Tips & Tricks

Fall Fishing on the Fly

Fall can be a great time of year to fish a fly.  The Brown Trout will start spawning near the end of September in many cases and will be in full force during October.  At the higher elevations, the Cutts will be actively feeding in preparation for the long winter ahead, if you can locate them.  Cutthroat can be a challenging species to target, but that’s what makes it so much fun!  Get out there before Old Man Winter blankets the ground with a layer of snow.  With the low flows at this time of year, stealth is often the name of the game.  Light tippet and small bugs can be helpful.  A great presentation along with a drag free drift is critical.  Fall can also be a great time of year to throw some dry flies.  Fall can also be a great time of year to get out those streamers as well, you don’t need light tippet with streamers!  Some guys will go moussing during a Full Moon as well.  Night fishing can be tough, but it can also be very rewarding.  When fishing the spawn try to be aware of the Redds and the actively spawning fish.  The spawning fish should be left alone, but you can target the deeper pools and swifter deeper runs for feeding fish.  Many bodies of water are stocked and do not rely on natural reproduction, but on the other hand, many are not stocked too much, and those are the fisheries were that we need to take extra care.  Try to release the fish as quickly as possible and try to keep them in the water as much as possible.  The less we handle the fish, the bette...

Big fish, Little mind

As we near the end of the year and the seasons change, the avid fly fisher knows that right now can be some of the best fishing of the calendar year. Some may credit this to the temperature changes, some to the aggressive browns looking to put on some weight pre/post spawn, but really we all know it’s STREAMER TIME! Streamers are becoming more and more popular and if you’re neglecting this tactic of chasing big fish then you’re missing out! It’s a great way to find and chase the bigger population of a river system and many would agree it’s the most exciting. Now, were all in chase of that big once in a lifetime fish, but before doing so do you ever think about the small fish and where they might be? This is where my theory “Big Fish, Little Mind” stems from. Before we can try and catch the big predatorial fish we’ve got to think like a small fish.                 Thinking like the small ones can be a bit difficult but here are some places to start on your next outing. Before you even get your feet wet, fish the first 10ft of water out from the bank back to the shore. In most cases that’s the softest water and most of the juvenile fish will be feeding on small bugs. During a hatch some small fish make themselves vulnerable to bigger fish by concentrating on eating and not the two foot brown below him just waiting for an easy opportunity. Another great place to locate big fish while thinking like a small one is near current change and slack water. This may be behind structur...

River Safety 101

Many fly anglers wear chest waders with a bootie rather than a boot-foot.  Additional wading boots need to be purchased for waders with booties.  An advantage is the boots can be replaced or used with other waders when needed, among other advantages, like being lighter than boot-foot.  Felt soles are illegal in some states but can be very effective for walking on river bottoms.  Just make sure to dry the boots out before returning to the water again, as you could spread invasive species to new waters if you do not.  This should still be a caution taken when wearing any soles.  Spikes and rubber soles can help too.  If you are new to wading, start with the slower and shallower water and work yourself up to being comfortable with deeper and faster water.  Slowly “dip your toes” into the faster and deeper water.  Your wading belt is part of your waders for a reason.  If you take a “dive” in your waders, the belt slows the waters ability to get down past your waist and onto your legs.  If your belt is too loose, water could fill your waders and make it very hard to self-rescue in the case of an emergency.  A wading staff can be a very good option also.  A wading staff allows for three points of contact while walking in the water.  This means better support and stability as a wading angler.  The wading staff can be a great tool when wading becomes more difficult.  You must always use your own judgment.  It’s better to be safe than sorry!  Seeking a trout is not worth risking yo...

Dry Fly Selection and Rigging

For the novice angler identifying specific bugs can be a challenge. The more you know and understand each bug and its lifecycle, the better you will understand fly-fishing and the more you will begin to hook- up. For the novice, a great rule of thumb is simply to match the size and color of your fly as close as you can to what you see in the water and fish feeding on. Notice the vegetation around you, as the bugs will use streamside vegetation to rest before finishing their life-cycle and laying eggs. Pick up rocks near the bank but submerged in the water and see what is underneath them. Many times you will see nymphs and other forms of insects. This will give you an idea of what is in the water and thus what size and color fly to choose. You don’t always have to “match the hatch” and it isn’t always as critical as some fly anglers would like to think. Especially in the summer months, there is a lot of food in the water. Just because a caddis hatch is happening, doesn’t mean the fish won’t eat other bugs. Unconventional methods have been known to catch a fish too! Thinking outside the box can bring fish to the net in some cases. Throwing a streamer in the middle of a caddis hatch could potentially fool the biggest fish in the river. A good selection of dry flies in various shapes and sizes can be all you need. Even if you have no knowledge of the insects in a river, you can get fish to the net if you’re aware enough. A river seine can help you identify the bugs in a river...

