I laughed when he asked. "Seriously man. Should I be nymphing?" There was a frustrated chuckle in his voice. I think he knew the answer, but it is a fair question.
There comes a time when it feels like you've tried everything. We had fished fast and slow water. Skinny runs and deep pools. Off the banks and in the middle. Dries and wet flies, both big and small. Nymphs, emergers, dry droppers, hopper droppers, two flies, one fly, weighted flies, with and without split shot. Swinging, stripping, tightlining, dead drifting. Up and down, left to right, and all over that water, you name it, we’d fished it!
We drove along the Provo River looking for a good spot to stop and fish. From the passenger seat I caught glimpses of the water over the guard rail between the curves in the highway.
Tactics and Techniques
When I first started fishing to the middle of the water column, it was typically to trout eating just below the surface. The hopper dropper (or dry dropper) was my primary tactic. But the more I fished, the more I saw opportunities to fish the middle of the water column that were not best suited for the dry dropper technique.
Getting your flies down is a requirement if you want to catch trout while nymphing. It’s just the way it is. I cringe when I think of all the hours I’ve spent with flies in the water and very little chance of catching trout because I didn't understand this concept. This article is an attempt to spare you some of those wasted hours, and perhaps introduce some new techniques.
Spotting fish is easy, until it’s not. We all know what a fish looks like and when it’s obvious, sight fishing moves along nicely. But mother nature has a tendency to make things tough. There’s a reason these trout are so beautiful. They blend in with their surroundings, and we all know “trout don’t live in ugly places.” Rocks and stones along river bottoms combined with debris, vegetation, or branches do a good job of fooling us and helping trout. There are lots of things we can do to help us spot fish and tell the difference but only a few ways to know for sure. How can we be certain what we are looking at is not a rock? There are only two guarantees. Catch it or spook it. Even though catching fish is the goal, both will improve your sight fishing game over time. Here’s how…
We oversimplify the pursuit of trout when we think changing flies will result in more fish caught. Surely fly fishing can be a simple endeavor if we let it be. Carry a fly rod and some flies to the river. Wade through its currents and cast flies to where the trout swim below. Wade and cast. Wade and cast. If the fish do not reward you, the overutilized solution is often to change flies and continue on.
Getting to know the river is important for finding your own spots that you know will produce fish. Even if it is a short stop at the stream, every little bit of time on the water counts. If you are fortunate enough to live close to a trout stream, but short on time, stopping to wet a line even for fifteen to thirty minutes can add up and help build experience.