Trout Fly Fishing - 7 Tips for Success on the River
Fresh water | Salt water | Flies | Tying | Casting | Gear | Fishing Reports | Places
by Captain Craig Crumbliss, Orvis Endorsed Guide, FFF Instructor, Author
As a fly shop located in Central Florida we're a good 8 hour drive from the closest coldwater trout streams, of course a 4 hour plane ride could take you to some great western rivers as well. Almost daily we equip fly anglers headed to fly fish for trout. In the last three summers of guiding in Colorado I've decided to put together some helpful tips and advice for the first time trout angler. Even if you're well versed in coldwater trout fly fishing you might find something helpful in the tips I've listed below:
1. Fish tandem (two fly) rigs. With just a few exceptions, if I'm trout fishing I'm fishing two flies. Most commonly it's a dry-dropper rig with a bushy dry fly and smaller beadhead nymph hanging below. I'll also use a tandem nymph rig under an indicator, and double dry fly rig if conditions allow. Two flies gives you more chances at fish and will also help you figure out what the fish are eating much more quickly than just fishing a single fly.
Tandem Rigs Article Click Here
2. Fish the swing. Towards the end of your drift you'll notice your flies are starting to drag and if you have a nymph dropper it will start to swing towards the surface. Just relax and let the nymph drift all the way up...it actually looks natural to the fish to see these bugs rising up in the water column. The best part about fishing the swing is if you have a take on the swing the fish will usually hook themselves.
3. Mend...please mend. My favorite phrase I heard in Colorado was among several of the guides that would tell their clients, "no mend, no bend". Mending takes time to get the correct touch to move just your flyline and not the flies. But it really is the difference between catching fish and not catching fish. Another tip when mending, specifically a tandem nymph rig is to make your cast a little further upstream and across, allow your rig to sink for a second, which will help anchor the flies when you make your first aggressive mend.
Illustration from Fly Fishing for Bass Handbook by Dave Whitlock
4. Minimize your casting. Excessive false casting never leads to anything good. You'll spook fish, big flies will twist your leader, and your chance of tangles is increased. Learn to use water tension to make your cast. At the end of your drift your flies will swing so they are directly downstream from you. If you point your rod directly downstream, you can in one stroke cast your flies back upstream to get another drift.
5. Watch your backcast. It's common for saltwater anglers to be so focused on the fish they are casting to that they don't watch their backcast. While you can get away with that when you are fishing from a boat or kayak it won't work on the trout stream. Watch your backcast and pick your casting lanes carefully so your flies spend more time on the water instead of in the trees.
6. Understand how your floatant works. A gel floatant should only be applied to flies when they are dry. After a few fish you'll need to dry your fly out before you apply more floatant. The dry powder floatant will help get all the water out. Also never apply gel floatant to flies with CDC fibers in them, only sure the dry powder for CDC flies.
For Information on Floatant, Click Here
7. Use plenty of weight. The most common mistake for fly anglers fishing deep holes and runs is their flies never make it far enough down to the fish. If you aren't ticking the bottom occasionally you need to add weight.
I always recommend first time fly anglers make their first fishing trip with a guide. You'll learn more in a couple hours with a good fly fishing guide than you would for months on your own. Even for an experienced saltwater angler, the first time on a trout stream can be intimidating and frustrating so having a guide is money well spent.
Comments are encouraged and appreciated!