More in Sports
River Valley Outdoors
A good fly fishing guide, like a seasoned coach, must point out a client’s errors and at the same time fill the day of fishing with positive congratulations.
In today’s column I’d like to briefly list a few pointers that seem to get lost amidst the high-tech chatter often associated with fly fishing. Far too many well-intended folks, while attempting to teach others how to fly fish, fill a new angler with so much information that they often lose some of the more subtle points of instruction.
This information is directed at those anglers that have already learned the basics of casting a fly rod, figured out the details of aquatic bug life, and feel as if they have a good grasp of reading water.
The number one piece of instruction that gets lost in the shuffle sounds like it would be the easiest bit of instruction to grasp.
Fly fishing is supposed to be fun
Don’t let a relaxing day on the water turn into a form of competition – if an angler tries to outdo another, or attempts to constantly “one-up” themselves, fly fishing enjoyment goes out the window.
Don’t get me wrong, most experienced fly rod fishers enjoy the never-ending hunt for a bigger fish. At the same time, any fly rodder that has been around for a while truly understands the simple pleasure of just being out on the river or lake. If an angler comes home sad and disappointed on fishless day, they need to take up another hobby.
Follow up every cast
When a casting technique seems to fail, and the offering drops short of the target, don’t let up on your focus. I can’t count the number of times I have given up on a cast that I assumed would fail and – boom, a fish attacks my fly.
Nowadays, as much as possible, I assume every cast I lay on the water may be the “big one.” A huge portion of fly anglers seem to think that the best cast is one that goes out fifty feet or more. The truth is that most fish are caught with casts of less than 30 feet.
Can’t catch fish unless the line is in the water
Even though I did once catch an Androscoggin River smallmouth bass with a fly that was suspended in the branches a good foot above water level, 99.9 percent of fish get hooked by a fly that is in the water.
Many inexperienced anglers get to the water and then waste a good portion of time putting their gear together, rather than fishing.
When I know I’ll be fishing the next day I do a complete pre-fishing prep the night before, even before I prepare the next day’s lunch. I tie up a few extra leaders so I don’t have to do it during the fishing trip. I also make sure to pre-thread flies that run smaller than a size 20 – it makes tying them on a breeze, even in failing light.
I make sure to fill my fishing vest with a little bit of everything I own. Some folks laugh, but at least I don’t have to stop fishing and run to the truck to get that special fly or extra tippet – and I can’t recall how many times a fishing buddy has “borrowed” an item they forgot to bring along.
Twitch a dry fly
While most dry fly imitations require a completely still, drag-free presentation, one trick can increase the hook-up rate. If the fish just don’t seem to be hitting your perfectly-still presentations, try the twitching method.
It takes a little practice to get the fly to move in a subtle manner, so make several presentations in dead water to perfect the method. Lay the line out in a drag-free manner, point the rod tip at the fly and take up the slack, and then gently shake the rod while keeping it pointed at the fly.
This technique, when perfected, will make the fly look as if it is stuck on the water’s surface. To a fish, the fly must look as if it is struggling – a struggling fly is an easy target for a hungry fish.
And last but not least, I’ll go back to point number one – relax and enjoy the day of fishing. Look for all the other things on the water, not just fish.
There are enough other hobbies or sports to throw your frustrations at, like golfing – but that’s another story.