We recently experimented with asking our G&G Facebook fans to provide us with fly fishing topics/questions they would like us to answer and get more information on. Louis coined the concept WWKD (What Would Kent Do) and it’s been very successful thanks to all of your participation. I picked out three inquiries from the participants and have provided my answers. Let us know how you like this Q&A platform and we’ll continue to use it in the effort to provide you with the content you desire.
Lance Lynch asks:
“You drive a hundred miles to a pristine river. You are so excited to get out and fish but you snap the tip off your rod. No spare rods, a full day ahead of you. WWKD?”
This is a great question because many of us have found ourselves in this situation before. You know how I always talk about carrying extra gear? This is why folks. Stuff like this happens all the time to us. It’s very easy to snap the tip off your rod getting it in or out of your vehicle, or even drop your fly reel on the ground and bend the spool. If you’re a serious fly fisherman, you should always take the time to pack extra gear, especially if you’re going to be traveling long distances to fish. Consider purchasing a inexpensive rod-tip repair kit and keep it in your vehicle and if you have a back up fly rod, pack it as well.
To answer your question, this is what I would do if I didn’t have a rod tip repair kit or a back up fly rod with me. It’s a quick fix, just carefully snip off the broken section as close as possible to your next rod guide with a pair of nippers or pliers. Keep in mind the fly rod won’t cast as nice, and it will catch the fly line some, but you’ll still be able to cast it well enough to make satisfactory presentations and land fish.
Kim Brock asks:
“What is the most important advice that you would give to a new trout angler. WWKD?”
This is a pretty broad question but here are seven tips I stress most with my novice clients.
One, take the time to learn the fundamentals of fly casting so you can learn proper technique. Always watch your backcast when your practicing fly casting and fishing on the water. It will shorten your learning curve, help keep you out of the trees and minimize tangles on the water. You’ll also improve your skill level much quicker overtime by doing this. If you don’t fish all that often, it can be very beneficial for you to practice fly casting a couple of times for 10-15 minutes in the yard before you head out on your fishing trip. Doing so, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident in your fly casting and you’ll have worked out many of your casting flaws.
Two, when you’re trout fishing don’t be in a rush. Slow down and focus on being stealthy, because trout fishing is very similar to hunting. If you alert or spook the fish before you can make a cast, your success will greatly decrease. Always get into proper position so you can choose the appropriate type of cast and make your first cast count.
Three, don’t stick with a fly pattern if it’s not working, and if you change flies and it’s still not working, next change where you’re fishing your fly/flies in the water column. For example, if you’re fishing a dry fly on the surface, try fishing a nymph subsurface. Trout are not always willing to come to the surface to eat, especially if there isn’t a hatch or bugs available on the surface.
Four, fish tandem flies (two fly rigs) to increase your bites. You’ll not only be offering a buffet style offering to the fish and doubling your chances for hook ups, you’ll also be drifting your flies at multiple depths. Examples of this is a dry/dropper rig or a tandem nymph rig. Furthermore, when you’re fishing a two fly rig, try fishing a natural color fly in combination with a bright or flashy attractor. Often, you’ll find the fish will key in on one or the other.
Five, cover different locations and types of water until you find the fish. Don’t keep fishing a section of water if you aren’t catching fish, move on. When you move on, first pay attention to where the current and food is flowing and focus on where the structure is, where depth transitions are located and where current speeds change in the stream or river. An example of this is where shallow water meets deeper water (drop offs, shoals, buckets and channels) or where slow water meets fast water (feeding lanes, eddies, and slow seams). Most of the time trout position themselves where the most food is drifting and where they can get out of the excessive current. This way they can take in more calories than they expend.
Six, many times the only reason you’re not getting bites is because you aren’t casting your flies far enough ahead of the fish. If you think your fishing where fish are located, and you’ve made several casts with no takes, try taking a few steps closer or upstream, so your presentation will land further upstream of your target water. This will give time for the fish to see your fly and if you’re fishing subsurface, it will give you extra time to get your flies down in the strike zone where the fish are holding and feeding.
Seven, keep your confidence on the water at all times. If you don’t have it you’ll find yourself fishing like you’re lost and you usually won’t fish smart either. Fly fishing is like a math equation with a bunch of variables. Your job is to figure out and identify each of the variables so you can solve the equation and get the correct answer (catch fish). Variables can be fly size/type, fly color, rig setup, rig type (surface or subsurface) leader length and tippet size, type of water, ect. Taking the time to figure out what the fish want and where they are is the key to fishing smart and catching fish. Always be ready for conditions to change. Fish often will change the type of food they are keying in on, or the depth they are feeding throughout the day. By constantly changing up the variables in the equation (adjusting your fishing tactics) you are sure to increase your success fly fishing.
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John Gross asks:
“Rule of thumb for most people is an indicator should be set on the line at 1 1/2 times the depth of the water you’re fishing. So how exactly do you know the depth of the water without blazing through the water to find out? Most times I can’t just look and tell.”
It’s true that most times you want to set your strike indicator about 1 1/2 times the depth of the water you’re fishing. However, what you don’t hear, is that current speed should also be taken into account. Generally, the faster the water, the farther away your indicator needs to be set from your flies. On the contrary, the slower the water, the closer your strike indicator should be set to your flies. That being said, it’s not all about strike indicator placement. It’s also about the amount of split-shot and the weight of your flies your fishing, and you should try to match your rig setup with the water your fishing.
Another tip I would suggest is to pay close attention to whether or not you’re bumping or snagging the bottom during your drifts. If you’re nymphing a piece of water, not getting bites or bumping the bottom, you’re probably not getting your flies deep enough in the water column. They say the difference between a novice and advanced nymph fisherman is one split-shot, and it holds very true on the water. Constantly adjust your strike indicator and split-shot to the water you’re fishing. It can change from one spot to the next and it often is the key to consistently catching fish. On average, most novice fly fisherman set their strike indicator too shallow or close to their flies, and don’t use enough split-shot, particularly when they are fishing deeper water. If you do find you’re getting hung up quite often, then you have too much weight or have your strike indicator set too far away from your flies.
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