All the different flies stuffed neatly into our boxes unsure as to what they might want to eat today. Will they want drys, nymphs or perhaps the streamers. How deep will they be sitting will they be coming up to the surface. Will they want caddis or mayfly patterns maybe midges or stone flies, all the different options start to race through your head, and so the puzzle begins.
Fly fishing techniques for trout are an ever-changing thing, and can drastically change even throughout the day on the river, being prepared for whatever is going to happen is your best bet at staying successful on the river. In this article I will go over some of the many techniques we use on a daily basis on the water to keep the fish biting and the smiles going.
Casting and the importance of a good drift
One of the most important things for any angler hoping to get a few bites is there cast, being a guide I have taught many anglers over the years how to cast a rod and it’s probably one of the most important techniques in the sport of fly fishing to master. Having a solid over hand cast and a solid role cast are the fundamentals to staying successful on the water.
Spending some time to work on your accuracy and your distance will go along way when on the river. Being able to double haul in the parking lot, will get you know where tho if you don’t know how to perform a decent role cast when your tight against the bank and have a feeding trout up in front of you. Learning as many casting techniques as possible is a great idea and will improve you overall skills as an angler.
After your cast hits the water the mend and line management comes in to play which is another huge factor to getting that hungry trout to eat. I’ve always believed that a good drift will catch more fish than the right bug dragged through the water. For me it has always been about getting that perfect cast to a drag free drift, that has brought in the smartest of trout.
A solid mend, and a good drift is especially crucial when fishing to weary trout with drys. When fishing with nymphs or wet flies this provides a great time to learn how to perform a decent mend and drift to help improve your fly fishing techniques for trout.
Fly choices and matching the hatch
When approaching the water always be aware of the insect life that is around, this will help you tremendously to figuring out what the trout might be eating and will give you a leg up on hooking the first trout of the day. Generally the size of the fly is of great importance and I tend to try and match that first and than narrow in on the color and spieces.
A lot of times the fish well be feed on subsurface insect life, As this makes up almost seventy five percent of there diet so if there are no adults hatching in the air flipping a rock is a good method for figuring out what kinda insects the trout may be feeding on under the water. Again matching the size and color is always your best bet and than trying to match the specific bug, if that is not working
Some times of year the trout will be chasing smaller fish especially in still water situations so knowing the water and what particular bait fish are in it will help you to match your streamer color and increase your bites tremendously. Watching the banks and keeping a good eye out for all these things will help you become a more well-rounded angler and increase your fish to net ratio.
Leader length, & tippet size
When you first starting out casting a seven foot leader is ideal, it will help you to turn the fly over quicker and be more accurate with your cast. As you get better with casting you will find that a nine or ten foot leader will get you more hook ups and in some situations like still water and slow moving rivers a fifteen to twenty foot leader is what is needed for picky trout.
The water clarity also becomes a factor and that is where adding tippet becomes a completely new issue as well. Down sizing your tippet when water is clear will increase your hook ups but will also make the fight a little more difficult. If the water is dirty a thicker tippet size is perfectly except able and can help you to land fish faster and more effectively.
Leaders for nymphing is a whole different matter and I personally like to build them myself, having a smaller tippet size at the top will help to get your flies down quicker and more effectively to the trout. Building your own leader also allows for you to help set your depth more accurately and can help you get as deep as you need to the feeding trout.
Fighting the fish
One of the toughest fly fishing techniques for trout has to be fighting and landing, every angler out their has the story of the one that got away some anglers more than others. The main thing to remember is to keep solid pressure on the trout and keep control of his head without pulling to hard and breaking the line.
Changing angles and turning there head is a quick way to take them off there lateral line which tires them out at a much quicker pace. You can also stop them by adjusting your rod angle adjacent of there direction, this can help stop them from running into unwanted structures like banks logs and anything else that they can wrap around and loose the hook.
