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100 Day Gear Review: Smith Creek Rod Rack (with VIDEO)

100 Day Gear Review: Smith Creek Rod Rack (with VIDEO)

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.

Where to Find Big Trout | Part Three: The Special Buckets

Where to Find Big Trout | Part Three: The Special Buckets

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 . . .

STORIES

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 . . .

Last Cast

Last Cast

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 . . .

What to Trust

What to Trust

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 . . .

TACTICS

NYMPHING

Why and When | Drop Shot Nymphing on a Tight Line Rig — Pt.2

Why and When | Drop Shot Nymphing on a Tight Line Rig — Pt.2

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. . . .

The Hop Mend (with VIDEO)

The Hop Mend (with VIDEO)

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 . . .

STREAMERS

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 . . .

Leaders in the Troutbitten Shop

Leaders in the Troutbitten Shop

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.

Design and Function of the Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig (*UPDATED*)

Design and Function of the Troutbitten Standard Mono Rig (*UPDATED*)

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

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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