Fly Fishing in the Rain: Tips, Tricks, and What to Look For

Fly Fishing in the Rain: Tips, Tricks, and What to Look For thumbnail

If you imagine a perfect day on the water, pleasant temperatures and sunshine probably come to mind. But rain, which is a common summer afternoon occurrence, leaves most anglers packing up their cars and heading for home. 

But, if you’re willing to stick it out through the bad weather, you’ll reap some major benefits. The moment the first drop falls, people will start heading for home, and that’s the first advantage to staying out. Most likely, you’ll get the water to yourself. 

Apart from that, the fishing itself is likely to improve as well. Some people love fishing in the rain, since the low light conditions and abundance of food can trigger heavy feeding in fish. Fishing during a rainstorm, though, requires different tactics than on a bluebird day. Not all rain is created equal, either, so knowing how to approach each situation is key. Tailoring both your fly choice and presentation to the conditions can make or break a rainy day on the water.

The calm before the storm

Different types of rain

General rainstorm tips

Fly suggestions for rain

 


The Calm Before the Storm

While fishing in the rain can be an opportune time, don’t discount the cool, calm time before the storm. Fishing right before it rains can be just as effective as during or after a rainstorm.

Opinions differ on what exactly causes this increase in activity before inclement weather. Two of the main guesses are barometric pressure and low light conditions. 

It’s hard to argue against the idea of low light conditions being a good thing. Low light, with or without rain, often causes an increase in fish activity. Hatches may start to come off, harsh direct light goes away, and fish may be harder for predators to spot. Fish respond well to all of these things.

As for barometric pressure, many anglers swear by it, while others think it’s more of a correlation than causation. Pressure tends to fall dramatically right before a storm, and it’s during this time of rapid change that fish are thought to feed the most aggressively.

It’s well-known that fish can sense pressure changes due to organs like the swim bladder, which are acutely tuned to pressure. The thoughts about why pressure affects fish, though, vary widely. One idea is that a drop in pressure may cause small baitfish and plankton to rise in the water column, leading to a feeding frenzy among predators. Another guess is that the predatory fish themselves will rise temporarily in the water, making them easier to target in the shallows. A third idea supposes that fish make the connection between pressure drops and bad weather, so they choose to feed before the rain mucks up the water.

Whatever the true cause of the action, it’s evident that the fishing improves before a storm, so target this time aggressively.

Two men hold a fish over the water.

Different Types of Rain

Fish respond differently to different types of precipitation, so it’s important to cater your techniques to the type of rainstorm.

Light Rain

A quick, mild drizzle likely won’t affect fishing much at all. If you don’t even think to look for your rain jacket, you probably don’t need to worry about switching your rig, either. Fish may take dries or nymphs during a light rain, although rises may be hard to spot among the raindrops!

Steady Rain

If the rain picks up into a steady shower, it’s probably time to switch tactics. Fish will likely stop rising to the surface for tiny insects, so swapping out for a nymph rig is a good idea. The other option is to use large, gaudy dries like hoppers. Rain knocks tons of insects and other food sources into the water, so fish may sit along the shore ready to gobble up terrestrials as they tumble in. You can get the best of both worlds by tying a nymph off the bottom of your hopper.

Heavy Rain

When a heavy downpour rolls in, the water starts to rise and turn muddy. This may effectively eliminate dry fly activity, as well as small nymphs. Now’s the time to throw on something large and juicy like a San Juan worm or streamer. Flies in this type of water should be visible and appetizing. Save your delicate flies for the nicer weather.

A flooded river flowing through forest.

General Rainstorm Tips

Use quicker retrievesIf you’re fishing the high-activity period right before rain, try fishing any stripped fly more aggressively than normal. During this frenzy, fish key in on fleeing prey, and you can take advantage of the chaos by giving them something to chase down.

Adapt Probably the most important thing to keep in mind when fishing in the rain is that you must be willing to make adjustments along the way. If you keep the same rig from pre-storm to post-storm, you’ll probably strike out through most of it. Changing tactics frequently to match the weather is the way to go.

Look for slow eddies near shore Especially in a medium-strength rain, try to fish the slower pockets near shore. Not only do these pockets give fish a safe haven during rising water levels, but they also collect insects that fall in from the banks.