Staying below the trout on the river is another effective way to keeping good tension and keeping the fly pulling in the right direction. Any time a trout can get below you on the river you are essentially helping him to pull the fly out of his mouth so if you can keep your feet moving and stay down stream of them you’re going to see more fish hit the net.
One more major thing I have seen over the years is losing trout when they go air born, if the trout is a jumper and a lot of them are try and release tension while they are in the air. This is easier said the done but if you don’t release tension as the fish goes into the air your chance of them spiting the fly are very high.
Watching the river, not rushing, and observing
One of the biggest mistakes most anglers make is putting together a rig at the car rushing down to the water and start throwing at the first spot they see. Taking your time in the morning to walk down to the river and see what is going on, you might notice a hatch or a trout rise, the water may be dirty all of these clues can help you in setting up a proper rig.
When approaching the river, remember to walk slowly and approach with cover on your back, try not to stomp up the bank trout have great vision and will def see you, if you come up the bank aggressively, they will most likely see you and move away. Trout vision is made to determine predators and are likely to spoke if they see something coming in from above. Also, try not to wear bright clothing when you are fishing try and blend in to your surroundings and keep it stealth.
Taking a moment to observe the water and take a break can lead you to finding fish that you never knew were there, Once you have spotted a fish, this is when all the fun begins, make sure you take note of where he is feeding if you can what he is feeding on and approach the situation accordingly, switching your rig if need. Sight fishing is one of the most exciting types of fly fishing for me and something I am always looking for while on the river.
Learning from your mistakes
Every day on the river is a new chance to learn, most of the lessons are hard-earned and come in the form of mistakes made. Spooking the large trout you’ve been looking for all day, plopping down a bad cast in front of him, or snapping him off once you’ve hooked him, all are unfortunate situations but good chances to learn and grow as an angler.
Picking the right bugs is also something that can be a challenge, also running the right size tippet and leader, when fishing in clear water you may spook some fish and you may catch some but learning from these experience is what going to help you improve as an angler.
Just remember that all the fly fishing techniques for trout, are at your disposal and taking your time when on the water and picking the right one for the situation will help you to become a more experienced angler and have a better time on the water, if you have any question at all feel free to leave a comment on the page below and ill get back to you as soon as possible.
If you have ever seen an experience angler on the water it sure looks like they have a lot of different equipment, with all sorts of different tools and gadgets hanging off their vests or bags and huge boxes of flies, and giant spools of tippet.
Keeping it to a minimal amount of gear it will help you to stay on the water and stay less confused as a beginner, less is more or so they would say.
Figuring out what you need to get started is definitely a challenge but if, you only get what you need picking out your gear can be easy and fun.
First thing you need to do is to determine where you’re going to be spending the majority of your time on the water, next you need to figure out the right rod and reel for yourself, then which flies and accessories you are going to want with you.
We get a lot of emails and questions related to the gear and equipment that beginner fly fisherman need to get started, in this article well try to go over the basics, and what will help you choose the best set up for you in particular, to make you the most successful on the water of your choice.
Where you’re going to spend your time on the water
One of the first thing you need to determine is where you are going be spending the majority of your time on the water, whether you’re going be fishing small creeks, bigger rivers, tail waters, still water, saltwater, high alpine lakes, the list goes on and on.
You’ll also need to determine what species of fish you are going to be targeting, Trout, Bass, Carp, Pike, Salmon, or one of the many saltwater species their are out their.
Once you’ve decided where and what you’re going be chasing, you can then decided what kinda of equipment you’re going need. For example if you’re going be spending the majority of your time fishing on small creeks and high alpine lakes for smaller trout, your probably going to want a smaller softer rod. This will help you to cast in a tighter area and allow for a more enjoyable fight and overall fishing experience.
If you’re going to be fishing larger still waters or salt waters for bigger fish species, a larger rod will allow you to cast farther distances and help bring in the fish at a faster rate.
As you get more and more into flyfishing you will get more familiar with what you need, and what kinda of gear you need for whatever species you will be targeting.
