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PODCAST: What to Love About Small Stream Fishing — S7, Ep6
We fish small streams for the adventure, for the exploration and the experience. We fish smalls streams in search of wild trout in wild places. And we fish small streams because the challenges of fly fishing these waters teaches us everything we ever need to know about fishing bigger rivers . . .
Q&A: Active Drifting vs Dead Drifting
Do we ever animate the fly during the drift? Sure, but at that point it’s no longer a dead drift. Activating the fly out of a dead drift often turns the trick . . .
PODCAST: Good Wading, Better Fishing — How Wading Skills Change Everything — S7, Ep5
As wading anglers, we must wade efficiently. And good wading skills change the game like nothing else. When you are comfortable and confident in the water — when you can easily move from place to place, the river opens up in a whole new way . . .
Who Knows Better Than You?
Anglers cling to the stories and accounts others. We believe in the experts. We want masters of this craft to exist and to tell us the answers.
Sure, you might have a group of wild trout dialed in for the better part of a season. Maybe it’s a midge hatch every summer morning, or a streamer bite on fall evenings, for one hour on either side of dusk.
But it will end. That’s what’s so special about chasing trout. Like the wings of a mayfly spinner, predictability is a fading ghost . . .
Lessons from the Salt (2022) — Strike Zones, Sensitivity and Persistence
The churning waves, the cuts, troughs and sandbars of beach water mimic the flows of a good river that is full of structure. And tearing apart the differences to find the similarities between the two water systems is a challenge that’s renewed with each trip to the salt . . .
The Hard Truth About Why You Can’t See Your Dry Fly
“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 . . .”
If You Can’t Fish Dry Flies, You’re Missing the Point
The fundamental kernel of fly fishing lies in the angler’s ability to cast and manipulate line, leader and tippet, to send not just a fly to the target, but to also control what that fly is attached to, both in the cast and throughout the drift. This is what separates fly fishing from conventional tackle. And nothing teaches or trains an angler better in this concept, revealing the options inherent, better than fishing dry flies . . .
The Streamer Head Flip VIDEO
My favorite streamer presentation and my best trick for convincing trout to eat a streamer now has a companion video.
The head flip helps seal the deal on tough trout that won’t commit, and it’s a great look for almost any streamer — big, small, heavy or light. It’s a presentation that I use every day, because it works in so many situations.
Q&A: Blind Striking
I don’t guess, because I might ruin my best chance. I also do everything I can to be in contact or just slightly out of contact with the nymph, whether that’s on a tight line to my rod tip or under an indicator. And I trust my skills this way, more than I trust my instinct to set on nothing . . .
Troutbitten Fly Box — The Craft Fur Jig and The Craft Fur Streamer (with VIDEO)
Some flies do one thing really well. Other flies are your workhorse on the water, lending solutions to river problems by being adaptable. These are the flies we reach for over and over. These are the flies we tie first and keep well stocked. This is the Craft Fur . . .
Let’s Stop Kidding Ourselves — The Bead on a Hook Challenge
Testing rigs and flies on the water is fun. It provides the next reason to get back out there, and it center-focuses us on something new. Testing also takes the pressure off. You’re not out there to catch every trout. You’re out there to experiment — to investigate and assess results against a theory.
Do trout eat the bead-on-a-hook better than a nymph with dubbing or micro-tubing behind it? Maybe . . .
Mysteries, Mistakes and Misunderstandings | Drop Shot Nymphing on a Tight Line Rig — Pt.6
Too heavy, clumsy casting and tangles. None of this is true. Drop shot on a tight line is a finesse approach when set up right and fished well.
This article covers strike detection, feel, frequency of bottom contact, weight mistakes, lazy fishing, casting errors and more.
Eating On The Drop — How and Why Trout Eat a Falling Fly
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. . . .
Streamer Presentations — Jigging the Streamer
By mixing jigging into our streamer presentations, we add a new dynamic. We no longer just slide and glide, cross currents and hover. Now we dip and rise, dive and climb through the column. It’s another dimension to be explored. Offer it to the trout, and let them decide.
You do not need a jig hook to jig streamers. Can you jig a big articulated fly? Absolutely. And while the up and down motion may not be as pronounced as a smaller, thinner, head-heavy fly, jigging works with big and bulky flies too.
Streamer Presentations — Glides and Slides
Rolling the bottom, gliding mid-current along a knee-deep riffle and slow-sliding off the bank — these maneuvers are just as enticing and catch just as many trout as do flashy retrieves. But we tend to forget them. Or rather, we might not have the discipline to stay with an understated look for very long, because the modest stuff isn’t as exciting as the razzle-dazzle.
This handful of subtle moves requires an angler with restraint and commitment. Otherwise, the rod tip and line hand are back to big motions and brash, bold movements in no time . . .
ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE
Angler Types in Profile: The I’ve been doing that forever guy
Fly fishing is full of it — full of anglers who take themselves too seriously, and full of others who support it. Everyone knows everything . . .
So as fly fishing churns out newish concepts like articulated streamers and euro nymphing, it’s no wonder there’s some resistance to it all. No wonder at every turn we find guys with arms folded, shaking their heads and saying, “Nah, I’ve been doing that forever. . .”
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
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 . . .
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
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?
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 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 . . .
Night Fishing for Trout — Fight or Flight
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 . . .
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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