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The Big Rig: The Two Plus One — Two Nymphs and a Streamer

The Big Rig: The Two Plus One — Two Nymphs and a Streamer

Multi-fly rigs are nothing new. We pair one nymph with another all the time. Many of us fish two streamers, and most of us cast a dry fly with a nymph for the dropper once in awhile. But the pairing of a streamer and a nymph is less common. And maybe that’s because the typical presentations for each fly type are quite different — we tend to think we’re either streamer fishing or nymph fishing, but rarely both at the same time.

The Big Rig combines two nymphs and a streamer. With some minor leader adjustments and some outside-the-box thinking on tactics, you can kinda have it all . . .

Fishing Alone

Fishing Alone

Fishing alone always granted me the serenity of simple thoughts, a soul laid bare to the open wilderness and a peace of mind. Then usually, that’s where I left it — somewhere alongside the rocks and flowing water . . .

Hook Sets Are Not Free

Hook Sets Are Not Free

Mike had landed on a common phrase that usually triggers a response from me. It’s one of the myths of fly fishing, and it carries too much consequence to let it go. Hook sets are not free. There’s a price to pay. Oftentimes that cost is built into our success. And other times, the costs of too frequently setting the hook pile up, stealing away our limited opportunities . . .

STORIES

Thirty-Inch Liars

Thirty-Inch Liars

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.

Waiting On Luck

Waiting On Luck

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 . . .

Fishing With Kids — The Independence Marker

Fishing With Kids — The Independence Marker

At thirteen years old, he has enough experience with the woods and water that I don’t think twice about dropping him off to fish for the evening, awaiting his call when he’s either fished out or it’s getting dark. When I pick him up, he’s full of excitement and stories, or he is calm and peaceful in a way that I don’t often see him. I let him be, in those times, and allow the experience for him to soak in, as he processes a return to the world after a long outing. Leaving the water to rejoin life is sometimes a hard turn.

Kids soak in the rhythms of nature. And later in life, maybe around twelve years old, that base of experience pays off . . .

TACTICS

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Let It Drop and Then Help It Drift

Tight Line and Euro Nymphing: Let It Drop and Then Help It Drift

We’ve let the fly drop on a free fall, now we help it drift by leading it. Stop its progress downward (don’t let it drop anymore), and guide it downstream. Help it drift.

Remember two things that a nymph should do when it hits the water, and separate them into two actions with your fly rod. Let it drop and then help it drift. That’s great fishing . . .

(VIDEO) Three Great Ways to Create Tag Droppers

(VIDEO) Three Great Ways to Create Tag Droppers

With three good solutions for creating tag droppers, there’s a method for every moment. And by getting each of these under your fingers, by practicing them and being comfortable, you’ll find uses for all of these methods as you work up a river.

NYMPHING

Casting and Drifting | Drop Shot Nymphing on a Tight Line Rig — Pt.5

Casting and Drifting | Drop Shot Nymphing on a Tight Line Rig — Pt.5

Gaining the bottom, feeling that contact with the riverbed and then gliding over it, tap, ta-tap, tap-a-tap, maybe five to ten times throughout the drift is success. But I’ve noticed that anglers tend to get complacent. Tickling the bottom is only half of the job. And that’s not good enough. We still need to find the right speed for a drift and keep everything in one seam.

Drop shotting puts the angler in ultimate control. Be aware of every element of the drift, and make good choices, because all of them are yours. Control is the advantage of a drop shot rig. Remember this always — your rod tip controls everything . . .

STREAMERS

Streamer Presentations — The Touch and Go

Streamer Presentations — The Touch and Go

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 . . .

Streamer Presentations — The Tight Line Dance

Streamer Presentations — The Tight Line Dance

On a tight line rig, things are different. We keep line off the water — so it’s the rod tip that dictates the actions of the fly. Direct contact with the fly lends us ultimate control over every variable. With line off the water, it’s the rod tip that charts the course, the actions and all the movements of the streamer. And that . . . is a very big deal . . .

ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE

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BIG TROUT

Fighting Big Fish — Keep ‘Em Down

Fighting Big Fish — Keep ‘Em Down

A top-tier river trout is a beast. The inherent nature of a river, with the endless obstacles, rocks, tree parts, current breaks, high gradient runs and undercut banks challenges the angler at every bend. So when you finally hook up with a Whiskey, a new game begins. It’s a match up between trout and fisherman. Who will win that fight?

Bringing a trout to the net requires a series of accurate calculations, thoughtful moves and a good dose of luck. But with a few guiding principles and a bit of experience, you can minimize the luck required and get a good handle on the outcome. One of the best of those principles, is to keep ’em down . . .

Fly Fishing Quick Tips — Put the fish on the reel

Fly Fishing Quick Tips — Put the fish on the reel

With a ten inch trout, none of this really matters. The little guys don’t challenge your tackle or fish-fighting skills. But with a trout longer than your arm, if you don’t put the fish on the reel, problems are right around the corner.

Whether you have a high-end disc drag or you palm the spool with an old-school click-and pawl, getting the line on the reel is the first order of business. It’s the only reliable method of fighting fish . . .

How to Hold a Trout

How to Hold a Trout

You can’t stop fishermen from holding their trout. All of the Keep ‘Em Wet campaigns and the Ketchum Release tools will not stop anglers from reaching into the water and lifting their prize. It’s a desire to complete the act, to finish the catch, an instinct to hold the creature that we set out to capture.

And why wouldn’t we want to hold a wild trout — to touch the majesty of Mother Nature — to feel a fleeting, darting, irrefutably gorgeous animal and admire it, and to look upon that which eludes us so often and for so long? No, you’re not going to stop fishermen from holding their trout.

Instead, let’s spread the word about how to safely handle trout without harming them. What follows is a real world, riverside understanding of how to hold a trout, all from a fisherman who’s held a few trout, large and small . . .

NIGHT FISHING

Night Fishing for Trout — Bank Water

Night Fishing for Trout — Bank Water

On the luckiest nights, large and medium sized trout move to the shallows, searching for an easy meal. Trout visit thin water because they feel protected by the cover of darkness, and because they find baitfish of all types unguarded and ready to be devoured. But this is also when trout are most vulnerable to the skilled night fisher.

I have a bank-first approach on most nights, hoping I may hit it right and find actively feeding fish near the edges. On some rivers I wade to the middle and fish back to the boundary. And where the water is too deep to wade the center, I may stay tight to the bank and choose to either work down and swing flies or work upstream against the bank and drift them. Regardless of the method of presentation used, bank water is my first target . . .

Night Fishing for Trout — Drifting and Swinging Flies

Night Fishing for Trout — Drifting and Swinging Flies

Night fishing with a fly rod isn’t for beginners. Rather, it’s for the well-seasoned angler who doesn’t mind feeling like he’s green again. Enough is different about the night game that your whole system seems turned upside down. Trout hold in peculiar places and behave in strange ways. Flies that you’d never consider in the daylight become your new confidence patterns after dark. And your tippet isn’t really tippet anymore — it’s a chunk of thick, stiff monofilament, designed for setting the hook hard and holding on.

Night Fishing for Trout — Backstory: Drifting and Swinging

Night Fishing for Trout — Backstory: Drifting and Swinging

For all the varied methods of casting a line and showing something interesting to a trout, presenting a fly always comes down to this: Are you drifting or swinging?

Daylight or night bite, we’re delivering our flies either with the current or against it — drifting or swinging. And while their are hundreds of variations on each approach, it helps to recognize the root of every tactic that we employ with a fly rod. When I talk shop with my night fishing friends, when I sit down to share a beer and swap a few tales about how last night’s fishing shook out, my first question is usually, “Were you drifting or swinging.”

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