The Holy Grail of Fly Fishing

By June some higher alpine lakes should be icing off.  For those who have had the chance to fish at these divine places, it is the Holy Grail of fly fishing and will be cherished until our last breath.  For many, it’s more than just about the fishing.  There is something innately human within the act of catching fish at such breath-taking places.  Many an angler awaits the entire year for this small window of opportunity.  We tie flies all winter in anticipation for the high country to open up and become fishable.  It is our escape and it is our solitude.  We have utter respect for the fish we catch and the environment around us.  For us, this is where we come for our Souls to be nourished.  Where we come to leave behind technology and society, at least for a little while.    Dry fly fishing at high remote lakes is really the name of the game.  There is nothing like watching a native cutthroat come from the abyss to annihilate your fly.  The water so clear you literally get to watch his mouth open and inhale the fly. Watching them inhale it and waiting just long enough that you get a hook-set, is one of the most challenging parts of all of fly fishing.  Once you set the hook, the water is so clear that most of the fight will be seen by you!  These high altitude fish must be handled with care and reviving them before releasing the fish is critical.  Keep these fish wet and return them to the water immediately.  Not all of the alpine lakes get re-stocked and they survive by...

Spring Ice-Off

Spring is a very exciting time for fly-fishers.  When the ice comes off of the lakes in the spring trout and other species are very hungry.  Trout eat an abundance of insects in the summer.  During the winter months, the trout have a harder time finding food simply because there just aren’t as many food sources available in the winter.  As the ice comes off the lakes, insects begin to hatch as well.  This is a great combination for fly-fishers to take advantage of.  For many, this is their favorite time of year.  In many areas in the West, the Chironomidae hatch is usually the first significant hatch of the year.  That said, the fish will gorge on these as the ice is coming off.  Anglers will have great success on various Chironomidae patterns in the early spring, but these patterns will also work off and on throughout the summer months.  From June to September, you will see Callibaetis.  Damsel-flies can be great too.  Fishing a “hatch” can be a very exciting thing to witness and it won’t be something you forget any time soon, that’s for sure!  Scuds are also a staple of many trout in Stillwater.  Where these are found, they will be available to the fish as a food source all year long.  Many lakes will also have crayfish and various baitfish as well.  The more you know about the specific body of water you are fishing, the more successful the fisherman you will become.  Nymphing can be effective in the spring.  An indicator rig with a 9 foot or longer leader.  A two-fly ri...

Fishing the Spawn, Tips and Tactics

Spring and Fall are the seasons that many anglers get so excited for.  There are several things you can do as a fly-fisher to increase your chances of hooking up during these exciting months.  One thing to keep in mind, is the fish.  During these months, the fish are carrying on what has been going on for millions of years, reproduction.  Redds are where the fish actively spawn.   These are small gravel beds found in slower water and about ankle deep.  You can watch the fish do their spawning rituals.  The trout will often appear to “dance” as they are mating on these beds.  Trout will chase each other and it is just a fun sight to see but remember the fish on these redds, spawning beds, are actively trying to reproduce.  The redds should be avoided.  Many times the actively spawning fish aren’t hungry anyways.  During the spawning months, try to target deeper pools or heads of runs, where fish move to actually feed.  Focus your attention more on active feeders that are not actively spawning.  This allows you to go home with a clear head and also go home knowing you did not affect the spawning habits of these trout in any negative way.  This is a very fun time of year because the fish will school up in large pods.  During the spawn, other species than just the spawning ones will eat eggs, even follow spawning fish upriver as a source of food via their eggs.  Not only do fly anglers get excited about the spawn but also other species of fish!  For beginners, this time of yea...

