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The Tap and the Take — Was That a Fish?

Using the riverbed as a reference is the most common way to know about the unseen nymph below. Get the fly down. Tick the riverbed. Touch and lift. This time-honored strategy is used across fishing styles for just about every species I’ve ever cast to. Find the bottom, and find fish. Better yet, find the bottom and know where the fly is.

But how do we tell the difference between ticking the bottom and a trout strike? My friend, Smith, calls it the tap and the take . . .

Fly Casting — Acquire Your Target Before the Pickup

Accuracy. It’s an elementary casting principle, but it’s the hardest thing to deliver. Wild trout are unforgiving. So the errant cast that lands ten inches to the right of a shade line passes without interest. As river anglers, our task is a complicated one, because we must be accurate not only with the fly to the target, but also with the tippet. Wherever the leader lands, the fly follows. Accuracy holds a complexity that is not for the faint of heart. But here’s one tip that guarantees immediate improvement right away.

Podcast — Ep. 5: Fly Fishing the Mono Rig — Versatility and the Tight Line Advantage Taken Further

After hundreds of Troutbitten articles featuring the versatility of the Mono Rig, now there’s a podcast. My friends Josh, Austin, Trevor and Bill join me to discuss how each of us fishes this hybrid rig as a complete fly fishing system, detailing the ultimate flexibility of this amazing tool.

The Troutbitten Mono Rig is a hybrid system for fishing all types of flies: nymphs (both tight line and indicator styles), streamers, dry-dropper, wets, and small dry flies. With twenty pound monofilament as a fly line substitute, better contact, control and strike detection are gained with the Mono Rig versus a traditional fly line approach. And yet, the casting here is still a fly line style cast. Ironically, it takes excellent fly casting skills to efficiently throw a Mono Rig.

Finding the (Almost) Invisible Potholes — Reading Water

Just as the taller rock creates a surface wave, the pothole, bucket or depression in the riverbed has a corresponding feature on the surface. It’s a flatter, calmer piece of water — smoother than the surrounding surface currents. Is it harder to recognize? Sure it is. It’s also not as reliable of a sign. But quite often, if you find a calm piece of water, surrounded by mixed currents and minor waves, a pothole lies below.

Be careful what you’re reading, though. The stall, or slower piece of water that lies just downstream of every rock, is not the same thing as a pothole — not at all . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #20 — Find the Best Light Angles, and See What You’re Fishing

Finding these angles becomes intuitive. Without thinking much about it, I usually set myself up with the sun behind or to my side, avoiding the surface glare of direct light. As I fish upstream I might work left bank to right, moving perpendicular across the stream flow until I reach the right bank. Then I quickly wade left again, back to the left bank, to start over on the next line — like a classic Underwood typewriter printing out one sentence at a time, just to see into the water, see my fly or watch my sighter . . .

Podcast — Ep. 4: Wild Trout vs Stocked — The Hierarchy of River Trout

My friends join me for an honest discussion about the trout we pursue. All of us fish for every kind of trout on the list: wild trout, stocked trout, holdovers, fingerlings and club trout. And all of these trout hold value — but not equally. There are major differences in the types of trout we catch, and stocked fish are often nothing like their wild counterparts . . .

#8. The Strike: Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing

The strike is the best part of fishing. It’s what we’re all out there waiting for, or rather, what we’re trying to make happen all day long. And the trout eats because we get so many things right.

We fool a fish, and we fulfill the wish of every angler.

When the fish strikes, we strike back. Short, swift and effective, the hook finds fish flesh. Then we try to keep the trout buttoned and get it to the net.

In the next article, this series concludes with the focus on putting it all together . . .

The Backing Barrel Might Be The Best Sighter Ever

A simple piece of Dacron, tied in a barrel, is a visible and sensitive addition to your tight line and euro nymphing rig. The versatile Backing Barrel serves as a stand-alone sighter, especially when tied with a one-inch tag. Better yet, it draws your eyes to the colored monofilament of any sighter and enhances visibility threefold. The Backing Barrel adds a third dimension of strike detection, with the Dacron flag just stiff enough to stand away from the line, but just soft enough to twitch upon even the most subtle takes . . .

Explore | Learn | Return Sticker

$5.00

The miles of river around you might seem endless, like you could fish for the rest of your life and never see it all. But given a couple decades of hard fishing, you may start to feel quite the opposite. The twisting rivers and rambling streams become your home. And each one within the perimeter of a reasonable driving distance is mentally marked as either explored and fishy or explored and fishless. Until eventually, the list of the unexplored disappears.

And to sustain a sense of adventure, your urge to reconsider the marginal water overtakes your parallel urge to go for the sure thing. Hunting for places beyond the obvious spots on the map becomes part of what you do, not only on fishing trips, but on your days off too.

READ: Troutbitten | Explore — Learn — Return

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  • Sticker is 4X5 inches
  • Printed with a UV and weather resistant finish
  • When mounted as a window decal on your vehicle, a Troutbitten sticker serves as inspiration to go fishing instead of running errands, every time you get in the car.

The Little League Series: Some Teams Are All Heart

I pulled over to check the map for a second time. A few cars whizzed by, fifteen feet away at seventy miles an hour, and I ignored the rocking motion of my own truck as the minor wave of flexing blacktop passed underneath my tires. Where’s the ball field? I scanned to...

Legendary

Because I couldn't fight back the tears, I turned away. Because I'd never had a moment where I felt such immediate loss, I surrendered to the defeat. The emotion was too big for a ten year old boy, and I fell apart. — — — — — — Hours earlier . . . I walked behind Dad...

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #30 — The best-laid plans of fishers and men often go awry

One of the particular joys of fishing is the preparation, the planning, the thinking and dreaming of what may come on our next trip to the river. We tie flies, check water conditions, pour over maps and share stories about the way things were last time. And so we...

This is Real Silence

Hatch Magazine published my story, "This is real silence." Excerpts . . . -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- . . . It can be dead silent on that mountain, quiet enough to remember a place in time with no interruptions, a day that started in a bustling, wide valley and...

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #43 — Two Ways to Recover Slack

Much of what we learn about fly fishing comes from instinct. Fishing, after all, is not that complicated. It does not take a special set of talents or years of study to figure most of this out for yourself. It just takes a tuned in, heads up approach out there on the...

One Thing at a Time

When I was a boy, my father often made this point: just do the next thing. Clear the mechanism and focus on one thing in life. Work hard until it’s done. At the end of May, for example, a good day on the water presents an array of opportunity. Everything is possible...

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