Tips & Tricks

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.  

Fly Selection! My Struggle and Solution!

Sixteen years ago I picked up my first trout fly rod and tried to cast it.  I was terrible!  However, I was recently engaged and my future wife's Grandpa was an amazing fisherman and we happened to get along fantastically.  He was more than happy to give me some tips.  He was 74 years old and had almost 7 decades of experience to share with me.  I also met a friend at work who was willing to take me out and teach me a few things as well.  I was lucky to have such experienced people I felt comfortable talking to and who were extremely happy to teach me.  However, I knew nothing about flies, their names, what they were supposed to represent or the life cycle of aquatic insects (which turns out can be useful in fly fishing).  They answered my questions and gave me a lot of information.  Here's a story that beginners and even expert fisherman can probably relate to or has even had happen at some point: I was a new fisherman and had a fly rod and even though I was incredibly lucky to have great people share so much knowledge with me I was still very intimidated at the fly counter.  I would see a few patterns I had heard in my conversations with my Grandpa and friend but many were acronyms which made no sense to me.  The guys in the fly shop were sometimes helpful and rarely I would find someone who had patience for my questions. But many times these guys made me feel like an idiot and sometimes the suggestions they were giving me felt more like they were getting rid of inventor...

Fish Don't Hibernate During Winter Why Should Your Fly Rod?

Don't put the fly rod up for winter!  Fish activity does dwindle a lot during winter but they of course do not Hibernate.  Those cold streams with snow on the banks and yes occasional ice and slush floating on top do make it look impossible to net a fish from.  However, winter fishing can be quite productive if you understand how fish activity changes, know where to look, and of course have the right flies.  You may even find a hatch in the right conditions! Fish activity changes a lot during winter.  Their food supply has decreased, they are worried about predators and shelter more than feeding in the winter, and they won't expend a lot of energy.  Explosive takes will be fewer than during the warmer months.  Fish won't be everywhere like they were when it was warmer.  They will congregate in pools with a slow moving current and deeper water.  They will be deep and they won't be in stagnant water because they need a current to bring their food supply to them.  They want to conserve as much energy as possible and look for areas with low turbulent.  They won't chase food like would in August and wait for food to come to them.  Steamer fishing will take more skill than in summer. Flies are smaller in the winter, don't be afraid of midges in the 22 to 24 range.  Big fish will eat tiny flies!  TrueFly Supply's Guides do a fantastic job putting together our winter selections.  Watch for hatches on the warmer afternoons and look for rising fish in the middle of those slower curr...