Understanding How To Read the Water- Part II

“I am not against golf, since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout.”- Paul O’Neil   Last month we discussed the different lies that trout will seek and what these lies are composed of.  This is just one step in learning how to read the water.  This month we will discuss the different types of water on any given river.  Understanding these different types of water will help you discover where the fish are holding and this will tie together with last month’s learning of the different lies.  Understanding how all rivers are the same in some ways will help you discover those subtle cues in your own river that makes your river unique.  These subtle differences in fisheries can make you an even more effective fly angler.  The ability to listen to the river is a tool you can use on any river.  The better you get at fishing your local river will only help you be a productive fisher on other lakes and streams.  Experience and time on the water are also keys to developing your skills.  At times, you might even wonder if you are starting to think like a fish!  I cannot stress awareness enough.  The more aware you are of the constantly changing conditions, the more you can cash-in when conditions start to change.  Fishing before a rain or snowstorm can be an effective way of hooking up.    Riffles- These areas are generally shallow and usually will be found running over rocks and small boulders.  The riffles will provide oxygenated water that wil...

Reading the water Pt. 1

                                                     Learning How-To Read the Water                  “A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.”- Arnold Gingrich       There are many elements to understanding the water and how it relates to catching fish.  Once again, the more you become aware of the changing conditions, the better fly angler you will become.  A good set of all-around polarized sunglasses can greatly help you spot fish by allowing you to see through the glare that is often on top of the water.  Grey, Copper, and Rose colored lenses are generally considered all around lenses.  For those low light days, a more yellow lens can be beneficial, but you don’t need to run out and buy multiple pairs of sunglasses.  The Grey, Copper, or Rose will work fine to start.  Suncloud brand sunglasses are affordable and the optics are pretty good for the money.     Scanning the water for feeding fish and “fishy” water before entering the water is always a good idea.  It is best to have the sun at your back but that is not always realistic when fishing.  Watch for fish eating adults off the surface and watch for fish tailing.  Any sign of a fish is a good sign and if you can identify what they are eating, that’s just a bonus!  Pay attention to your shadow in relation to the water.  You don’t want your shadow spooking the fish.  Another good idea is to fish next to the bank to start.  DO NOT enter the water until you’ve fished near the bank.  Many fish wil...

Winter Presentation

Presenting a drag-free but stealthy drift is essential to winter fly-fishing.  Typically, winter trout fishing is the most technical that you will experience all year around.  Staying aware of changing conditions is really a key to unlocking winter fishing secrets.  Awareness of the insects around you, flows, and changing weather conditions can all be factors that directly correlate to your success or failure on any given day.  Overturning a rock to find out what insects are hiding or using a mini-seine to inspect what bugs are hatching on a given day are a few simple things that can help you become a confident fly fisher.  As you develop a relationship with any river you become a better angler.  Learning new things and applying them in new ways is another key to unlocking the mystery of fly fishing.  As you make those mental notes when you notice a certain intricacy of any river try to catalog it, so you can apply it in new ways to another river.  In this way the river has the ability to speak to you in profound ways.  When you hook-up with a trout simply because you were aware of your surroundings, it very much feels like breaking the code to some elaborate lock that enables you to have a higher understanding of things.  This may be what keeps anglers coming back to this sport again and again, and trout is just one species!!  Trout fishing can be applied to saltwater flats fishing for example.  The sky really is the limit with this sport and that is what makes it so exci...

Winter Fly Selection and Rig Set-up

The TrueFly Supply Guides cover winter fly fishing tactics, including where the fish hold during the winter, fly selection, and tips and tricks on rigging you winter nymphing rod.

Fly Selection! Who, What, When, Why, Where!

Why? Great question, right? The question of "why" can be applied to SO many aspects of fly selection.  There are tons of different fly patterns out there, and why you select the flies you do can be narrowed using a few easy tips. Tip #1 Pick Flies for how you plan to fish.  Are you heading out to cast dry flies, maybe you want to work on getting the best drift possible with your "Euro" nymphing set up, or are you just simple going out to catch fish? Now that you know what type of fishing you plan to do, why are you going to pick a certain fly? Tip #2 Look for hatches, look for feeding patterns.  Again, we are pounding home the need to take some time and observe what's happening Tip #3 Run a river seine.  This kinda ties into Tip #2, but running a river seine is such a useful tool, and one that should be in every anglers arsenal.  Not only is this an extremely simple tool to use and make yourself, it's a much more ethical way to see what a fish is eating when you compare to other options, like a stomach pump...which I personally hate.   Using these simple tips in combination with our other Fly Selection blogs, you should have a good idea of the who, what, when, and why of fly selection.  Stay tuned as we wrap up our Fly Selection segment and bring it all together.