Articles in the Category Remix

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.

Learn to Love Rigging

There are precious few situations where one leader setup does the trick all day long. And taking the middle of the road approach leaves you average at both ends.

Take the time to make the changes.

Use the moments while tying knots for breathing a little deeper — for reflecting a little on where you are. Because trout take us into some amazing places. Look up at the swaying hemlock boughs as you make those five turns in a blood knot. See things and enjoy them. That kind of time is not wasted . . .

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Full Pint Streamer

The Full Pint is one of the only permanent additions to my streamer box in the last few years. I test a lot of patterns against my confidence lineup, and very few flies make the cut. My box of long flies covers all the bases, really. And because I’m (mostly) a minimalist, I don’t add anything that is similar to other flies that I already carry.

But the Full Pint dazzled trout at the first dance. It had a big night the first time out. Then, day after day when I set the hook on a swirl or felt the jolting stop of a large trout slam the fly in mid-strip, I marveled at the Pint’s effectiveness . . .

Tight Line Nymphing | Where Should the Sighter Be?

A good sighter is highly visible and responsive. We use it not just for strike detection. It also tells us how and where the flies are drifting under the surface. But how high should it be above the water?

Kinda Slow

Kinda Slow

I was either born or raised with an abundance of fishing optimism.

. . . No matter the situation, I have an ability to regroup and believe in big possibilities again. Within a few hours of making it home and saying to my sons, “It was kinda slow,” I’m ready for more. After a bowl of cereal and a few talks with friends, after a couple flies tied with something just a little different than last time, I always find a reason to believe the next trip will be better . . .

Streamer Presentations — Strips, Jigs and Jerks

Streamer Presentations — Strips, Jigs and Jerks

Using the rod tip is the other way to move a streamer. And I’ll argue that all jigs, jerks and twitches introduce some manner of slack . . .

. . . For my own streamer style, I welcome that slack. I use it for effect. I believe a streamer looks more alive — more natural — when it’s given a moment to rest, even if that moment is only a split second. Just a bit of slack allows our carefully-considered fur and feathers to puff and swoon with the current. Sure, a streamer has a similar chance to breath in-between strips too. But that look — that effect — is a little more dramatic when there’s no tension on the line . . .

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 . . .

Quick Tips: See beyond the sighter

Quick Tips: See beyond the sighter

New to tight lining? Then staring at the bright piece of colored line is a good place to start. But as soon as you gain some skills for reading the angle and speed of the sighter, when you can quickly gauge contact with your nymphs by glancing at the sag of the sighter, then it’s time to look ahead. Get to the next level.

. . . We do everything possible to improve the visibility of the sighter section in our leaders. We leave tag ends, add backing barrels and use super-bright opaque colored material. Good anglers also learn to fish from the best angles for visibility — usually with the sun or brightest light at their backs. So it’s easy to be mesmerized by those colors. And I think most nymph fishers catch themselves staring at the sighter too often, missing all the other available signals.

. . . What are those signals? Most of them are beyond the sighter — past the last visible piece of yellow, red, orange, etc. and into the water . . .

Quick Tips — Hook set at the end of every drift

Quick Tips — Hook set at the end of every drift

I watched the line, waiting for some indication of a strike and intently expecting a fish to eat the nymph. Then at the end of the drift I looked away, scanning for my next target upstream. When I lifted the line for the backcast, I was surprised to find a trout on the line. He bounced off quickly because I never got good hook set.

That’s happened to you a hundred times too, right?

Nymphing is an art of the unseen, and no matter the material attachments we add to the line for visual aid of a strike, trout take our flies without us knowing about it — probably way more often than we can imagine.

That’s why it’s best to end every underwater drift with a hook set. Do this with nymphs and with streamers, at the end of every dead drift presentation, and you’ll find unexpected trout attached to your line. The short set also prepares the line and leader for your next backcast. Here’s how . . .

Angler Types in Profile: The I’ve been doing that forever guy

Angler Types in Profile: The I’ve been doing that forever guy

Fly fishing is full of it — full of anglers who take themselves too seriously, and full of others who support it. Everyone knows everything.

So as fly fishing churns out newish concepts like articulated streamers and euro nymphing, it’s no wonder there’s some resistance to it all. No wonder  at every turn we find guys with arms folded, shaking their heads and saying, “Nah, I’ve been doing that forever. . .”

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Split Shot vs Weighted Flies

Split Shot vs Weighted Flies

So you hate split shot, right? I’ve never had anyone tell me that they like using it. But for me, split shot is a convenient and useful tool in my vest, and I think it’s underrated. It does things for me that can’t be done any other way, and I like it. Yes, I like split shot. Sure, I prefer weighted flies over having shot crimped to the line. (My nymph box is full of tungsten beaded flies.) But I also carry a selection of unweighted patterns that get a regular workout while using split shot for the weight.

Here are some thoughts about all that . . .

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Redd Fish — Should we fish for trout through the spawn or stay home?

Redd Fish — Should we fish for trout through the spawn or stay home?

We don’t target spawning trout, but is it okay to fish during the spawn? And if you choose to stay off the water, do you know what to look for when you return?

Here’s an in-depth look at trout spawning habits and some opinion about fishing around the spawning season. If you plan to fish during or after the spawn, there’s a key point to understand . . .

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Boys and Dads

Boys and Dads

I opened my eyes to full daylight. And the first sound I heard was rain in the gutter behind the bedroom window. I’ve learned to gauge the amount of rainfall by the dripping sounds of water inside an aluminum tube. Without pulling the window blind, I understood that the storm was steady. Somehow, I also knew it would continue all day.

Down the hall and on my way to the coffee pot, my nine year old son caught up to me, and with his characteristic excitement for everything in life, he asked, “Dad, can we fish today?”

I have a self-imposed rule for parenting. There are three things I always say yes to: baseball, music and fishing. When either of my boys wants to throw a ball, strum a guitar or sling a fly rod, I do everything I can to make that happen . . .

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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 . . .

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Nymphing: How to read a fly fishing indicator — What you might be missing

Nymphing: How to read a fly fishing indicator — What you might be missing

I know, I know. You don’t like to fish with indicators, right? You think an indy removes the angler from contact with the nymphs. You believe a fly fishing indicator actually gets in the way of strike detection more than it helps the situation. Granted, there are big problems with the way most fly fishermen use indicators. And I know a lot of anglers who refuse to attach them to a leader.

But I also know many more good anglers who see the value of indicators, who reach for an indy (or a dry-dropper rig) when a tight line nymphing presentation fails, who recognize that an indicator is an amazing and useful tool that extends our effective nymphing range, balances out a drift and helps keep the flies in one current seam.

I think a lot of anglers miss the finer points of the indy game. Good indicator nymphing (or dry-dropper fishing) is not just a chuck it and chance it affair. Instead, careful attention to the indy itself, reading the water vs the position and behavior of the indicator, is a necessary skill if the tactic is to be productive.

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