So don’t worry too much about buying everything right off, you want to spend as much time on the water as possible and you will find out what works best for you, everyone has their own preferences and so you will build up your gear around what works best for you.
Importance of picking the right rods and reels
Picking out your first rod and reel is a very important step to being successful on the water, once you have determine where you are going be spending your time on the water getting your first setup is next. Rods and Reels come in many sizes from a 0wt’s all the way to 14wt’s.
The 0’s being the softest and 14’s being the stiffest, basically if you’re going to be targetting small fish a softer rod is more fun and is more accurate in tight areas. If you’re going to be targeting larger species a stiffer rod is going to allow for more backbone during the fight and a longer casts.
For beginner trout fisherman I would almost always recommend a 5/6 wt rod and reel combo, this setup will be effective on almost any river you’re going to be fishing, and can also be used on most still waters.
I would also recommend just getting a complete set up, that way you can get straight on the water. If, you know the surrounding rivers are smaller then a 4/5 wt combo will also work.
For beginner still water and saltwater fly fisherman I would recommend picking up an 8/9wt combo setup, this will be effective for most species that you will be targeting and will also be soft enough to help you learn to cast effectively.
You can always pick up a bigger rod once you have decided that you need something stronger but and 8/9 should do the job to start. If you’re going to be targeting bass or carp I find a 7 wt to be perfect
Having the right rod and reel setup will make your time on the water so much more effective and fun, so make sure you pick out the right gear for your self and then hit the water, you will learn from time on the water and will soon know exactly what you need.
Thing to keep in mind when buying Gear
Fly fishing gear for beginners should be picked out slowly as you work your way into the sport, I see it all the time on the river where a guy has all the gear in the world and no clue what he is doing.
He almost bought so much stuff that he is confused as to what everythings purpose is. Just keep it simple and try not over complicate yourself out their and you’ll be way more successful.
Buying the most expensive gear doesn’t mean you’re going to be the most successful on the water, as a beginner your not going to know the difference between a 1000$ sage X and a 200$ orvis clear water, so don’t worry too much about not have the best rod on the market.
Equipment you’re going to want when you first start.
- fly line & backing
- tippet, leaders,
- nippers, hemostat
- small bag
- wading gear
The list above is the basics to get you on the water but you don’t need all of them for your first day on the water, your probably going to need the first five items, but you can make it work without the rest.
Rod and reel, backing and fly line are essential, tippet and leader are another essential to being effective on the water, and then some flies to catch the fish. If you have just these items you can get out their and give it a go.
A good pair of nippers will help you to tie on new tippet and flies, and a pair of hemos for when you catch some fish to get the hook out easily and quickly. A good pair of polarized sunglasses will help to spot fish in the water so I think its one of the best things you can buy.
A net will help you get the fish in way more effectively and well make your landing rate go up tremendously. A small bag or vest will help to carry all this stuff with you and keep you more organized on the water.
Wading gear is not essential at first but it will help you to get to more effective place to cast from, which will help you get to more fish.
The major thing to think about when buying fly fishing gear for beginners is that you don’t over complicate things let your self grow into your equipment, and buy what you need as you grow as an angler.
Some of the best days I’ve ever had on the water all I brought was my rod and a handful of flies, keeping it simple is important, so try not to over think everything and get out their and enjoy the water.
Flies and what to remember as beginner
Picking out the right flies can be one of the most intimidating factors, most beginners think that their is always some magic fly out their that is just going to make the fish come straight over to their line.
The fact is that most of the time, fly placement or the drift is what gets most fish to eat. Having the right fly can most certainly help you catch more fish but their is a lot of generalist patterns that will catch fish day after day in any conditions.
There are many types of flies out their from dry flies, to nymphs, to wet flies, and streamers. They all have their place and are all used differently threw out flyfishing. Dryflys are fished on the top surface of the water, and represent adult bugs on top of the water.
Nymphs and wet flies are fished under water and represent bugs underneath the water this is probably the most effective way of trout fishing due to the fact that 90 percent of trouts diet is on subsurface bugs.
