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Smith and the Tree

Smith and the Tree

Right on time, Smith’s signature worn-out ball cap crested the hill on the north side of the gravel pull off. When his full frame came into view, I motioned to the propane grill and smiled with a nod. It was preheated. Resting on a large chunk of limestone, I had the portable grill ready for meat. When Smith approached, I handed my friend a beer without a word. Glass chimed and we nodded again.

This is what I like about Smith: We planned for noon, and he’s so reliable that I knew it was worth lighting the propane at 11:50 . . .

STORIES

Three Inches Makes the Difference

Three Inches Makes the Difference

How many times have I assumed that no trout would eat, when all I needed was a different target? How many trout did I pass earlier this morning because I was complacent about my drifts? “Good enough” was my mindset. “Close enough” were my terms, but the trout were on a different page . . .

TACTICS

VIDEO: Wading Belt Carrying System

VIDEO: Wading Belt Carrying System

How can we keep our stuff with us, make it easily accessible and not be slowed down or fatigued by extra weight? Answer: Carry the heavy things on your hips.

Most anglers focus on whether to choose a chest pack, vest, sling pack, hip pack, lanyard or something else. We think of carrying fly boxes, tippet, leaders and other incidentals. But what about the net? What about water, a wading staff, a camera or anything else with extra weight? Carrying these items should not be a secondary consideration. As the heaviest things among your gear, how you carry them is of primary importance.

The heavy stuff is best carried on your hips, so the most critical part of your carrying system is probably the wading belt. And most wading belts are not up to the task.

Forgiving Flies

Forgiving Flies

This is one of the most amazing times to be on the water. Fishing through a snowstorm rekindles memories, ingrained from the novelty of tracking flies and fly line through the optical mystery of falling snow.

. . . This morning, I’m leaning on my favorite set of forgiving flies — just a handful of patterns I’ve noticed that our notoriously picky trout are more willing to move for and eat. These are patterns that draw attention and perhaps curiosity, but also don’t cause many refusals.

NYMPHING

PODCAST: Critical Nymphing Concepts #5 — Weight: The Fundamental Factor — S10, Ep5

PODCAST: Critical Nymphing Concepts #5 — Weight: The Fundamental Factor — S10, Ep5

Once you leave the water’s surface, weight is necessary for the presentation. Here’s what weights to choose, for nymphing, why and when. You can’t avoid it. Weight is the fundamental factor. Meaning, it’s probably more important than the fly itself. More weight or less is more consequential than what dubbing, feather or ribbing is wound around the hook shank.

We use all types of weight, and there are good reasons for all of these: tungsten beads, split shot and drop shot . . .

STREAMERS

Leaders, Hats, Stickers Back in the Troutbitten Shop (Spring Sale ’23)

Leaders, Hats, Stickers Back in the Troutbitten Shop (Spring Sale ’23)

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 Streamer Head Flip VIDEO

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.

ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE

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

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 . . .

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 . . .

NIGHT FISHING

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 . . .

Night Fishing for Trout: Know your water, and make a plan

Night Fishing for Trout: Know your water, and make a plan

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 . . .

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