Prepare for another bump in activity after the storm While the calm before the storm is great due to pressure and light changes, don’t forget to fish after a storm, too. If you catch it just right, you may be rewarded with massive hatches of insects as clearing weather meets with a cooling evening. Get ready to throw your dries back on as soon as the rain stops.

Fly Suggestions for Rain

The three top categories of flies during a rainstorm are terrestrials, large nymphs, and streamers. 

Any terrestrials can mimic bugs falling in from the shore, but sticking with large ones like hoppers or big ants is probably best, especially if the surface is disturbed by rainfall.

As for streamers, try visible colors like black or dark brown to make them stand out against the murky water. A black woolly bugger is perfect.

If you’re nymphing, stick with large, visible flies like a Pat’s Rubber Legs or San Juan worm. Prey items like worms and chubby stoneflies get kicked up during rough water and make for a juicy, highly visible meal.

________________________________________________________________________

This article was developed by Flylords’ content team member, Katie Burgert.

Creative Ways to Fly Fish with 2 Flies

The “what” and “why” of using a dry/dropper rig are explained a few weeks into Fly Fishing 101. You cover more water, present to more fish, and maximize your catching potential.

But there have always been many more ways to tap into 2 fly systems than a Chernobyl Ant with a Copper John underneath it.

Here are four dropper rig ideas for all types of trout fishing. These incorporate streamers, dries, nymphs, and even mice. What they all have in common is this – the flies work in tandem. Fishing the flies together can create a whole greater than the sum of each individual fly’s parts.

Check out the four rigs, as well as a few notes on knots and storage, below:

Continue reading “Creative Ways to Fly Fish with 2 Flies”

Prospecting 101

Finding treasure on the water

by Chris Hunt

South of Old Faithful, a tiny stream runs beneath the Grand Loop Road—thousands of tourists drive over the little bridge every single summer day.

A trail generally follows the stream on its gentle course to Shoshone Lake. If you walk the trail, you might occasionally see a tiny brook trout finning in a deep, dark corner of the creek. More likely, if you’re not an angler and staring keenly through polarized lenses through clear water isn’t really your thing, you might notice a fish dart for cover as your shadow crosses the stream.

This unassuming brook … this … rivulet (for “brook” is even too prominent a descriptor for this diminutive trickle) is one of the more complex fishing destinations I’ve ever visited. Yes, there are non-native brookies here. In fact, any fish in this stream is non-native—before the National Park Service introduced lake trout, brown trout and brook trout into Shoshone and Lewis lakes and their surrounding drainages, the whole drainage was likely fishless.

I make a point to visit this little run now and then. Not every year, but almost. I’ve fished it from its forested, mosquito-infested headwaters to its modest “estuary” where it must crest the black-sand beach and flow into Shoshone Lake.

For some reason, this tiny little stream captures my imagination, and it does so in that Dr. Ian Malcom “life finds a way” manner. It’s not a thriving trout ecosystem (at least not at first blush). It’s not stunningly gorgeous (but its beauty grows on you). It doesn’t flow through severe, weathered country (but if you hike it after an autumn snowstorm, you’ll see more than just boot prints on the trail).

For me, this little ribbon of flowing, tannic water simply beckons. I want to know how it works.

So I become a trout prospector.

Most fly fishers who possess a rod smaller than a 5-weight will understand what I’m trying to communicate. When you approach a fishing destination with light-weight tackle, you have, for the most part, adjusted your expectations accordingly. You’re not fishing to catch trophy trout that might one day adorn the wall of the cabin. Instead, you’re after something more visceral. Not the “what” of fishing, but more likely the “why.”

How so?

Take this little trickle in Yellowstone. Yes, it’s small. It’s unassuming. It’s likely ignored by most anglers who are, instead, heading to sexier destinations like the Snake or Lewis rivers, the Lewis River Channel or the Firehole farther north.

But it’s part of something grander, as most small waters are. It’s part of the entire drainage of two high-elevation lakes that, for better or for worse, have been manipulated by humankind for about 130 years. No, there are no roads to Shoshone Lake, and Lewis Lake only gets drive-by treatment from most. But both lakes (and the streams that feed them) are home to a complex fishy food web that starts and ends with introduced species. And this little blue line on the Yellowstone National Park map is part of that web.

As I “prospected” the stream earlier this summer, I knew I’d catch brook trout. These introduced exotics from the shoulders of Appalachia are now among the most prominent salmonids throughout the park. Over the years, though, I’ve often wondered why I wasn’t catching more brown trout in the stream—I’ve seen redds in the broader waters of the creek near its confluence with the lake, and it’s a near certainty that young-of-the-year browns use the stream as a nursery before retreating to the lake once they reach a reasonable size.

