The Best Way to Improve Your Trout Game

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Don’t be afraid of technical trout water, it’s the best way to improve your trout game. Photo: Louis Cahill

The single best way to improve your trout game is to fly fish on trout water that challenges you.

I’m talking about super technical water where trout are wary and extremely educated.  The places where the smartest of trout live, where all you get is one or two shots to hit your target. These trout streams force you to maintain the highest level of discipline in your fly fishing. You have to think out every step of your approach and presentation to find success. If you fail at executing these strict requirements, you’ll almost certainly be skunked on the water.

It’s really easy for many of us with our busy schedules to focus our time fly fishing locations that allow us the most success, or should I say the easiest success. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy these easy trout streams myself, where I can immediately start catching fish within minutes of wetting my line. Just remember, if all you do is fish easy trout water, you’re going to have a rude awakening when you finally get around to stepping foot on a truly technical trout stream. You won’t find success, your confidence will shrivel, your pride will take a beating and you’ll probably feel like crawling off into a hole when it all said and done. Not only that, but you’ll also be impeding the improvement of your fly fishing skills in the process, and you’ll be no different than a kid refusing to take off the training wheels on his/her bike because it’s easier and safer.

So change up your routine, step away from your comfort zone and the rookie trout water for a while. Next time you go fly fishing, choose trout water that requires you to bring your absolute best to catch fish. Be prepared for there to be a learning curve, and some very slow days. But continue to press on and persevere, because when your fly fishing mojo acclimates to the challenging conditions, and you finally find success, the reward will trump all those banner days you previously witnessed on those rookie trout waters. Most importantly though, when you look back at your journey, you’ll find that your trout game will have shot through the roof.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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16 thoughts on “The Best Way to Improve Your Trout Game

  1. So true. Mama always told me that you’ll never climb to the top of the tree if you always pick the low hanging fruit.

  2. This applies to saltwater too. Some marsh flats around here get heavy pressure, the fish become educated and difficult to catch. Some people abandon those flats as to difficult. I find them rewarding, a fish fooled on these flats is an accomplishment, and they make me a better angler.

  3. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve seen, Kent. I have seen it myself. Recently had a trip where I fished the Davidson and the Nantahala DH. Caught ridiculous amount of fish on the DH. Nantahala was fun, but for the first time I finally got to where I could catch fish on the Davidsone fairly consistently. Didn’t catch near as many on the Davidson but the satisfaction from those was way more than all those on the Nantahala.

  4. I agree. Around here many guys fish Spring Creek a beautiful little limestone stream with much pressure but there are so many fish it is what I call a feel good stream. The narrows of Fishing Creek is a different story and does get the pressure but not so many fish and there is a trophy section, but a great place to ply your skills. A good day is catching half a dozen 14 in browns. On Spring Creek a good day is 12 or more 8 to 12 inches. Thanks for the post.

  5. Nice post! I see way to many fisherman come up to my neck of the woods because they have read story after story about the fabled blue ribbon streams and Rivers of Yellowstone country, only to find that it takes more work than what they had prepared for.I cannot emphasize what you wrote about presentation, Its everything on the water you write about. lets not forget about upping your game at the vice as another tool to help you catch fish on Phd waters. Take the Railroad Ranch on the Henry’s Fork. In mid to late summer I don’t care who you are, you couldn’t buy a fish! we get so many “tourist” fly fisherman who flog the water and make sloppy presentation the norm that basically fish are just given a good look at every stinkin’ pattern out there presented in such a way that they fully understand the difference between a fly and food. I’ve actually had BIG trout rise for inspection once, twice, even three times before they ignored my fly. Frustrating? YES! Discouraging? EH, being a tier it usually drives me to the vice, to tweak and twist a proven pattern. Its a tough game out there, especially on pressured water. Sorry for the rant great post!

  6. Pingback: 6 Easy Tips to Help Fly Anglers Catch Educated Trout | Fly Fishing | Gink and Gasoline | How to Fly Fish | Trout Fishing | Fly Tying | Fly Fishing Blog

  7. Any tips for those of us who, even in easy trout water, have problems at “immediately start catching fish within minutes of wetting (our) line? I continually get skunked, and it’s getting frustrating. I mean, forget the “super technical water”; I’d be overjoyed to catch fish in the not-so technical water!!!

    • Les, my best advice is stay at it. I think it took me a year to catch my first trout. No kidding. Time on the water is the secret sauce. I’ll add this, having no idea how you fish. Generally, when someone has the problem you describe, it’s line management that’s to blame. Something is screwing up the drift 9 times out of 10. Good luck!

      • Thanks, Louis. I really appreciate your reply and tips. With working a 40-hour a week job and pastoring a church, “time on the water” is definitely the problem. Looking forward to remedy that issue when I retire in 4 years!

  8. I totally agree. Starting out I was fly fishing in Colorado. Mostly the South Platte. It made it doubly hard hooking up but I really believe I learned a lot and built a bit of a foundation that has kept me disciplined through the years. Thanks for another great article.

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