Articles in the Category Tactics

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?

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? . . .

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 . . .

Beyond Euro Nymphing

Euro nymphing is an elegant, tight line solution. But don’t limit yourself. Why not use the tight line tools (leaders and tactics) for more than just euro nymphing?

Use it for fishing a tight-line style of indicators. Use it for dry dropper or even straight dries. And use it for streamers, both big and small.

Refining these tactics is the natural progression of anglers who fish hard, are thoughtful about the tactics and don’t like limitations. I know many good fly fishers who have all come out the other side with the same set of tools. Because fishing a contact system like the Mono Rig eventually teaches you all that is possible . . .

Streamer Presentations — The Cross-Current Strip

Streamer Presentations — The Cross-Current Strip

There are a lot of ways to retrieve a long fly after the cast. And that’s really what’s so much fun about the streamer game. Fly anglers might spend hours fretting over the imperfection of a drag free drift on a dry fly or twice as long considering the depth and drift of a nymph, but when the streamer is tied on, it’s a chance to let loose. Nothing else in fly fishing allows for such freedom of presentation. “Everything works sometimes.” No other fly type fits that tenant so well.

But what will trout respond to most? That’s the question. And on many days — most perhaps — the answer is a cross-current strip. Here’s why . . .

Streamside | Dave Rothrock’s Drop Shot Video

Streamside | Dave Rothrock’s Drop Shot Video

I get a lot of questions about drop shot nymphing, and though I’ve mentioned it countless times in other Troutbitten articles, I’ve never devoted a whole piece to it. Why? Probably because it would take a full series of articles and many diagrams to convey my own take on drop shot nymphing. I’m sure I’ll get to it someday, but for now, here’s a quick rundown of my own drop shot thoughts, followed by a link to Dave Rothrock’s new video, How to Set Up a Drop Shot Nymphing Rig . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The Pre-Cast Pickup

Dry Fly Fishing — The Pre-Cast Pickup

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

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

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.

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 . . .

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How to Easily Avoid the Mono Rig Coiling Problem

How to Easily Avoid the Mono Rig Coiling Problem

Monofilament fishing line tends to hold the curves of its home. Whatever spool it’s stored on, it peels off in roughly the same diameter as that housing. All monofilament has this tendency, but some brands hold their memory much more than others. This line memory — this line coiling — is a problem. But the fix is very simple . . .

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Nymph Hook Inversion — And the Myth of the Jig Hook

Nymph Hook Inversion — And the Myth of the Jig Hook

Would you believe it if I told you that jig hooks don’t change the way a nymph rides in the water? You don’t need a jig hook to invert the nymph. In fact almost all nymphs invert, especially when weighted with a bead or lead. Furthermore, nymphs built on a jig hook probably aren’t inverting the way you imagine. And how you attach the knot is much more important than the hook itself . . .

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Tight Line Nymphing — Contact Can Be Felt at the Rod Tip

Tight Line Nymphing — Contact Can Be Felt at the Rod Tip

. . . But Smith had also drawn out of me one thing that I’d never fully put into words before explaining it to him. Namely, that contact is felt as much as it’s seen. While tight line nymphing, I’d told Smith, an advanced angler can feel contact with the nymph on the rod tip. Essentially, you could very well fish with your eyes closed. And because Smith was skeptical, I’d suggested some after-dark tight line nymphing as a way to prove to my friend that he could feel that contact just as well as anyone . . .

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Fly Fishing Strategies: Tags and Trailers

Fly Fishing Strategies: Tags and Trailers

Sometimes trout are feeding so aggressively that the particular intricacies of how nymphs are attached to the line seem like a trivial waste of time. Those are rare, memorable days with wet hands that never dry out between fish releases. More often than not, though, trout make us work to catch them. And those same particulars about where and how the flies are attached can make all the difference in delivering a convincing presentation to a lazy trout.

Two nymphs can double your chances of fooling a trout. But there are downsides. Here are some strategies for rigging and getting the most from two fly rigs.

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What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath

There’s a world unseen below the surface. The riverbed weaves a course and directs the currents, giving shape to its valley. Water swirls behind rocks. It moves north and south against submerged logs. The stream blends and separates, merges and divides again as vertical columns rise and fall — and all of this in three dimensions. . . . Eventually, knowing and admiring what lies beneath is as easy as seeing what flows above.

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