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Fly vs Bait

I know this is a minority opinion. The average angler assumes that bait will fool more trout than an artificial. Just yesterday, I came across the frequently repeated assertion that bait outperforms flies. I saw it in print and heard it in dialogue on a podcast. It was stated as fact, as though no one could possibly argue otherwise. But it’s wrong. It’s a common wisdom that isn’t very wise. And I think those who believe that bait has the edge over flies have probably spent very little threading live bait on a hook and dunking it in a river . . .

Troutbitten on the Unhooked Podcast

I was pleased to be one of Spencer Durrant’s first guests on his new Unhooked podcast. We talked back in late March, and the conversation is now published and live . . .

Obsessions

We traded lengths of colored monofilament with the observational fascination and the collector’s bond of middle-school boys.

You Already Fished That

If you’re committed to working a section of river, then once you’ve done your job in one lane, trust what the trout tell you. Don’t re-fish it, and don’t let the next cast drift down into the same spot again either. Sure the water looks good, and that’s why you fished it in the first place. But you’ve already covered it. So let it go, and focus on the next target. Trust the next opportunity . . .

Canyon Caddis

Some of these caddis were swamped by the current or damaged by their acrobatic and reckless tumbling. And the broken ones didn’t last long. Large slurps from underneath signaled the feeding of the biggest trout, keying in on the opportunity for an easy meal.

Smith and I shared a smile at the sheer number of good chances. Trout often ignore caddis, because the emerging insects spend very little time on the surface, and trout don’t like to chase too often. But with a blanket hatch like this, the odds stack up, and trout were taking notice . . .

Play It As It Lies

The shifts and evolutions that a river succumbs to is captivating to watch. It’s a slow motion reel in your mind, spanning twenty years of fishing around the same small island. Until one day, after the flood waters recede, you walk down the trail to find the whole island gone.

I want an experience as close to what nature intended as possible on this twenty-first century planet. And messing with a river’s placement of things just isn’t for me.

It’s the river’s decision.

Keep it wild . . .

Natural vs Attractive Presentations

. . . Let’s call it natural if the fly is doing something the trout are used to seeing. If the fly looks like what a trout watches day after day and hour after hour — if the fly is doing something expected — that’s a natural presentation.

By contrast, let’s call it attractive if the fly deviates from the expected norm. Like any other animal in the wild, trout know their environment. They understand what the aquatic insects and the baitfish around them are capable of. They know the habits of mayflies and midges, of caddis, stones, black nosed dace and sculpins. And just as an eagle realizes that a woodland rabbit will never fly, a trout knows that a sculpin cannot hover near the top of the water column with its nose into heavy current . . .

How To Be A More Accurate Fly Caster

Only a small percentage of anglers have the necessary accuracy to tackle the tough situations. And big trout seem to know where to hide from average anglers.

In fact, accuracy is the most important skill an angler can learn. The simple ability to throw a fly in exactly the same place, over and over, with subtle, nuanced differences in the tippet each time, is the most valuable skill for any fisherman . . .

Fish Hard Sticker

$5.00

The Troutbitten mantra is to fish hard and have fun doing it. Have a reason you are walking into the water, and get after it.

At some point in time, every angler returns home after a slow day of fishing and says, “Hey, it was nice just to be out there.”

Sure it was. But the novelty of just being out there lasts only a short time. Without the goal of catching trout, none of us would find ourselves walking a water-filled path upstream very often. Catching trout is what brings us back time and again. So fish hard. And have fun learning whatever is next.

— — —

  • 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.

Natural vs Attractive Presentations

I’ve been fishing with Smith for over a decade now. And when we first met, he was an inexperienced but eager angler with a pile of questions. Much of what he knew about fly fishing at the time had been learned intuitively, from time spent on the water answering his...

What about the wading staff? Thoughts on choosing and carrying a wading stick

The first time I carried a wading staff, I was on a trip to the Youghiogheny River in western PA. With its big gnarly rocks, heavy currents and unpredictable footing, the wading situation on this deep and wide river is never easy and often precarious. While traveling...

Night Shift – Into the Dark

You can't stand up to the night until you understand what's hiding in its shadows.  -- Charles De Lint Last June I made a commitment. I promised myself that I would go deep into the night game and learn to catch the wildest trout in the darkest hours. Having spent a...

Winter Welcome Home

** Author's Note ** This Troutbitten story was originally written in the winter of 2016.. It is updated and expanded here. God, I love the winter. I slammed the 4Runner's hatch and heard it -- nothing, just silence. In this cold canyon, sharp sounds reverberate off...

Be a Mobile Angler

There are two common problems that hold anglers back more than anything else: an aversion to tying knots and a resistance to wading. While successful knot tying is about practice and repetition, confident wading is both an acquired skill and one that you prepare for....

Lost Fishing Friends

They all come and go. The friends we love eventually leave. Some find jobs across the country, moving hundreds of miles away, with a promise to keep in touch or return with frequency, to rekindle old fishing memories and cast again to all the familiar haunts. But such...

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