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Fighting Big Fish — The Last Ten Feet

Fighting Big Fish — The Last Ten Feet

The last ten feet can be the hardest. So, get the fish upstream, lift on a direction change, keep the head up, and spread your wings. When it’s close enough for the net, those are the keys to landing the biggest trout of your life . . .

Q&A: Long Drifts or Short — What’s Better and Why?

Q&A: Long Drifts or Short — What’s Better and Why?

I play the odds. I’ve seen what works best, so I repeat it the most. And I’d rather get two or three good casts against the next log for the next thirty seconds rather than just one cast to the log and twenty five seconds of stripping away from it. This is the mindset of having tight targets, of getting short and effective drifts . . .

Tippet Protection and Nymphing Rods

Tippet Protection and Nymphing Rods

Here’s the bottom line: You do not need an extra-soft rod tip to protect delicate tippets while nymphing. Skip past that selling point in the marketing jargon, and make your fly rod decision on the other factors that matter.

STORIES

Everything Has a Flip Side

Everything Has a Flip Side

What do you believe in? What can you fish hard enough and long enough to effectively convince a sluggish trout that it’s hungry? That’s the fisherman’s confidence. And it beats out the hatch chart, the guide’s advice and last week’s river stories every time . . .

TACTICS

VIDEO: Tight Line and Euro Nymphing — The Lift and Lead

VIDEO: Tight Line and Euro Nymphing — The Lift and Lead

The Lift and Lead is a cornerstone concept for advanced tight line nymphing skills.

Lift to allow the fly to fall into place. Lead to stop it from falling and to keep it gliding through the strike zone.

For certain, the lift and lead is an advanced tactic. But if you’re having success on a tight line for a few seasons now, you’re probably already incorporating some of this without knowing it. And by considering both elements, by being deliberate with each part of the lift and lead, control over the course of your flies increases. Efficiency with weight improves.

The path is more predictable. And more trout eat the fly . . .

Streamer Presentations — Your First Move

Streamer Presentations — Your First Move

Streamer anglers will tell you that most of their hits happen within the first few seconds or strips. Trout see the fly enter, and their decision whether to attack, chase or ignore your fly is often determined by your first move after entry.

. . . Trout don’t miss much in their field of vision, and they surely notice anything the size of a streamer landing in their zone. Therefore, what that fly does next either entices, dissuades or spooks the fish . . .

NYMPHING

VIDEO: Tight Line and Euro Nymphing — The Lift and Lead

VIDEO: Tight Line and Euro Nymphing — The Lift and Lead

The Lift and Lead is a cornerstone concept for advanced tight line nymphing skills.

Lift to allow the fly to fall into place. Lead to stop it from falling and to keep it gliding through the strike zone.

For certain, the lift and lead is an advanced tactic. But if you’re having success on a tight line for a few seasons now, you’re probably already incorporating some of this without knowing it. And by considering both elements, by being deliberate with each part of the lift and lead, control over the course of your flies increases. Efficiency with weight improves.

The path is more predictable. And more trout eat the fly . . .

STREAMERS

Podcast — Ep. 9: Breaking Down Streamer Presentations

Podcast — Ep. 9: Breaking Down Streamer Presentations

Make that fly swim. Give life to the streamer. Convince the trout that they’re looking at a living, swimming creature.

That’s what this podcast conversation is about. How do we move the fly with the line hand and the rod tip, with strips, jigs, twitches and more? We talk about head position, depth, speed and holding vs crossing currents and seams. We touch on natural looks vs attractive ones. Should we make it easy for them or make them chase?

Don’t Guess — Set the Hook and Set Hard

Don’t Guess — Set the Hook and Set Hard

Here’s what I see: Too much guessing. Too much assuming that it’s not a trout rather than assuming that it is. So don’t guess. Set the hook. And set it hard.

If you’re trying to get long drifts, change that. If you’re trying to guess what’s a rock and what’s a trout, change that. If you’re trying to lift the nymph off a rock, and then you realize it was fish — bump buh-bump and gone — change that. I suggest a fundamental shift in your approach . . .

Leaders Relaunch in the Troutbitten Shop

Leaders Relaunch in the Troutbitten Shop

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 . . .

ANGLER TYPES IN PROFILE

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BIG TROUT

The shakes, and why we love big trout

The shakes, and why we love big trout

. . 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 . . .

Night Fishing for Trout — You’re gonna need a bigger rope

Night Fishing for Trout — You’re gonna need a bigger rope

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 . . .

NIGHT FISHING

Night Fishing for Trout — Moonlight, Starlight and City Light

Night Fishing for Trout — Moonlight, Starlight and City Light

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 . . .

Night Fishing for Trout — People, Places and Things

Night Fishing for Trout — People, Places and Things

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 . . .

Hell-Hot Sun and the Strawberry Moon

Hell-Hot Sun and the Strawberry Moon

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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