. And you might get really good at bringing that little morsel through the strike zone, without touching and snagging up at all. But you won’t catch trout . . .

(VIDEO) The Tight Line Advantage for Nymphs, Indicators, Streamers and Dry Dropper

(VIDEO) The Tight Line Advantage for Nymphs, Indicators, Streamers and Dry Dropper

For effective, convincing underwater presentations of flies to a trout, the tight line advantage is the cornerstone concept. Nothing else is more important.

Because a river is composed of changing and moving seams, defeating that unwanted drag is the nymph angler’s ongoing battle. How do we defeat that drag? With the tight line advantage. Watch this video to see it in action.

NYMPHING

(VIDEO) The Tight Line Advantage for Nymphs, Indicators, Streamers and Dry Dropper

(VIDEO) The Tight Line Advantage for Nymphs, Indicators, Streamers and Dry Dropper

For effective, convincing underwater presentations of flies to a trout, the tight line advantage is the cornerstone concept. Nothing else is more important.

Because a river is composed of changing and moving seams, defeating that unwanted drag is the nymph angler’s ongoing battle. How do we defeat that drag? With the tight line advantage. Watch this video to see it in action.

STREAMERS

Don’t Guess — Set the Hook and Set Hard

Don’t Guess — Set the Hook and Set Hard

Here’s what I see: Too much guessing. Too much assuming that it’s not a trout rather than assuming that it is. So don’t guess. Set the hook. And set it hard.

If you’re trying to get long drifts, change that. If you’re trying to guess what’s a rock and what’s a trout, change that. If you’re trying to lift the nymph off a rock, and then you realize it was fish — bump buh-bump and gone — change that. I suggest a fundamental shift in your approach . . .

Leaders Relaunch in the Troutbitten Shop

Leaders Relaunch in the Troutbitten Shop

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 . . .

The Tight Line Advantage Across Fly Fishing Styles

The Tight Line Advantage Across Fly Fishing Styles

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 . . .

ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE

Angler Types in Profile: Goldilocks

Angler Types in Profile: Goldilocks

On the sweetheart days, the Goldilocks angler is there. Any other time? This morning? Not so much.

It seems that some fly fishermen are constantly looking for reasons not to fish. Provide them with a logical reason to stay home, and they will — and they’ll feel good about it.

Angler Types in Profile: The Rookie

Angler Types in Profile: The Rookie

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 . . .

Angler Types in Profile: The Numbers Guy

Angler Types in Profile: The Numbers Guy

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 . . .

BIG TROUT

What does it take to catch a big trout?

What does it take to catch a big trout?

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 . . .

Where to find Big Trout | Part Four: The Permanent Structure

Where to find Big Trout | Part Four: The Permanent Structure

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 . . .

Fighting Big Fish — How Strong Are Your Tools?

Fighting Big Fish — How Strong Are Your Tools?

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 . . .

NIGHT FISHING

Night Fishing for Trout — Location, Location, Location

Night Fishing for Trout — Location, Location, Location

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 . . .

Tight Line Nymphing — Contact Can Be Felt at the Rod Tip

Tight Line Nymphing — Contact Can Be Felt at the Rod Tip

. . . 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 . . .

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