Articles in the Category Fly Fishing Strategies

Lightning Fast Leader Changes (with VIDEO)

Continued success and enjoyment on the river is a result of versatility. Solving the daily mystery, adapting our approach and getting that next bite is our endless goal. Adapting and changing quickly is a critical piece of the game. Knotting on the next fly is the easy part, but swift, wholesale leader changes are more elusive . . .

Podcast: Find Feeding Fish — Exploring Water Types and More — S3-Ep5

Rivers are in a perpetual state of change, and the trout’s feeding patterns respond to those changes.

There are many factors that encourage trout to move into and feed in certain types of water. While the real-world conditions and events are infinite, there are five major factors that influence where and how trout feed in a river. They are: water temperature, water levels and water clarity, hatches, bug and baitfish activity, light conditions, and spawning activity.

And if we learn to recognize all of this, we have the keys to the puzzle.

Fly Fishing Strategies — Look for the Changeout Spots

As you wade the river, or when you’re on a float trip that covers miles of great water, you’re looking for moments — you’re looking for places — to make that next adjustment.

I call these the changeout spots . . .

Find Your Rhythm

With confusion and some sense of despair, I wondered what was wrong with my presentation? What else could I adjust to convince these trout?

Then it hit me. I was fishing hard, but I was hardly fishing. With all of those changes, I’d had no rhythm. I’d been inefficient and had struggled for consistency . . .

That’s Not a Dead Drift

That’s Not a Dead Drift

Fly fishers talk a lot about a dead drift. And why shouldn’t we? So much of our time is spent trying to replicate this elusive presentation that the concept of drifting flies without influence from the leader dictates a large part of what we do. It’s what we think about. We plan for it, rig for it and wade into position for it.

. . . If you just twitched or stripped your fly, it cannot dead drift next. Anything under tension drifts with some influence from the leader. And that’s not a dead drift.

Dry Fly Fishing — Back Door, Side Door, Front Door | When the first cast matters most: Part Two

Dry Fly Fishing — Back Door, Side Door, Front Door | When the first cast matters most: Part Two

When fishing dries, the cautious angler has many chances to fool a rising trout. Start behind the trout at the back door. Next move over and try the side door, beside the trout. Then try going right down the middle and through the front door.

Making consecutive casts with a dry fly produces often enough to believe that the next cast will seal the deal. But there’s a lot more to it . . .

When the First Cast Matters Most: Part One — Streamers

When the First Cast Matters Most: Part One — Streamers

While fishing the long flies, accuracy is paramount. In a recent conversation with my friend, Bill Dell, he made an excellent point that changed the way I fished streamers again. Bill’s thoughts forced me to rethink the habits I’d fallen into. And that hammered me back into shape.

Bill told me he doesn’t make a cast until he’s in the ideal position, until he can deliver the streamer to that sunken log near the bank with exactly the angle he considers best. He refrains from any lead-up casts. Rather, Bill saves the initial cast for when he can deliver the knockout blow — no jabbing on the way in. Here’s why . . .

The Sweet Ride

The Sweet Ride

There’s a sweet spot to every drift. For each swing of a wet fly, strip of a streamer or drift of a dry, there’s a range — a distance — where the fly looks its best. This is the moment where the fur and feathers tied to a hook are most convincing or most natural. It’s when the fly is really fishing and not just dragging through the water. Good anglers recognize this sweet spot of the drift. They maximize its length. They position themselves in the river to control it with their rod tip or with slack line. And they set it all up to happen over the best trout in the river . . .

We’re looking for the best part of what happens after a cast. We’re searching for the sweet ride. And we’re trying to make it last as long as possible . . .

You Don’t Have to Match the Hatch

You Don’t Have to Match the Hatch

One by one they came back to the gravel lot, all of them pleasantly water-weary and uniquely satisfied. Each had caught lots of trout — that part of the story was the same. But the hot flies were all different. Trout had come to dries, streamers and a variety of nymphs. All of the Troutbitten crew had found success, but each had come to it in a different way.

. . . I’m not suggesting to ignore the hatches. I’m saying that you could ignore the hatches and probably catch just as many trout as the next guy . . .

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Fly Fishing Strategies: Sighters — Seven Separate Tools

Fly Fishing Strategies: Sighters — Seven Separate Tools

Sighters are game changers. A visible sighter allows you to stop guessing where your fly might be and know where it is instead. By having a visual reference at a fixed point on your leader, you can track the movements of that leader, in relation to the currents, and have a very good idea of what your flies are doing under the water — or on the surface.

Not only do I build a sighter into my nymph and streamer leaders, I also add small, subtle sighters into my dry fly leaders. As my friend, Jimmi Ray, says, “Why wouldn’t you?” Sighters, however, are a staple in tight line and euro nymphing leaders, and in the Mono Rig.

I absolutely believe in the effectiveness of long mono leaders for nearly every underwater presentation to river trout, but here’s one major drawback: without the fly line, there’s nothing to look at. A sighter gives that visual back, better than ever.

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Fly Fishing Strategies: Tippet Rings For Tag Droppers? No Thanks

Fly Fishing Strategies: Tippet Rings For Tag Droppers? No Thanks

Fishing dropper rigs should be easy. But judging from the amount of questions I field about knots, dropper types and tangles, fishing two or more flies causes a lot of angst out there.

Last week, I wrote about fishing tangle-free tandem rigs, and a popular question repeated itself in my inbox: “Tippet rings would be great for droppers, right?” My short is answer, no. My long answer is . . . usually not. Tippet rings for tags can work, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

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Fly Fishing Strategies: Tangle-Free Tandem Rigs

Fly Fishing Strategies: Tangle-Free Tandem Rigs

Multi-fly rigs allow for more chances to screw things up, and that’s undeniable. In an early article, I brushed off the tangles problem like it’s not a big deal. With experience (and some resignation to the inevitable errors), it really isn’t a big deal. Here are some ideas to keep the tandem rig tangles to an acceptable minimum.

Keep in mind, that I’ve grown into these strategies. I’ve done a lot of fiddling and wiggling with rats’ nests out there. And remember, the thing they don’t tell you about trial and error is how much the errors suck the life out of your will to keep trying . . .

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Fly Fishing Strategies: Learn the Nymph

Fly Fishing Strategies: Learn the Nymph

As a young troutbitten kid, I learned to fish live minnows strung on a small double hook with a barrel swivel and split shot. My uncle taught me to cast upstream and dead drift the unlucky creature, adding a slight lift when necessary to keep it off the bottom. When the fathead minnow was across from my position, I allowed the line to tighten and swing as the minnow was carried downstream. That transition between dead drifting and swinging was the sweet spot of the drift, and I learned to understand where it would happen. By considering the speed and direction of the various currents, I tried to position myself adjacent to the prime holding water for the best trout. Even at ten years of age, fishing was a beautifully complicated game and every cast was full of possibility. It was captivating.

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Fly Fishing Strategies: No Limits — Fish every type of weight available

Fly Fishing Strategies: No Limits — Fish every type of weight available

Casting to the bank with my back against the wind, the medium copper conehead on the Half Pint wasn’t enough to drop my fly through the stained water and out of site, so I needed split shot . . .

. . . I turned into the wind with my head down. The rain pummeled the hood of my raincoat, creating a buckshot spray that sounded like small hail on a tin roof. With soggy fingers poking out through wool gloves, I reached into my vest for the disc-shaped container of split shot. I plucked out two #4 shot and quickly squeezed them onto the line . . .

. . . Use whatever kind of weight makes sense. Use whatever fits the situation and matches the objectives, and I don’t limit yourself.

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