So, on this “prospecting” trip, I was hunting for browns. I knew they’d be small. I knew they’d be just about right for the wispy little 1-weight I was using. I also knew that brook trout, in streams like this one, tend to outcompete other fish, including browns.

I considered this the fly-fishing equivalent of a gold-panning endeavor where, among the hundreds of pieces of gravelly detritus, an occasional flake of shiny metal might turn up.

I wasn’t interested in a trophy. I wasn’t interested in a hero shot. I simply wanted to see if there were trout among the char, why they turn up, where they turn up … and why so infrequently. And, as if awaiting a proper introduction, two 4-inch long young-of-the year browns hit my size 16 Adams.

Gold flakes. They turn up, often when you least expect them to.

This is likely the logic behind “prospecting,” and one of the reasons that 1-weight fly rods exist in the first place. It’s about treasure, and the effort it takes to look for it. It’s about getting out of the car and wandering a blue line on the map in real life. It’s about mosquitoes that feel as if they might be able to carry you off if they had the good sense to work together to drain your body of blood. It’s about stealth and accuracy. It takes commitment.

If this isn’t your thing, don’t ditch the 5-weight. But if exploration turns your crank … if the discovery process lights your hair on fire, even just a little, then a light-weight rod or two ought to occupy a corner of your closet.

These tiny, delicate implements can be transformed into the gold pan and the screen, and every now and then, a piece of treasure might just turn up.

Chris Hunt is the national digital director for Trout Unlimited. He lives and works in Idaho Falls, and is the author of the newly released book, “Catching Yellowstone’s Wild Trout: A Fly Fishing History and Guide.”

Dry Fly Fishing – Tips and Techniques

Dry Fly Fishing – Tips and Techniques thumbnail

When new anglers embrace the intricate world of fly fishing the ultimate goal is to catch a trout on a dry fly. The iconic image of a fly angler floating down the river or wading through a stream with a rod bent over from a heavy fish that has taken your dry fly is the peak of our sport for many. Approaching dry fly fishing with a few helpful hints will enhance your fishing experience and increase your success. 

Fly selection:

The most important factor to dry fly fishing success is fly selection. Size, silhouette, and color steer the selection process when choosing a dry fly.

Size falls under the old adage of “match the hatch” anglers need to choose flies that mimic the same size of the insects that are actively emerging. Fish become very selective during the hatch and size is the most dominant factor.

Silhouette refers to the shape of the fly on the water. Mayflies are easily mimicked with a parachute dry fly. Caddis can be copied accurately with the appropriately sized elk hair caddis. Grasshoppers have a very distinctive shape that even anglers recognize from a distance. The size and shape of the predominant insect in your watershed are the factors you should strive to imitate.

Color is the last factor in dry fly selection and can often be more for the angler than the fish. Dry flies become very difficult to track in broken water for anglers and fish. Indicator or Hi-vis dry flies allow for the first two factors, size, and silhouette, to seal the deal while the bright color assists anglers in setting the hook. Color could be as simple as changing the body color of your caddis fly from tan or olive to black. Trout notice the difference.

Dry Fly Dressing:

A dry fly is an adult bug that belongs on the surface in the air. Very few situations allow for a dry fly to be fished effectively drowned. Therefore there is a necessity to dress your dry fly for optimal performance.

Aquel, Flyagra and Shimishake are just a small sample of the myriad products available for dry fly dressing. Aquel made by Loon Products is an industry leader in environmentally safe products. Aquel is applied in small amounts with your fingers before the casting begins and is reapplied riverside when needed. Flyagra is a liquid you dip your fly into. Not so environmentally safe. This product needs to be applied ahead of time for the best effectiveness. Shimishake is a dry powdery desiccant you shake your fly into. The shake is used on the water and will require reapplication regularly to maintain high floating flies.

Leaders and Tippet:

Trout have an inquisitive eye requiring long leaders and fine tippets to present a dry fly effectively. Leaders longer than 9 feet in length and thin tippets are necessary in highly pressured waters like many tailwaters. Catch and release sections allow trout to become educated requiring extra stealth to entice a dry fly bite. I recommend the Scientific Anglers Freshwater Leaders as they come in a variety of sizes and lengths. The standard dry fly leader would be a 9′ 5x one.  