As for streamer fishing this is probably the most effective way to catch predator species, mostly used in salt water and still water fishing. Streamers represent smaller bait fish and are fished under water and meant to appear as an easy prey for larger species.
This a very effective way of catching larger species such as bass, pike, carp, larger trout, and most saltwater species
Once you understand what the diet for the species you are targeting you can effectively target them and you will defiantly be catching more fish.
This is one of the most interesting parts of flyfishing to me, because every body of water things are different and you will learn how to catch fish in all sorts of places as you go along.
Spending more time on the water
The more time you spend on the water as a beginner the more you will learn and every day you will get better and better, my best advice to any beginner fly fisherman is to get yourself a setup and get out on the water. The things you will learn will be the building blocks of your flyfishing life.
Get your self some basic gear and hit the water you’ll be amazed at the places flyfishing will take you and can truly find yourself in some of the most spectacular places in the world.
I hope this article helps you with some basic knowledge to getting you into your first setup and hope you enjoyed, if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below and we will get back to as soon as possible.
Never the less, I can remember the first time I saw a large mouth come out of the bank and destroy my fly. I instantly knew that this was something I was going to be obsessed with.
Fly fishing for bass, is a challenge and there are def a couple secrets that will help, any angler to getting more hook ups and landing more fish.
These tips will help to keep you from getting frustrated as your buddy with his spinning gear brings them in left and right. Bass fishing is the most popular sport fish in the world and should be enjoyed buy flyfishing anglers as well. Once you start to dial in your skills still water fishing for all sorts of species will open up.
When to hit the Water:
Ideal water temps for bass are around 75-85 degrees so trying to nail the temps is always the best bet to being successful. Early spring and late fall are generally the best time for fly fisherman but if you wanna give it a go in the mid summer heat your best bet is early in the morning or late in the evening.
Most conventional fisherman will be able to slam bass all day in the summer, but that doesn’t apply the same for flyfishing, they can cast farther and more accurately. The Best time for the fly is early in the morning or late in the day, this is because the bass will be in the shallow water and be more in the zone for us as fly fisherman.
Gear guys can cover more water and can fish from farther away we don’t have the same distance on are cast and we should be aware of this. If you do wanna try mid day I suggest bring a sink tip line so that you can get your flies down quickly into low cover where the bass are probably waiting in the summer.
Night fishing can also be productive if your willing to stay up late and be on the water. This is defiantly a good time to slam some bigger bass as like most fish the bigger fish will be on the hunt during the night.
When night fishing don’t be afraid to step up the size of your flies, this can produce some massive fish and is always exciting.
Remember bass will feed almost anytime of the day but putting your self on the water at the best times will help to be more successful.
Using the right stick for the Job
I generally run a seven weight rod and reel set up when i’m fishing for bass. A medium action rod is perfect for the job as you will have accuracy and power. Eight weight setup are also a good option you will get a longer cast and that can also be very helpful.
I went out with my buddy once and he brought his five weight trout rod and struggled all day to get the heavy flies in the zone and to bring in the fish he actually manged to hook. Trust me getting the right rod is clutch and will help to keep your arm from wearing out.
Having both a float line and a sink tip is also helpful, you will probably use the float line most of the time but it never hurts to have that sinker as well. Lots of times ill bring my eight weight setup with the sink tip on it and ill have my seven with the float line that way i’m ready to fire if I wanna get the fly low quick
Flies and Casting
The bonus about bass fishing is that you don’t have to worry so much, about your fly selection or your cast. This is why bass fishing is great for novice fly fisherman. All you need is to head down to the pond and giver her some casts.
Now for the more experienced anglers a good double haul is clutch for those long distance cast and being accurate is gonna help to hit the spot and not lose your flies.
Having a good selection of clouser minnows, wolly buggers, perch patterns, crawdad patterns, and leeches, should be good start. As you get more dialed on your lake you’ll figure out what works best at what time of year so dint be afraid to switch things up.
