* Guest post by Jake Connor, a Michigan angler with extensive fly fishing experience. Although geared more towards rivers, the three fly fishing tips he discusses are also very applicable for stillwaters. …
Three Simple Trout Fly Fishing Tips
Becoming a Better Fly Fisher
It’s great to have the mindset that failure and mistakes are just opportunities to learn from; there are no mistakes just lots of learning opportunities – lots and lots of opportunities. With fishing, the same is true!
When I’m out fishing I always try to encourage a mindset of “proving yourself wrong”. What do I mean by “proving yourself wrong”? Take some rule, tactic or method and try to disprove it. I’m sure most anglers can relate about catching fish while not following their ‘correct’ rules/methods on hooking up fish.
However, after many years of fishing with that mindset I’ve settled on three rules to internalize as trying to disprove these have always contributed to some very unsuccessful days on the water.
Fly Fishing Tips | Let the Fly Fish:
All things considered, this is probably the most common thing I see while fly fishing. I often see someone setting up in a new position, cast but the fly didn’t quite land as they wanted. Immediately, without thinking, rip it back and try again. Why not let the fly fish?
By ripping the fly out off the water, you run the risk of spooking the fish in the area. By letting it fish, you can gradually allow it to drift to a place where lifting it from the water won’t be quite as disruptive. This leads us to the second part of this tip: you should learn how to lift the fly from the water without causing too much disruption.
How can you achieve this? It’s all about the line and slack management. For me, I always want to be in contact with the fly before lifting it from the water – what do I mean by this? I make sure that the movement that I make with the rod by lifting it up has a direct impact on the fly itself. By finding this point you can lift the fly with minimal disturbance to the water.
Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. As long as you have your setup and some water, you can spend a few minutes practicing the technique. Over time, you’ll notice that the splash you make gets smaller and smaller. You can also do this with nymph rigs and indicators.
Initially, I found it a little difficult but I slowly got better and better at it, until it became second nature. If you can master this, those darting silhouettes of trout in response to flies being torn off the surface will be a thing of the past.
Fly Fishing Tips | Be Better at Line Management:
As a general rule, slack should be seen as the enemy. Of course, there will always be special circumstances and currents where slack can achieve the right drift but this isn’t quite what I’m trying to highlight here. Instead, I want to focus on big bellies of line that tend to form in the current or spill from the guides.
Trout are tactical eaters and can be very clever when differentiating between real food and, unfortunately for us fly fishing anglers, something that isn’t food (like our flies and metal hooks). As soon as a trout eats the fly, we need to be in contact with the fly so we can set the hook as quickly as possible.
How is this achieved? Firstly, one of the biggest problems that I have personally witness is that anglers are stripping in excess line once the fly drifts in their direction. Although this may sound simple to avoid, I understand how easy it is to get caught up hunting for that trophy trout – and while doing so, those 10 feet of extra line is now pulling the fly in unnatural ways as it travels downstream. Once a fish takes the fly when there’s too much extra slack – by the time we come into contact with the fly the little bugger has already spit it out.
The best way to reduce slack is by moving closer, bummer I know, I love casting as much as the next guy but it makes sense when you look at it from an efficient anglers perspective. Rather than working with 25 or 10 feet of line, try picking up 50 – sounds quite a bit more challenging working with so much extra slack don’t it? As you move closer, your chances of hooking up that trophy trout increase significantly.
Sometimes it’s not always possible to get closer and some trout will get easily spooked more than others so take your time, experiment, and see what works for your location. When a trout rises, see how close you can get rather than peeling line from your reel.
Fly Fishing Tips | Learn to Become More Patient:
Finally, we want to finish off with something that seems to be a problem in wider society as well as fishing; patience. In a world of social media and instant gratification, patience is a skill that many lack or have very little of, yet it’s probably one of the key traits required when fishing.
If you ask some of the top anglers how they catch trophy trout so often, one of the skills they’ll all mention is, you guessed it, patience. A good way to get into the habit of being patient is to just sit and watch the water after arriving. Is it telling you anything? Are mayflies emerging? Is the water sitting still? How does it feel (cold or slightly warm)? Are there lots of shaded areas?
Furthermore, positioning plays an important role as far as patience is concerned. If you spot a prime spot or see one open up, you don’t need to rush there immediately – always make sure you cover water as you move. Often, people will rig a fly and then almost run to where the ‘best’ spot is. As you can imagine, all this does is disrupt to the water and disturb the fish. These patches of overlook water can oftentimes be incredibly productive and are glossed over because they aren’t the ‘prime’ spots they were eyeing.
Fly Fishing Tips | Summary:
These three tips have made me a better angler. If you learn to internalize these three tips into your fly fishing game: letting your fly fish, better line management and learning to be more patient you’ll soon find yourself experiencing better results when chasing trout.
About the author: Jake Connor is a long-time Michigan angler who has extensive fly fishing experience throughout the state, enjoys hunting, is an outdoor humorist and writer for ineedit.club. When not casting lines along the many rivers and lakes of Michigan, he can be found hunting, camping or chasing new adventures.
*** for more still water fly fishing strategies please hit up & review our still water fly fishing category here! 🙂