Casting:

Accuracy is critical to put the fly where you need whether wading or float fishing. Misplacing your cast by inches can be the difference between a hookup and a pretty drift. As your skills improve a reach mend performed during the cast extends the effectiveness of your cast.

The Drift:

The drift, the way your dry fly floats upon the water, is critical to selling your dry fly. Careful mending both upstream and downstream is the only way to deliver your dry fly with the illusion of reality. Well-timed mending presents the fly for the longest amount of time unmolested by drag or negative water currents. 

Hatches:

Seasonal hatches are predictable for the time of year and water temperatures. However, rely on your fly shop for up to date info. Be aware of simultaneous hatches such as Pale Morning Duns emerging alongside Yellow Sallies as this is a common occurrence on Colorado rivers.

Be Observant:

Watch before you cast or enter the water. Knowing where the fish are feeding and what bug they are eating gives you the edge when you make your first cast. The observant angler understands where to place their first cast and that is often all it takes.

Best Positioning:

As part of being observant, there is always the best position for presenting your dry fly. Whether there are casting obstacles, difficult surface currents or mid river structures moving into the best position minimizes troublesome conditions. This is a task more easily achieved wade fishing by repositioning your casting angle. Positioning is crucial in netting your fish too.

Stealth:

Move slowly when wading. The slow-moving angler has more time to observe and spooks less fish. Wearing naturally toned clothing helps to hide the angler allowing for more accurate casting, less mending and better positioning. The angler bumping boots off underwater rocks and logs has already alerted fish of your presence. Be stealthy.

Dancing Game:

After the hook set, be prepared to move. Don’t stand still, now is the time to dance. Sitting square, boots planted in the river or without arm movement is a quick way to loose a fish during the fight.  Repositioning yourself for landing the fish is a regular occurrence.

Targeting trout with dry flies is the ultimate goal in fly fishing. Approaching dry fly fishing with these key points in mind will not be as intimidating to beginning fly fishers. Enhance your next fly fishing experience by booking a dry fly trip with your local fly shop. And to experience dry fly fishing in the most picturesque trout country in all of Colorado contact Vail Valley Anglers. Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies Vail Valley Anglers specializes in float and wade trips that focus on dry fly fishing. Vail Valley Anglers can be reached here.

This article is written by Michael “Sal” Salomone (www.michaelsalomone.com) a trout fly fishing guide and writer based in the mountains of Colorado at Vail Valley Anglers. Photos by the talented Nolan Dahlberg @dahlberg.digital. Follow along with them at @vailvalleyanglers for the latest in trout fishing in the west. 

Float Fishing for Beginners – 10 Tips for Fly Fishing from a Raft or Drift Boat

5 Reasons Why the Scientific Anglers Amplitude Smooth Flyline is Superior

Winter Fly Fishing Tips: Making the Most Out of Winter Fly Fishing

Dry Fly Fishing – Tips and Techniques

Dry Fly Fishing – Tips and Techniques thumbnail

When new anglers embrace the intricate world of fly fishing the ultimate goal is to catch a trout on a dry fly. The iconic image of a fly angler floating down the river or wading through a stream with a rod bent over from a heavy fish that has taken your dry fly is the peak of our sport for many. Approaching dry fly fishing with a few helpful hints will enhance your fishing experience and increase your success. 

Fly selection:

The most important factor to dry fly fishing success is fly selection. Size, silhouette, and color steer the selection process when choosing a dry fly.

Size falls under the old adage of “match the hatch” anglers need to choose flies that mimic the same size of the insects that are actively emerging. Fish become very selective during the hatch and size is the most dominant factor.

Silhouette refers to the shape of the fly on the water. Mayflies are easily mimicked with a parachute dry fly. Caddis can be copied accurately with the appropriately sized elk hair caddis. Grasshoppers have a very distinctive shape that even anglers recognize from a distance. The size and shape of the predominant insect in your watershed are the factors you should strive to imitate.

Color is the last factor in dry fly selection and can often be more for the angler than the fish. Dry flies become very difficult to track in broken water for anglers and fish. Indicator or Hi-vis dry flies allow for the first two factors, size, and silhouette, to seal the deal while the bright color assists anglers in setting the hook. Color could be as simple as changing the body color of your caddis fly from tan or olive to black. Trout notice the difference.

