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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 . . .
Standard Dry Dropper is the industry standard for a reason. Because it’s what you get when you simply add a nymph on behind the dry fly. Sometimes, that pairing is perfect, and with a good cast and even better mending skills, this standard setup catches trout all day long.
It’s a useful style that solves a lot of problems. Especially if you surrender to the idea that the nymph is the primary fly being fished . . .
The pre-cast is a simple motion that lifts some (or all) of the fly line off the water and gets the leader moving. It’s an elegant solution to a common problem.
When the dry fly drift is over, simply activate the line and get it moving before starting the backcast. The motion of the pre-cast pickup breaks the hold of surface tension. And that’s the key. Once the surface lets go of the line, it is easily lifted off the water with minimal disturbance . . .
You’re alone, and it’s still not enough. You can feel the pressure of communities, of people and things. It’s coming from behind. You want to feel lonesome again. So you walk.
This place is yours again, if just for a while . . .
You’d walk twice as far if it got you here every time . . .
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.
With the river at its peak, Dad and I spent a drizzly day with no one in sight at any hour, early or late. Alone together against the odds, we landed the occasional fish purely by accident. Yes, we targeted the backwaters. Sure, we fished deer hair sculpins, worm patterns and chartreuse things. But such are the measures suggested by those who peddle wishful thinking more than experience. Nothing was consistent in those roiling waters.
Regardless, Dad and I fished. And we hoped. We were waiting on luck . . .
There are stages. There are tools. There are systems for being versatile on the water. And there’s a time for all of it.
Pursuing this kind of versatility also keeps us in the game for a lifetime. We are forever working on the next idea, refining new casts and another approach. Eventually, we develop such a facility with these skills that we begin to combine them, breaking free from the common and standard approach and landing on new ways to get a dead drift or move a streamer. Creation becomes the goal. Design becomes our drive. And experimentation leads to more answers that lead to more questions . . .
Turnover is the fundamental difference between spin casting and fly casting. And all good fly casts, with fly line or otherwise, allow the line/leader to turnover in the air and then hit the water. That’s the difference between casting and lobbing. Without good turnover, we are simply lobbing the line.
Remember this: lobbing is limiting. And a good casting approach, with great turnover, introduces a wide range of options . . .
Ambition is the fundamental characteristic of every good night fisher. We wade into the darkness for the experience. And we quickly realize that the night game is an unwritten book, with just a few clues and an infinite room for learning new things. Each exhilarating hit and every trout in the net is a unique reward, because night fishing requires that you assemble the puzzle yourself.
In this episode, I’m joined by my friends, Trevor Smith and Josh Darling, for an overview on night fishing for trout . . .
As the years pass, I’ve found a few refinements, I’ve learned a few advantages that lead me toward drop shot as the solution for more on-stream problems. It’s a tactic that has its place alongside all the other ways that I like to drift nymphs. Because the principles of dead drifting a nymph usually come down to imitating a natural drift as close as possible, but the methods for doing so are remarkably varied.
Every river scenario has a solution. And quite often, drop shotting is the perfect answer.
It’s not red anymore. It’s burgundy, but it “might” be red again someday. I’ve been alive long enough to know that when something you love leaves, it’s best to start moving on. And yes, I’m a leader junkie . . .
There’s a talent for combining all the essential techniques. Stitching them together seamlessly and flowing from one to the next takes a certain aptitude, and some intention.
Refine one through nine. Then time and again, you’ll see what you want to see. You’ll put it together. And you’ll say with confidence, “Now that was a great drift.”
The Troutbitten video series, Streamers on the Mono Rig continues with Episode Two, covering the unique possibilities and the demands of casting.
Fishing streamers on the Mono Rig offers anglers ultimate control over the direction and action of their flies — all the way through the drift. And while small streamers may need nothing more than a nymphing-style cast, mid-sized and full-sized streamers require a few changes in casting to get the most from the technique . . .
Want to get deep? Want to be sure the fly is low enough? Try the Touch and Go.
Sometimes, I don’t drift or strip the streamer all the way through. Instead, I plot a course for the fly, looking through the water while reading the river’s structure. And I look for an appropriate landing zone for the Touch and Go . . .
In collaboration with Wilds Media, the long-awaited Troutbitten video series featuring Streamers on the Mono Rig begins today.
Episode One is an overview of the tactics and an exploration of what is possible when fishing streamers with tight line tactics. The video also covers the Troutbitten Mono Rig and the functions of its three main components.
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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 . . .
“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.” That’s from Robert M. Pirsig. And man, does it ever apply to finding big trout.
Just downstream of a run, right where it blends into what can fairly be called a flat or a pool . . . is the spillout.
I suppose you can point to a spillout every time a run dumps into the neighboring pool. The feature is always at the transition. But for our purposes — for seeking out big trout — only a small percentage of these spillouts are good targets. So let’s talk about that . . .
It does not take exceptional technique or skill to catch big trout. It takes an understanding of where they are and what they eat. It requires some forethought and persistence.
. . .Ninety percent of what you hear about most rivers is probably bullshit. Explore and learn these places for yourself. Try to forget the rumors. Discover the truth.
. . .Now I go to certain water types and river structures to target big fish. Every watershed that harbors the big ones has a few of these locations. It’s up to you to find them and fish them well . . .
You have no business night fishing an area that you can’t visualize.
Close your eyes. Now imagine the spot you plan to night fish. Think about the first cast. Where are the rocks, tree limbs and logs? How much of the gravel bar is exposed at this water level? How swift does the current break around the undercut bank? If you guessed at any of these things, if you were uncertain at any pass, then you will struggle at night.
Questions and uncertainties are amplified after dark. So I go into my night fishing hours with a plan — much more than any day trip. The program might change if the light, water or feeding conditions suggest a new strategy. But having an outline holds me together on a dark river . . .
It’s important to have a mental picture, to feel where you are among the surroundings, so the casts are accurate and the drifts are effective. Otherwise, you’re just flailing around in the dark, hoping for some good luck . . .
The response of a trophy trout hooked in the daylight may seem predictable after a while — we expect him to head for deep water, or toward the undercut. But big trout after dark are never predictable. And they give you everything they have — right now.
I lost many good trout early on because I wasn’t ready for all this. I wasn’t prepared for the eruption happening just ten feet in front of me. I let them run when I should have held on and tightened the drag. And I kept my feet stuck in the sand instead of chasing them. I can take you to each river and point to the spots where I lost one of these legendary fish. The errors were mine. It’s a fisherman’s memory. We all have it.
And I lost trophy fish at night because I was playing around with light tackle. Once hooked in the dark, trout are unpredictable. They pull hard, and we have to be ready to pull harder . . .
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