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Everything changes. That’s the only constant. And in the fly fishing world, the tactics, the gear and how we share all of this information changes, even though what the trout eat and how they eat it pretty much stays the same.
That time frame, that snapshot, from where you entered the fly fishing world, shapes what you do on the water. And it’s amazing what just twenty calendar years does to that snapshot. Because a lot of your understanding about what is common, accepted or frowned upon is shaped right away, as you start researching and learning about this fishing thing that eventually becomes a big part of your life.
“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 . . .
Rounding the corner with a Corner Cast often outperforms a Roll Cast. It’s faster, more efficient and easier. But remember, it requires great casting from, with good line speed and crisp stops. That’s where good fly casting always begins. So develop a good baseline and everything else will follow. . . .
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 . . .
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 . . .
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 . . .
Slipping contact is the intermixing of influence and autonomy. Take the fly somewhere — help it glide along. Then surrender it to the current, and let the river make the decisions. Slip in and out, and find the balance between influence and independence to the fly . . .
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 . . .
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 . . .
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.
Control. Options. Precision. These are the most attractive aspects of fishing a tight line system, and the sighter is the key to it all.
A sighter is more than a strike indicator. It also shows depth, angle, speed and contact. It points to our flies and takes away the guesswork. For an angler who learns to read all of this on the sighter, that colored line above the water provides a most significant advantage to the underwater game . . .
When I start wondering why the fishing seems slow, I first check my distance. Have I started creeping the cast too far beyond that perfect baseline? If so, I reel in a couple turns. I wade closer, staying behind the trout and being cautious with my approach.
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.
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 . . .
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 . . .
ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE
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Tom and I talked about streamers, mostly — about how fast the industry has moved into what I think of as the modern streamer code. And about how, in my mind, I juxtapose that with an old-school streamer style that (maybe) a lot of anglers have forgotten about . . .
. . When I hooked him, I felt a tremendous release of emotion. Satisfaction merged with adrenaline. My yearning for such a moment finally came to a close as the big wild brown trout slid onto the bank. I killed the trout with a sharp rap at the top of its skull, because that’s what I did back then. I knelt by the river to wet my creel, and when I placed the dead trout in the nylon bag, the full length of its tail stuck out from the top.
. . . Then I began to shake. The closing of anticipation washed over me. The fruition of learning and wondering for so many years left me in awe of the moment I’d waited for. I trembled as I sat back on my heels. With two knees in the mud of a favorite trout stream, I watched the water pass before me. I breathed. I thought about nothing and everything all at once. I felt calm inside even as I stared down at my wet, shaking hands.
. . .When a gust of wind pushed through the forest, I stirred. Finally my lengthy revery was passed, and I stood tall with my lungs full of a strong wind. Then I walked back to camp . . .
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 . . .
Ironically, light is what defines night fishing. In the absence of natural daylight, it’s the moon and stars that provide the angler with sight. Of course, city lights, headlamps, flashlights, and glow-in-the-dark stuff are also factors in the night fishing experience. So in many natural and artificial forms, light draws the lines around night fishing.
Trout respond to changing light conditions in the daytime, and every good fisherman recognizes it. We look for shadows on sunny days. We fish at dusk, and we fish at dawn. All anglers are eager to search for trout on cloudy days. But when the daylight fades trout habits may shift dramatically — and that’s where this mystery begins . . .
The allure of night fishing arises from a mystery. We pursue unknowable things into the darkness and sort through the unpredictable behaviors of trout to catch them after the sun goes down. There are no experts in the night game, and that itself is what secures the puzzle — a simple lack of information. There is no treasure map after dark.
In large part, we fish because of what might happen. While night fishing, we begin to realize that anything can happen . . .
I’m not a big fan of summer.
It’s the heat. Thing is, you can’t really get away from it. If you want to be outside in all seasons (and I do) you have to somehow make friends with or tolerate the weather. Against the cold of winter, you can add layers to fend off most discomfort, but in the summer heat, once the shirt is off and the flip flops are on, your done — that’s as cool as you’re gonna get. So there’s no option but to mow the grass, play baseball and have the family picnic in a thick, wet blanket of summer heat. People still tell me that I’ll get used to it. I doubt it.
The same people also tell me how much they love summers. I don’t believe them. I think they like the idea of it, and they like the parties, the parades, the fireworks, the longer daylight hours and the lax work schedules. But the actual season? The weather? Nah. Bitching about the heat (like I’m doing here) seems like another common summer recreation from the list, and I see a clear majority looking for the next air conditioner, cold lake or swimming pool.
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