Articles in the Category Fifty Tips

Fly Fishing Tips: #54 — Don’t let a good bite teach bad habits

Fly fishing provides so much variety in presenting flies to a trout that a good and well-rounded fly angler can make something happen, even on the slowest days — usually. And so, we spend our time on the water learning and refining these various techniques with dry flies, nymphs, streamers and wets, waiting for the trout to turn on, but fishing always with persistence and hope flung into each cast.

I’ve been around enough long-term fishermen to understand one primary character trait — we all approach the water with an effort to learn. That’s what keeps things fresh year after year. That’s what keeps a man fishing from childhood to the grave. It’s not the trout, but the process of discovery, the perfection of tactics that will never be good enough to make a sure thing out of a day on the river.

Every angler finds moments when the fishing is easy, when seemingly any decent presentation of the fly brings a fish to hand. Even the most difficult rivers give up a good bite once in a while. And the easiest rivers, with eager trout, produce great bite windows that last for hours or even days. But what should we learn from that? . . .

Fly Fishing Tips: #53 — Nymphing: Set On Anything Unusual

On a first drift through the lane, you may very well set on anything. But maybe that line hesitation was just the flies ticking the top of a rock. Good. Now you know.

Don’t set on anything. And don’t wait for a sixth sense to kick in and grant you the superpower of sensing trout takes. Instead, pick a lane and learn it. Use the nymph as a probe to draw a mental map of a specific lane. Refine the drift. And all the while, set on anything unusual.Let’s break it down real quick . . .

Fly Fishing Tips: #51 — Limit the line in and on the water

Whatever line touches the river will drag. Start there. Assume it as reality. The currents take your leader, pushing and pulling it downstream. This wouldn’t be so bad if the current could be even all the way across, from bank to bank. But it isn’t. It never is. Even long flats and pools have microcurrents tugging on the leader and tippet, destroying all hopes of a dead drift and complicating the lives of fishermen . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #50 — Fish Hard

Here we are, at the end of fifty tips. Just two weeks shy of a year ago today, I started this series with a plan. Determined to publish every Sunday, I wrote these tips to be a little different, trying for something unique, and with a new take on some stuff many of us may not have considered for a while.

. . . What brings us back is the trout. Fishing without catching only goes so far. It only lasts so long. We dream not just of the woods and the water, but the trout too. And catching those fish brings in another art, another appreciation for the challenge and a new way to be creative. It also fulfills our human need to learn something. And without a trout on the end of your line once in a while, you’re just hiking through the water with a ten-foot stick . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #30 — The best-laid plans of fishers and men often go awry

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #30 — The best-laid plans of fishers and men often go awry

All of the things we plan for and dream of in our downtime — the river conditions, access points and locations on maps, the hatches that should be, the expectations of success — all of it is variable. It all can and will change. Truthfully, the variations — that randomness — is the heartbeat of fly fishing. It’s the essence of the allure. The unpredictability is the draw. Adapting to the day-to-day river conditions and meeting the trout on their own terms is half the fun in all this. Plan, but plan broadly and expect the unexpected.

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #29 — Read Trout Water

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #29 — Read Trout Water

Gravity pulls it downstream. All of it. Every drop of water merging into a river, whether fallen directly from the clouds into a small brook, or bubbling from a spring seep on a large and open river, is under the consistent influence of a force none of us can see. But we feel it. It’s predictable. Gravity holds few surprises. And though its mystery runs deep, we’ve each learned, from birth, to expect the unseen force holding our world together to continue doing just that — to keep all the pieces and parts stuck tight — trusting that the center will hold and things won’t fall apart. It’s consistent enough to be boring. But as an angler, the effects of gravity on flowing water is fascinating. It’s fundamental. And it’s the key to reading trout water . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #28 — Ten and Two

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #28 — Ten and Two

I’ll admit it. I came to the fly rod by way of Brad Pitt. When I heard Robert Redford’s overwhelming and compelling voice-over, it was too much to resist. Because one afternoon in 1992, while browsing the VHS titles at the local rental joint, I was drawn in by the...

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #23  — Don’t be a hero — Get closer

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #23 — Don’t be a hero — Get closer

On rare days, we find good fishing with very little work, and trout come to hand easily. Most days, it’s a challenge out there, and we have to think about what’s going wrong or what we might do better. What can we change or adjust? In tough times, we can give up and walk home, or we can observe and ask questions. One of the best questions to ask is . . .  Am I as close as I can be? . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #21  — Fear No Snag

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #21 — Fear No Snag

Playing it safe saves flies. It even saves time. But it catches fewer trout. And whether drifting nymphs across a rock garden, punching hairwing dries into hazardous hidey-holes or slinging streamers into bankside slots, it pays to take risks because the rewards follow . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #20  — Find the Best Light Angles, and See What You’re Fishing

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #20 — Find the Best Light Angles, and See What You’re Fishing

Finding these angles becomes intuitive. Without thinking much about it, I usually set myself up with the sun behind or to my side, avoiding the surface glare of direct light. As I fish upstream I might work left bank to right, moving perpendicular across the stream flow until I reach the right bank. Then I quickly wade left again, back to the left bank, to start over on the next line — like a classic Underwood typewriter printing out one sentence at a time, just to see into the water, see my fly or watch my sighter . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #18 — Imagine a Target — Fish to the Fish

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #18 — Imagine a Target — Fish to the Fish

You can roam the river, mending, drifting and stripping, casting into every corner pocket and straight channel. You have the skills to present the fly, the consummate awareness of currents and flows and the stamina to wade rough water for hours on end. But can you imagine a target? Can you picture a trout feeding in the hydraulic swirl behind an unseen chunk of bedrock on the river bottom? Can you believe the trout is there? . . .

The capacity to imagine a trout in the river is a next-level skill that’s only earned by thoughtful time on the water . . .

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