Poppers are another great options and are probably my favorite way to fish for bass. Poppers are best used right before sunset and early in the morning. In my experience smaller poppers work the best and big fish will inhale them and setting the hook become way easier.
Keep your tip down, and line tight
This is not trout fishing keep your tip down the whole time you are stripping and setting the hook. If you lift your hand and set like a trout you will miss most the fish that strike. I like to put my rod tip in the water while stripping this way even if you try to lift your hand the water will help keep it down.
Another major thing is keeping the line tight, sometimes the bite will be very subtle and if your line is not tight you won’t feel the bite. So try to keep direct tension on the line at all times and your hookup rate will increase.
Lastly experiment with your strips, strip fast, strip slow, pause while stripping change up frequently. Try to figure out what they want and you’ll be in the money. In my experience the bigger fish sometimes hit softly so if you see and type of line shift give a good hard strip set and hold on it could just be a fish of a lifetime.
Get out and explore
Fly fishing for bass is a great time and should be on every fly anglers list of things to do, from experienced anglers to beginners. There really is nothing like watching a predator slam your fly and bass have some of the most aggressive takes in the world.
Getting out and checking every inch of your local ponds is how you will truly dial in where the bass like to hold. If its from about or from shore changing location and covering water is gonna tell you a lot about your local water.
There is a reason it is the most popular sport fish in the world, they are aggressive and love to eat. If you hit it on the right day it can be some of the most action filled day you can ave on the water.
As always if you have any questions just leave me a line and ill get back to you as soon as possible.
In still water the trout are constantly on the move and it can be very difficult to tell where there going to be. Once you figure out the basics tho, fishing still water can be very rewarding and you have a chance at some giant trout.
I first started still water fly-fishing in the high alpine lakes in Colorado, chasing the beautiful cutthroat trout that are locked away high in the mountains.
Some days when the fish were cruising the banks and were looking up for drys I had great success. Other day tho the fish would be low and cruising shelf and I could catch a darn thing.
I quickly figured out I needed more techniques for catching on those tough days because walking back five miles empty-handed was getting very old. As I learn some new techniques the fishing became way easier every day I was up there.
Having a boat when fishing still water does help especially in the hot summer months but almost all the same principles apply when looking for where the trout are located. So if you don’t have a boat you can still get out there and be effective.
I soon realized I could use these same techniques on much bigger bodies of water and started really pulling in some nice fish. Stillwater fly-fishing definitely comes with patients but will make you a much more complete angler and you’ll be able to catch much larger trout.
Reading the water
Just like on the river, you need to learn to read the water when fishing still water. This process is definitely a little different because there are no moving parts. A lot of the same principles due apply tho, use your eyes and look for cruisers. And don’t start wildly casting until you’ve surveyed the water.
I almost will always start at any of the inlets or outlet, this brings in a good source of food for the trout and you will almost always find trout near this source.
Next I look for structure, this could be almost anything that’s down in the water. An old stump a rock or anything that will give trout something to hide behind and ambush prey. Grass and weed beds are also a good source of structure so use them to your advantage as well.
If you don’t have any of those things around it’s time to look for buckets or shelves. Basically anywhere there is a change in the depth of the water. Trout will cruise deep and come up to eat, or they will cruise the shallows and that drop in the depth for protection.
Once you have taken a look around the body of water it’s time to pick your optimal position and start fishing.
Rigs and Line selection
Now that you have figured out the main points of water you are going to be focusing your effort on, the next step is picking out your rig type and the fly line you’ll be using. I generally carry with me a float line and a sink tip line of some sort. When I’m fishing big lakes I carry multiple types of sink lines. I’ll even carry multiple rods so I can switch from my float line to my sink line without changing everything up.
The next question I would ask myself would be have I seen risers or braziers, or have I not seen any fish which might suggest to me that the fish are hanging lower in the water.
If you’ve seen fish feeding on the surface, it’s probably in your best interest to put a dry of some sort on, this means the trout are looking up and will probably come up to take a look at your fly.
