Lee Whitehead photo
Never doubt a trout
Trout are smart fish.
Having said that, the trick to catching one is simple: you’ve got to outsmart them.
The majority of fly fishermen out on the river don’t take the time to think from a trout’s perspective. They are too determined to catch the fish and therefore completely overlook a very important process of fly-fishing, which is to think like a trout.
So what do trout see when they look up from their cool, comfortable stream home?
Think about it—better yet, think like a trout.
Most of the time trout see nothing unusual to their world, until some unaware fisherman comes along stomping through the river draped in thousands of dollars’ worth of the latest fishing gear, slipping and sliding around like snot on a rock while waving around a long stick and slapping it on the water’s surface.
Although this may seem like an exaggeration, this is exactly what most of us look like to a trout. And simply put, it is a big trout turn off.
Here are five simple tips that will increase your fly-fishing success wherever you go.
Tip #1 - Observe the River
Before you decide to make a beeline to the water’s edge, find a good vantage point of the river and observe what the trout are doing. This is a crucial part of being a good fisherman and will drastically improve your overall success rate. You will be surprised what information you can gather just from watching a trout’s behavior.
Tip # 2 - Stay Low
Most of trout’s predators come from above, such as birds and small mammals, so they are always looking up, which is why it is crucial to maintain a low profile, or stay low to the ground. Also, staying low will help eliminate the shadows your body casts onto the river.
Tip # 3 – The Three Cast Rule
Sometimes when we are out on the river, we make several repeated casts to one spot with no results. It’s frustrating—believe me. Most of the time, there are either no fish in that area, or they have been spooked and refuse to eat. The Three Cast Rule is very simple. Cast a maximum of three times to a specific area, and if you don’t get a strike move on. This will save you time and allow you to cover a lot more water in search of fish.
Tip # 4 – Match the Hatch
Trout, especially wild trout, are very selective when it comes to food. Anything that seems out of the ordinary to them, they won’t touch. For example, if yellow stoneflies are hatching and you are using a fly that imitates another insect, more times than not fish will ignore your fly. This is why it is important to be a “Fly Spy.” When you match the hatch, you are choosing your fly based on what is hatching on the river. One might ask, “But how do you know what insects are hatching?” There are two ways that I determine what the trout are feeding on. If the insects are hatching on the water’s surface, it is usually easy to see what size and color they are. This little trick will give you a good idea of what fly to choose. If the trout are feeding subsurface, it usually means that trout are feeding on nymphs, which are insects that have yet to hatch. To find these, select a decent sized rock in the river and turn it over. Usually there will be several nymphs clinging to the bottom of the rock that you can observe to make a selection.
Tip # 5 – Have Fun, Keep It Simple
Fly-fishing can be frustrating. Between the slippery rocks and abundant amounts of rhododendron to get tangled in, it’s a wonder why we even fool with it. But for me, it’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Just remember, when you keep it simple you keep it fun.
Without a doubt, it pays to be sneaky when dealing with trout.