Sunday Classic / 10 Tips For Targeting Rising Trout With Terrestrials

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A fly anglers favorite sight during the summer terrestrial season. Photo By: Louis Cahill

One of my favorite times of the year to fly fish for trout is when I’m able to target rising fish with terrestrials.

It’s always a breath of fresh air when I’m able to leave the nymph box at the truck in exchange for my terrestrial box, that’s overflowing with stacked foam and rubber legged imitations. I love nothing more than seeing trout come up and devour these patterns on the surface. Terrestrial fishing can be some of the easiest trout fishing of the year, but occasionally it can get technical, especially late season, when the fish have grown accustom to spotting out our terrestrial imitations.

Below are ten tips that should help you bring more fish to the net when targeting rising trout with terrestrials.

Tip 1: Get on the water early. Beetle Patterns work really well at first light, when hoppers can still be inactive, and the low light will help you stay concealed.

Tip 2: Don’t immediately cast to a trout you just saw rise. Waiting 10-15 seconds before presenting your fly will allow the feeding fish to get back into its feeding station, and begin looking for its next meal.

Tip 3:  Make sure you present your fly far enough upstream of a rising fish. Trout often drift back with the current to take food on the surface.

Tip 4: Take your time, waiting 45 seconds or longer in-between presentations to a rising fish. Don’t continuously cast over and over to a rising fish. This will often spook or put the fish down.

Tip 5: Don’t stick with the same pattern if you’re getting refusals or the fish are ignoring your fly. Change out the size or type of your terrestrial pattern.

Tip 6: For Flat slow moving water, or fishing locations that have smart educated fish, lengthen your leader to 10-12 feet.

Tip7: Don’t give up on your drift too early, keep your fly in the target water and you may end up convincing that big trout your fly is the real deal. Sometimes trout will follow your terrestrial downstream several feet before deciding to eat it, so before you pick up your fly to make another cast, make sure there’s not a big trout following. Backwater eddies are also perfect places for letting your fly float for long periods. I once caught a 20 inch cutthroat trout in a swirling eddy after two minutes of high sticking my hopper pattern.

Tip 8: Try slapping your terrestrials down on the water above a riser if a subtle presentation doesn’t get the job done. This often triggers trout to feed during the terrestrial season, because it simulates terrestrials falling off trees and the banks.

Tip 9: If you have a fish turn off of your fly at the last second, try twitching your fly, and sometimes the fish will turn a 180 and eat your fly.

Tip 10: If all these tips fail to get a rising fish to eat, try tying on a short dropper and sinking a tiny ant or beetle off the back of your dry. Sometimes trout will take drown terrestrials with total abandonment. If that doesn’t work, move on to another spot and come back later when the trout have calmed down and aren’t aware of your presence.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / 10 Tips For Targeting Rising Trout With Terrestrials

  1. This is the first year I’ve tried using terrestrials on the NF of the Cd’A, and it proved very successful. Primarily using beetles. Thanks for the eight tips, will make next year’s efforts even more effective.

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