Dry Fly Dressing:

A dry fly is an adult bug that belongs on the surface in the air. Very few situations allow for a dry fly to be fished effectively drowned. Therefore there is a necessity to dress your dry fly for optimal performance.

Aquel, Flyagra and Shimishake are just a small sample of the myriad products available for dry fly dressing. Aquel made by Loon Products is an industry leader in environmentally safe products. Aquel is applied in small amounts with your fingers before the casting begins and is reapplied riverside when needed. Flyagra is a liquid you dip your fly into. Not so environmentally safe. This product needs to be applied ahead of time for the best effectiveness. Shimishake is a dry powdery desiccant you shake your fly into. The shake is used on the water and will require reapplication regularly to maintain high floating flies.

Leaders and Tippet:

Trout have an inquisitive eye requiring long leaders and fine tippets to present a dry fly effectively. Leaders longer than 9 feet in length and thin tippets are necessary in highly pressured waters like many tailwaters. Catch and release sections allow trout to become educated requiring extra stealth to entice a dry fly bite. I recommend the Scientific Anglers Freshwater Leaders as they come in a variety of sizes and lengths. The standard dry fly leader would be a 9′ 5x one.  

Casting:

Accuracy is critical to put the fly where you need whether wading or float fishing. Misplacing your cast by inches can be the difference between a hookup and a pretty drift. As your skills improve a reach mend performed during the cast extends the effectiveness of your cast.

The Drift:

The drift, the way your dry fly floats upon the water, is critical to selling your dry fly. Careful mending both upstream and downstream is the only way to deliver your dry fly with the illusion of reality. Well-timed mending presents the fly for the longest amount of time unmolested by drag or negative water currents. 

Hatches:

Seasonal hatches are predictable for the time of year and water temperatures. However, rely on your fly shop for up to date info. Be aware of simultaneous hatches such as Pale Morning Duns emerging alongside Yellow Sallies as this is a common occurrence on Colorado rivers.

Be Observant:

Watch before you cast or enter the water. Knowing where the fish are feeding and what bug they are eating gives you the edge when you make your first cast. The observant angler understands where to place their first cast and that is often all it takes.

Best Positioning:

As part of being observant, there is always the best position for presenting your dry fly. Whether there are casting obstacles, difficult surface currents or mid river structures moving into the best position minimizes troublesome conditions. This is a task more easily achieved wade fishing by repositioning your casting angle. Positioning is crucial in netting your fish too.

Stealth:

Move slowly when wading. The slow-moving angler has more time to observe and spooks less fish. Wearing naturally toned clothing helps to hide the angler allowing for more accurate casting, less mending and better positioning. The angler bumping boots off underwater rocks and logs has already alerted fish of your presence. Be stealthy.

Dancing Game:

After the hook set, be prepared to move. Don’t stand still, now is the time to dance. Sitting square, boots planted in the river or without arm movement is a quick way to loose a fish during the fight.  Repositioning yourself for landing the fish is a regular occurrence.

Targeting trout with dry flies is the ultimate goal in fly fishing. Approaching dry fly fishing with these key points in mind will not be as intimidating to beginning fly fishers. Enhance your next fly fishing experience by booking a dry fly trip with your local fly shop. And to experience dry fly fishing in the most picturesque trout country in all of Colorado contact Vail Valley Anglers. Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies Vail Valley Anglers specializes in float and wade trips that focus on dry fly fishing. Vail Valley Anglers can be reached here.

This article is written by Michael “Sal” Salomone (www.michaelsalomone.com) a trout fly fishing guide and writer based in the mountains of Colorado at Vail Valley Anglers. Photos by the talented Nolan Dahlberg @dahlberg.digital. Follow along with them at @vailvalleyanglers for the latest in trout fishing in the west. 

Float Fishing for Beginners – 10 Tips for Fly Fishing from a Raft or Drift Boat

5 Reasons Why the Scientific Anglers Amplitude Smooth Flyline is Superior

Winter Fly Fishing Tips: Making the Most Out of Winter Fly Fishing

The Beginners Guide to Fly Fishing

The Beginners Guide to Fly Fishing thumbnail

Fly Fishing for Beginners – A Fly Lords’ Guide

So you want to get started fly fishing? Congratulations you have come to the right place to join in on one of the coolest outdoor pastimes out there. Fly fishing is a great way to connect with the outdoors and recharge no matter your experience level. Now we know fly fishing can seem like quite the challenge to learn, but hopefully, after a read through this guide you’ll be well on your way to hooking into fish on the fly!

