Consider your fly size and weight. Know your tippet diameter. Understand the length, thickness and weight of your leader’s butt section. And learn to accurately judge the distance you are casting. All of these elements are intertwined. And advanced angling starts by being aware of the stats. Know your weights and measures . . .
Articles in the Category Fly Fishing Strategies
Nobody Home | Nobody Hungry
Nobody home means there’s no trout in the slot you were fishing. And sometimes that’s true. Nobody hungry suggests that a trout might be in the slot but he either isn’t eating, isn’t buying what you’re selling, or he doesn’t like the way you are selling it.
Does it matter? It sure does!
The Pre-Cast Pickup (with VIDEO)
The pre-cast is a simple motion that lifts some (or all) of the fly line off the water and gets the leader moving. It’s an elegant solution to a common problem.
When the dry fly drift is over, simply activate the line and get it moving before starting the backcast. The motion of the pre-cast pickup breaks the hold of surface tension. And that’s the key. Once the surface lets go of the line, it is easily lifted off the water with minimal disturbance . . .
Dirty Water — Tight Targets
. . . If visibility is twelve inches or less, well then, things are pretty muddy.
Today, visibility was at least twice that. And I’m not saying it was clear enough for trout to make out details at two feet, but if you dunked your head under the water and looked upstream, you could probably see shapes coming from about twenty-four inches away. And if those shapes looked like food, you might be interested. Maybe not.
I have a bunch of tips for fishing this kind of water, and I’ve learned to enjoy the challenge. But all of my tips start with this . . .
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.
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 . . .
Cover Water — Catch Trout
John crossed the bridge with his head down. He watched each wading boot meet a railroad tie before picking up his other foot for the next step. Cautiously, he walked the odd and narrow gait required when walking the tracks. And with nothing but air between each massive railroad tie, he could see the river below.
I’ve never known anyone to fall on a railroad bridge. I suppose you couldn’t fall through. But you’d surely break a leg or twist an ankle with one wrong step on that slick wood.
So I stood by the “No Trespassing” sign, next to the edge of the bridge, and watched my friend slowly make his way toward me. He looked disappointed. And when gravel filled in the gaps between ties, when John was back on solid ground, his head stayed down.
“Did you catch a Namer?” I asked with feigned enthusiasm.
“Ha! Nope, I surely didn’t do that,” John said, waving his hand and brushing off my next question.”
Fly Fishing Strategies — Plan for the Hookset
For a moment, let’s consider where the line goes when the hookset doesn’t stick a trout . . .
You strike on the rise and miss a fish. Or, while nymphing, you set when the fly bumps a rock for the forty-fifth time. And the fly goes where?
In wide open meadows and valleys, who cares? With no trees to eat your fly, sloppy hooksets go unpunished. But the rivers I frequent harbor broken tree limbs as earnest gatekeepers. I like dark, shady corners because the trout do. And working around these obstacles forces me to be mindful — to know where every hookset finishes . . .
Get a good drift, then move on
Cover more water and catch more trout. It’s a common theme running through these Troutbitten pages and one that surely puts more fish in the net — if you’re committed to it. And while there’s certainly a danger of taking this concept of constant motion to counterproductive extremes, the core philosophy of showing your flies to more trout is hard to argue against.
There are a host of variables to consider, though. And walking upstream spraying casts in every direction is not the way to get things done.
Let’s talk about it . . .
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 . . .
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.