Try to match the hatch right size and color, as close as you can. The next thing I would do would put a nymph two to three feet below my dry, lots of time they will see the dry and come to investigate and eat your nymph on the way up or down.
If the surface is rather quiet I would that assume that the fish are feeding lower in the water column, so I would start building a nymph rig that would cover multiple levels of the water. Maybe a two or three bug rigs with a good two to three feet in between each fly. You’ll be able to cover different depths and be very effective this way.
If that’s not working I would that move to my sink tip set up and start throwing streamers. Here you want to vary your sinks count after the fly hits the water let it sink to different depths and go from there. Count to five and begin stripping on your first cast that count to ten and so on until your reaching the bottom. Also, varying the speed of your strips is something to try as well.
You can do these process in any way you see fit but these are the three major rig that will be successful on most still water fisheries for trout.
Depth, Depth, Depth,
figuring out the depth at which the trout are is vary important when still water fishing. If your flies are too high the fish will not move out of there cruising path generally to eat. Again if your flies are too low they will not move down to eat so nailing the depth will make a huge difference.
Running and adjustable indicator will help you move your depth quickly and effectively, If your not getting bites change your depth. Changing depth should be your first move after fishing your indicator with no response. I’ve noticed that trout will generally feed more to the right depth over the right bug so keep adjusting until you start getting strikes.
Same goes with streamers make sure you aren’t constantly using the same retrieve and the same pause unless it is working. Some of the best still water fishermen I’ve ever met are the best a making slight changes to there depth until the have locked in the fishes zone.
Depth in still water is everything so remember to make it a priority when your out there and your hook up rate will increase tremendously.
Understanding food sources
Every body of water has different food source, so learning the bugs in your chosen water will also play a huge role in how many fish you bring to net.
Most stillwater fisheries have scuds, chronimids, caliebatis, leeches, and many different types of bugs you find out the river. I have a lake box that I use specifically for when I’m fishing still water.
The flies you use on the river will work in lakes and ponds but if you dial in on what’s in your home water you’ll be amazed at how much more fish you begin to catch.
Attractor patterns are also huge in the still water game I like running a dead drifted leach as my attractor in most still water situations. But a San Juan worm or and egg pattern will also bring fish over to your flies and help bring in more fish.
Keeping and eye on the bait fish in the water is also very important and understand what the larger trout are feeding on will help when you are stripping streamers. If there is crawdads or leeches or are they simply eating smaller trout. Understanding the food sources in your particular fishery will help to land some amazing trout.
Time of year
I find that spring and fall are the best times for fishing for trout in most still water fisheries, this is due to the trout cruising in shallow water. During hot summer months the trout will some times be so deep it’s hard to get to them with a fly.
Spring is probably my favorite and right after the ice comes off the water the trout are normally cruising hard looking for food after a long winter of eating small bug.
Summer becomes a bit more challenging but you can definitely have success, stripping streamers is normally my go to with a vary heavy sink tip line. Having a boat or float tube helps a lot during the summer as the trout tend to be out towards the middle of the lakes
Fall the trout move back to the banks and are look hard for food before winter sets in and can be a great time to land some big tout.
Still water Rewards
Still water fly-fishing is definitely a challenge, there is a lot to learn and things can change on a daily basis. But once you start to nail in your rigs and bugs the fishing can be amazing. Some days you won’t be able to keep the trout off the line and it can be as fun as any river in the world.
The other bonus to fishing still water is the trout can grow much larger in big lakes so you have a chance at some true trophies. Some of the biggest fish in my life have come out of still water
Still water can also give you some where to go when the river are dirty and or running too high, this is probably the major reason I got into still water fishing. Trying to stay on the water even when the conditions weren’t right on the river.
The major thing is to give it time and have some patients because it’s a much slower process that the river so don’t give up when you’ve had a hard day. Take it as a learning experience and keep after it. If you have any question about Still water fly-fishing leave a comment at the bottom and ill get back as soon as possible.