Articles in the Category Tips

Six Knots to Know for Trout Anglers on the Fly

One simple thing can change an angler’s enjoyment and success on the water, maybe more than any other — knot tying skill. But I meet too many otherwise excellent fly anglers who complain about knots or lament the amount of time it takes to make tactical transitions on the river.

You need six knots. Two, really — and then four more to fill in some technical stuff . . .

Trout Like To Do What Their Friends Are Doing

If you fish hard and pay attention to the details, you’ll often catch, miss or turn enough trout to learn something. At the heart of the puzzle is an eternal question: What do the trout want?

The best days start by learning what most trout in the river are doing. So, gather data toward those questions, and then branch off from there.

Maybe You’re Holding the Fly Rod Wrong

Finding the fulcrum with your trigger finger, and cradling the rod in your hand makes for effortless casting. If your rod hand aches at the end of the day, you’re doing it wrong.

Everything about casting and drifting improves by holding the rod with barely enough pressure to keep it in your hand. The fish will follow.

Tips for Better Wading and More Trout

Good fly fishing requires great footwork along the way. Staying mobile, reading the water, body positioning, wading not walking, and gear preparation. These are the keys to better wading . . .

Trout Like To Do What Their Friends Are Doing

Trout Like To Do What Their Friends Are Doing

If you fish hard and pay attention to the details, you’ll often catch, miss or turn enough trout to learn something. At the heart of the puzzle is an eternal question: What do the trout want?

The best days start by learning what most trout in the river are doing. So, gather data toward those questions, and then branch off from there.

Maybe You’re Holding the Fly Rod Wrong

Maybe You’re Holding the Fly Rod Wrong

Finding the fulcrum with your trigger finger, and cradling the rod in your hand makes for effortless casting. If your rod hand aches at the end of the day, you’re doing it wrong.

Everything about casting and drifting improves by holding the rod with barely enough pressure to keep it in your hand. The fish will follow.

Tips for Better Wading and More Trout

Tips for Better Wading and More Trout

Good fly fishing requires great footwork along the way. Staying mobile, reading the water, body positioning, wading not walking, and gear preparation. These are the keys to better wading . . .

Habits: Keep It On the Reel

Habits: Keep It On the Reel

Bad habits start easily enough, but they’re ingrained when an angler chooses not to make a change, instead staying with what is comfortable and convenient. We all do this at times. Instead of learning a better way, we do what is easier. In fishing, that happens a lot.

All line and leader not being used should be on the reel. Always. Yes, always, as in ALL the time.

Here’s how, why and what problems arise from doing it any other way . . .

Perfect from the Start

Perfect from the Start

Never underestimate how far away a trout can see upstream. And never underestimate how far away a trout will refuse a fly. It might drift perfectly, right past the trout. But the decision — the refusal, may have already been made with the fly twenty feet upstream.

Here’s more . . .

What water type? Where are they eating?

What water type? Where are they eating?

Fast, heavy, deep runs have always been my favorite water type to fish. I can spend a full day in the big stuff. I love the mind-clearing washout of whitewater. No average sounds penetrate it. And the never ending roar of a chunky run is mesmerizing. I also enjoy the wading challenge. The heaviest water requires not just effort, but a constant focus and a planned path to keep you upright and on two feet. Constant adjustment is needed to stay balanced, and one slip or misstep ends up in a thorough dunking. It reminds me of the scaffold work I did on construction crews in my twenties. I always enjoyed being a few stories up, because the workday flew by. When every movement means life or death, you’d better stay focused. I always liked that . . .

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Why do we miss trout on a nymph?

Why do we miss trout on a nymph?

Late hook sets are a problem, as is guessing about whether we should set the hook in the first place. But I believe, more times than not, when we miss a trout, the fish actually misses the fly. However, that doesn’t let us off the hook either. It’s probably still our fault. And here’s why . . .

Loss of contact, refusals and bad drifts. All of these things and more add into missing trout on nymphs. So how do we improve the hookup ratio?

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Fishing Light

Fishing Light

You’ve probably been wading upstream on a favorite trout stream and seen another angler’s lost tackle. Maybe the whole mess was in the streamside trees, with split shot and bobber attached, or a misguided F13 Rapala with rusted hooks. Maybe you’ve snagged a pile of monofilament stuck in waterlogged branches and lodged against a rock. And when you’ve seen all that mess, maybe you were stunned by how heavy the tackle was. Are you with me? . . .

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Nobody Home | Nobody Hungry

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!

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Be a Mobile Angler

Be a Mobile Angler

Wading is not just what happens between locations. And it’s not only about moving across the stream from one pocket to the next. Instead, wading happens continuously.

Many anglers wade to a spot in the river and set up, calf, knee or waist deep, seemingly relieved to have arrived safely. Then they proceed to fish far too much water without moving their feet again. When the fish don’t respond, these anglers finally pick up their feet. Maybe they grab a wading staff and begrudgingly take the steps necessary to reach new water and repeat the process.

This method of start and stop, of arriving and relocating, is a poor choice. Instead, the strategy of constant motion is what wins out . . .

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New Structure | Old Structure

New Structure | Old Structure

One of my favorite places in the world is a deeply shaded valley that runs north and south between two towering mountains of mixed hardwoods. The forest floor has enough conifers mixed in to block much of the sunlight, even in the winter. The ferns of spring grow tall, and thick moss is spread throughout. The ground remains soft enough here that all large trees eventually surrender to the valley. When they can no longer support their weight in the soft spongy ground, they fall over, leaving a broken forest of deep greens and the dark-chocolate browns of wet, dead bark. It’s gorgeous.

Fallen timber also dictates the course of this cold water stream. The fresh tree falls force the creek to bend away from the hillside. Rolling water carves away the earth and lays bare the rocks — these stones of time, as Maclean puts it. And when water cuts into a neighboring channel, previously dry for centuries, new river banks are undercut and fresh roots exposed . . .

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