This guide is meant to be a very high-level view of fly fishing as a whole, and if you want to learn more about any of the subjects we mention, check out our library of how-to fly fishing articles, here.

Table of Contents

What is Fly Fishing

Basic Guide to Fly Fishing Equipment

Flies

Casting Basics

Intro to Fly Fishing Lingo

Styles of Fly Fishing

Wading Vs. Floating

What is Fly Fishing

Fly fishing is a style of fishing that traces its roots back centuries and different styles developed simultaneously around the world as human tried to figure out ways to trick fish who ate lures too small and light to catch with normal hook and line methods. At its most basic, with fly fishing, you are using the weight of the line to cast your fly out into the water. Most commonly people associate fly fishing with trout, and while that is very true, countless species can be targeted around the globe using a fly rod and reel.

Basic Guide to Fly Fishing Equipment

Fly Fishing Rod and Reel

Rod & Reel

The rod and reel are the most important parts of any fly fishing set up. With any style of fishing, there are multitudes of different rod styles and reel styles but for the purposes of this post, we will speak in more general terms. Fly rod size is designated by the term “weight”, rod weight is associated with the weight of the fly line. When you are matching a reel to your new fly rod, you want to make sure that it is designed to fit the weight line you

Fly Line Casting

Fly Line & Backing

Fly lines are all designated by weight, either on a scale of 1-12 (1 being the lightest) or one a scale based on grain-weight, utilizing the same scale as gunpowder. Most lines are typically 90 feet in length and are made up of 3 main sections: the head, the taper, and the running line. The head is the heaviest and thickest part of the line and helps to turn over your leader and flies. The taper is the in-between section that tapers from the head to the running line. The running line is the thinnest and typically, the longest part of the line, during normal casting you will typically not interact with the running line except as it shoots out of the end of your rod. The fly line is the workhorse of any fly fishing setup as it is the main reason your rod is able to propel your flies forward in the air.

Backing is the line that goes on a reel before you put your fly line on. It fills the space in the reel and allows you to fight fish if they run farther than the length of your fly line. Most reels can hold 175 yds-250 yds of backing.

Leader and Tippet Fly Fishing

Leaders & Tippet

Your leader is the section of fluorocarbon or monofilament that connects your fly line to your fly. Like fly lines, leaders are tapers from the thickest section (the butt section) to the lighter and thinner tip section. Leaders vary in length depending on what fish you’re targetting but most are between 7.5 ft-12 ft. Pre-tied leaders are sold all around the fly fishing industry and are sized using a scale of 0x-8x, 0x being the strongest and stiffest, and 8x being feather-light. Many fly anglers choose to tie their own leaders which allows anglers to customize them. Typically a short strong leader will turn over flies easily, but you sacrifice stealthiness as it will be easier for fish to see. When targetting spookier fish, you will want to use a longer lighter leader to make it the most difficult for a wary trout to see!

Tippet is the name given to stretches of either monofilament or fluorocarbon that you tie to the end of your leader to lengthen it or repair sections that were cut off while rigging. Tippet is sold on spools that are based on break-strength and on the same 0x-8x scale as leaders. We recommend keeping a solid range of tippet in your fly fishing pack so you are as prepared as possible to repair any leader that starts wearing down.

To learn how to choose between Monofilament and Fluorocarbon, check out our in-depth article, here!

Wading Gear

Wading Gear

If you are going to be fly fishing year-round, you’re going to need some durable wading gear. Wading gear typically consists of a set of breathable chest waders and wading boots. Some anglers in colder climates prefer to use neoprene waders during the winters, but for the best all-around performance, you’re going to want breathables. Most modern waders are stockingfoot, which means your feet go into neoprene booties sealed to the wader material, which requires the purchase of a wading boot. Wading boots are constructed with thick stiff soles to aid while wading in current or on longer hikes.

Accessories

As with any hobby, of course, there are countless accessories you can purchase to help you out on the water. The most basic accessories you’re going to really need is a fly pack or vest to help you haul your fly boxes out onto the creek and a landing net. These come in dozens of styles and designs so we really recommend testing a few out at your local fly shop and find which matches your fishing style and body shape best. Choosing a net to carry with you is really based on what type of fishing you’re going to be doing and how big the fish is that you plan on landing. Just make sure the basket of the net is rubber or rubber-coated which will protect the fish you are filling your net with!

