Catching Trout – Steps to Success For The Beginner
When Trout Fising – Inusre You Are In The Right Position
First, you must walk, wade, or maneuver your boat in the most favorable position relative to the fish. You may be the world’s best caster but unless you move to the best position, you are not planning your presentation.
The best position is one that gets you as close as possible to the fish without the fish seeing you, and one that inherently helps you defeat drag. Of course, the depth and speed of the water, trees and shrubs along the bank, the riverbank itself, and many other obstructions limit your options.
About Dry-Fly Fishing
In most dry-fly fishing, a “natural” presentation is dead-drift, which means your floating fly is moving at the same speed and direction as the surface current. Some insects such as stoneflies and caddis skitter or crawl across the surface of the water and require a “skated” dry fly. Other surface flies such as bass popping bugs require an active retrieve but aren’t normally referred to as dry flies.
Dry-fly fishing is considered by many anglers to be the most enjoyable kind of fly fishing. In subsurface fishing, you usually guess or try to predict where the fish is, you can’t see your fly or track its progress visually, and the strike is not visual—you must feel it or get visual clues from a strike indicator.
Dry Fly Presentations
There are five main presentation positions (below). Use an upstream or up-and-across presentation as much as possible. Use a downstream or down-and-across presentation for especially spooky trout in shallow, clear water. Use an across-stream presentation from a drifting boat or as a last resort while wading.
The Five Presentations of Casting Fly’s
The upstream presentation is often the easiest and most effective for dead-drifting dry flies because you are downstream or directly behind the fish. While you are in the trout’s “blind spot” (directly behind it) you can often get close to the fish—regularly within 30 feet or less.
Because the current is coming directly toward you, all you have to do is make a straight upstream cast directly over the fish. There is very little mending or fancy casting involved.
The fly line should land behind the fish, the leader should land just behind the fish, the tippet just over the fish, and the fly should land in front of the fish in its feeding lane. If you cast too far and allow the fly line to splash down on top of or in front of the fish where it is watching for food items (or predators) you will likely spook the fish and lose your opportunity. This is called “lining” the fish.
The Reach Cast Presentation
Use a reach cast after the end of your forward stroke, just as the line unrolls in the air. Reach your arm upstream while keeping the rod tip high and place the belly of the line farther upstream than the fly.
Make your reach cast at the end of a normal cast, just as the line unrolls in the air. Reach your arm far to the side (upstream), while keeping the rod tip high, and lean your body to the side to place the belly of the line farther upstream than the fly. The extra length of line on the water, positioned upstream of the fly, may give your fly enough time to drift naturally down to the trout.
The Upstream Mend Presentation
The upstream mend is similar to a reach cast, but occurs after the line is already on the water. To make an upstream mend, lift your rod tip high and with a flick of the wrist, place a bow of line upstream.
Mending is a line control/manipulation method that happens after the line is already on the water, and your fly is drifting toward the target. If you are making an up-and-across presentation, and can see that the current is dragging the belly of the fly line and will soon drag the fly, you can make an upstream mend to counteract it. To make an upstream mend, lift your rod tip high—try to lift only the line that is dragging—and then with an upstream flick of the wrist, “mend” the line upstream.
The Tug Cast Presentation
To make a tug cast, overshoot your target and as the line unrolls in the air, and the fly passes your target, tug or jerk the line backward slightly so your fly hits the target and the extra line in your system falls to the water in a series of slack curves.
To make a tug cast, put more line in the air than you need, as if you are about to overshoot your target. As the line unrolls in the air, jerk or tug the line backward slightly so your fly hits the target and the extra line in your system falls into a series of S curves on the water.
Nymph Fly Fishing Is Imitating the Nymphal Form Of Aquatic Insects
While nymphing, you generally dead-drift your flies just as you do when dry-fly fishing, but you are drifting them close to the bottom where the fish are.
To make an S-cast, stop the rod on your forward cast as usual, and as the line falls to the water, make a series of side-to-side rod movements to throw slack into your line.
Most fly fishermen use strike indicators when they are nymphing, and while this is a good choice for most people most of the time, strike indicators aren’t always required and sometimes are not the best choice.
Tight-line nymphing, short-line nymphing, and high-sticking all refer to a technique where you stand close to your target area and intentionally keep your fly line off the water by keeping the line “tight” between the weight near your nymphs (sometimes a heavy nymph is the weight), and your rod tip.
By using a heavily weighted rig and a tight line, you can feel the flies drag, bounce, and tumble along the bottom, and you follow their drift closely with your rod tip.
Use two flies only after you are confident about your casting skills. Attach the second fly with a 12- to 18-inch piece of monofilament tied to the bend of the first fly. If you are nymphing, pinch your split-shot between the two nymphs.
Increasing Your Odds When Nymph Fishing
If you can comfortably and smoothly cast two flies without creating a tangle, attach one nymph at the end of your tippet, and then tie a 12- to 18-inch piece of monofilament to the bend of that fly and use that tailing piece of monofilament to attach a second nymph. Pinch your split-shot to the tippet between the two flies, that way one fly will ride slightly higher in the water column. You’ll have greater contact with the top fly and better ability to detect strikes. The bottom fly will drift more naturally in the current and possibly attract more strikes, but the slack line between the weight and the nymph may cause you to miss a few more strikes.
In any two-fly nymph setup, try to use dissimilar patterns such as one dark and one light-colored fly, one small and one large fly, or one caddis and one mayfly. It doesn’t pay to have two similar flies on a tandem rig.
Strike Indicators When Fly Fishing
Fishing with a strike indicator is not only productive, it can be more visually entertaining because you fish the indicator like a dry fly: you drift it through the same places, mend the line upstream or downstream to control your drift and to avoid drag, and when the trout strikes your indicator shows the strike by pausing, twitching, or sometimes violently plunging underwater.
There are many types of indicators: sticky, pinch-on foam indicators;stick-on putty indictors; small and large corky-type indicators of all shapes made of painted Styrofoam; bushy yarn indicators; and many more.
Check with a local fly shop for options.
When the nymph and indicator hit the water, transfer the line to under the index finger of your rod hand and strip in line as the indicator drifts toward you for better hook sets. You can also raise your rod to take in slack, and in many cases it pays to keep the rod high to keep your line off the water and avoid currents that may pull the line and drag the indicator and flies.
Your goal is to create and maintain slack in your line so the indicator drifts freely, with no dragging influence from your end of the line. However, if you have too much slack in the line you won’t be able to pick it all up and set the hook when the strike comes. Have as little slack as possible to allow a dead-drift, and no more.
Using Streamers To Catch Trout
Streamer flies also tend to be relatively long and narrow and unlike hard metal conventional fishing lures they are made of mobile materials like bucktail, marabou, rabbit strips, and feathers that undulate in the water much like a flag flies in the wind.
Possibly the most popular streamer of all time is the Woolly Bugger, developed by Russell Blessing on Pennsylvania’s Manada Creek, and now used on streams around the world. The Woolly Bugger has thousands of variations like the Bow River Bugger, the Sculpinator, Krystal Bugger, Rubber Bugger, Beadhead Woolly Bugger, and the list goes on. The common denominator is the marabou tail and hackled chenille body.
Other important and useful streamers include Bob Clouser’s Deep Minnow, the Zonker, and the many variations of the Muddler Minnow.
Cast your streamer across or down-and-across and allow the current to draw the line across the river. Add extra action by stripping line to make the streamer move in short, jerky spurts. Step downstream after each cast to fish new water.
Illustrations by Rod Walinchus