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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 . . .

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The wild trout. No other game fish inspires such dedication in the angler. But it’s not just the challenge or the beauty of a trout that lures us — it’s the wild places where the pursuit of those trout take us. That’s how our passion settles in.

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Tight Line Nymphing | Where Should the Sighter Be?

What’s the sighter for? Ah, well that short length of colored line changes everything, doesn’t it? The twenty-inch chunk of vivid monofilament, tied into the leader just before the tippet section, is perhaps the most useful element in the Mono Rig. But how do we best...

When fishing for stockies, it may not pay to be ambitious

Western Pennsylvania, June, 2002. On a Wednesday morning, Brandon and I ditched a three-hour summer college course called “Oceans and Atmospheres” in favor of a more inspiring classroom. Weather was perfect, cool and cloudy with that late-spring feeling of freedom — a...

It’s Not the Same

** Note: This February 2016 story is revised and revisited here today. Sawyer skidded the truck sideways a little and pulled the e-brake as we lurched to a stop in the fly shop parking lot. He looked at me and grinned. "Be right back," he yelled, and he jogged up the...

A Fly Fisher’s Gift Guide — Troutbitten’s Favorite Books

I still get excited about a new fishing book. And I trust that will never change. After all these years, I still look forward to shedding the dust cover, stressing the binding and digging in. Whether it’s tactics or stories doesn’t matter. If it’s a book about a life...

Fly Casting — Don’t Reach

Whenever we learn a new skill, our tendency is to exaggerate the motions. Beginning guitar players, for example, arch their last finger joints too much, desperately straining to keep their fretting fingers away from the neighboring strings. Eventually, experience...

Where is My Fly?

Hatch Magazine published my article, "Where is my fly?" Being unaware of the fly's position holds us back from making effective drifts. That awareness starts with good casting and fly placement -- you need to see the fly hit the water. After that, it takes some...

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