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: #52 — Clip it, unravel it and retie it

It shocks me how many good fishermen think they’re saving time by untangling a maze of monofilament and flies. They use forceps and fingernails. Some even carry needles specifically for the job of picking out would-be knots.

Most guys see their options as a pair of choices: either cut off the whole thing and re-rig with new lengths of tippet, or try to salvage it all by spending enough time working the messy knots and tangles free.

But I promise you, there’s a third option. And it’s much better than the other two . . .

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: #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 . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #16 — You don’t need big flies to catch big trout

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #16 — You don’t need big flies to catch big trout

I’ll get right to the point: Your best bet for catching trophy trout is with medium to small flies. More specifically, large nymphs or small streamers are the perfect size. 

I’ve written about making the choice between going for big fish or for a bunch of fish, arguing that you can’t have both. I’ve also pushed the point on these Troutbitten pages that catching big fish does not require fishing big flies.

Talking with my buddy, Matt Grobe, the other day, he summed it up like this: “Fishing large streamers is the most overrated thing out there for catching the big ones.” Nice. And this is coming from a guy who fishes the heart of Montana, around Bozeman and beyond, all year round.

All of this goes seems to go against currently prevailing wisdom, but it wasn’t always that way . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #5 — Find Your System

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #5 — Find Your System

Efficiency is a guiding principle for me on the water, and it runs strong through the pages of Troutbitten. I believe most anglers mismanage their time on the water too often (myself included). Being thoughtful, intentional, and making the decisions that catch more...

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #4 — Fish Familiar Waters

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #4 — Fish Familiar Waters

When I was a boy, I dreamed of having a trout stream close enough to walk to. It was my greatest wish. I now have Bellefonte, Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek just a short hike out the back door. It’s a remarkably consistent river, the kind you should never be skunked on —...

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #3 — Fish New Waters

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #3 — Fish New Waters

I’m a wanderer. On the water, I’d rather explore a new section of river than visit a familiar one — almost always. There’s excitement and an expectation of the unknown in and around every trout stream. I’ve found too many remarkable things around the bend to expect...

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #1 – Fish More

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #1 – Fish More

You should fish more. No, really. You should fish a lot more. Yeah, I know that family, work and the unfortunate surprises of life keep us away from the rivers we love. When I meet young people, full of ambition and new excitement for the fly rod, I marvel at their...

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