Flies

Fly Fishing Flies

Dry Flies

Dry flies are probably what you may associate most with fly fishing. They are typically smaller in size and utilize various materials to float high on the surface of the water. Typically constructed of foam, hair or feathers, they rely on the surface tension to stay afloat. They are mainly designed to mimic different bugs resting on the surface of the water that make excellent snacks for fish.

Nymphs

These flies are designed to mimic exactly what their name suggests, nymphs (small macro-invertebrates) which float in the water column or cling to rocks in a river. Nymphs should reside in every fly angler’s fly box as trout tend to feed below the surface far more often than they do off the surface.

Streamers

Streamers are designed to mimic prey fish in the water. These will remind you most of conventional lures like Rapala’s that mimic baitfish in the water to get a predatory response out of a fish.

Casting Basics

Overhead Cast

 

This is the basic cast that most other fly casting styles are based upon. Its a simple overhand cast using the weight of the line and line speed to deliver your fly to its intended target.

Roll Cast

 

This is the second most used fly cast during any day on the water. It utilizes the action and flexibility of your rod to propel your line forward. This cast is perfect for any time there is no open space behind you to make an overhand cast.

Fly Fishing Lingo

Intro to Fly Fishing Lingo

As with any hobby or sport, fly fishing is replete with “lingo” and turns of phrase that really only make sense if you fly fish. Our good friends at Redington Fly Fishing have put together what might be the greatest “Fly Fishing Lingo Dictionary” we have ever read. So next time you get confused about what your guide, fly fishing buddy or fly shop employee is saying, give the dictionary a check!

Styles of Fly Fishing Boat

Styles of Fly Fishing

Having been developed by different people groups all over the world, fly fishing has developed countless different styles and strategies. The big ones you will probably hear about first are 2-Handed Casting (Spey Rod Fishing), Nymphing, Dry Fly Fishing, Saltwater and Tenkara.

Two-handed casting utilizes longer, heavier rods and lines and is used to fish large rivers where long casts are needed to properly cover the water. Traditionally this style is used for targeting Salmon and Steelhead in large rivers, but smaller and lighter rods have been developed to target trout with the same strategy.

Nymphing, Euro-Nymphing or Tight-Line Nymphing is a style of fly fishing that utilizes a long (usually 10+ feet), lightweight rod and a long leader to precisely deliver nymphs to trout. This method can be highly effective in pocket water and fast-flowing streams and rivers. If you want to learn more about nymphing for trout, check out our in-depth article, here!

Dry Fly Fishing is probably the style of fly fishing that you are most familiar with. It simply involves fishing a dry fly to fool a trout that is feeding on insects on the surface of the water. This method is most effective during the warmer months but hatches do occur during the winter.

Saltwater fly fishing is a recent development as far as fly fishing history is concerned, especially in the Americas and tropics. It is almost entirely based in streamer fishing, delivering flies designed to look like baitfish, shrimp, crabs, etc… to hungry saltwater fish! If you don’t have good access to trout streams or bass ponds, the salt holds a plethora of fly fishing adventures!

Wading and Floating Fly Fishing

Wading Vs. Floating

Fly fishing on foot and by boat, both have their pros-and-cons. Wade fishing allows you to move quieter and control the entire approach, however, you are limited by how deep you can or are willing to wade. Fishing from a boat opens up a lot of water that may be inaccessible on foot, but you then have to worry about boating logistics. One of the biggest benefits to fly fishing out of a boat is the ability to cover a large amount of water (be it in a river or lake) with ease and without the need to get in a car to move fishing spots. If you get the chance, give fly fishing from a boat a shot, and if you don’t have access to one, consider hiring a guide for a float to expand your fly fishing horizons!

Continue reading “The Beginners Guide to Fly Fishing”

6 Ways to be More Stealthy on the Water

6 Ways to be More Stealthy on the Water thumbnail

Catching fish isn’t just about knowing which fly to use. Before you even make a cast, it’s important to make sure you haven’t scared all the fish away.

Granted, this is easier said than done, and is sometimes out of your control. Trying to stay under the radar on a glassy spring creek is, by default, going to be harder than on a turbulent, tumbling mountain stream.

Regardless of where you’re fishing or what you’re targeting, there are a few good rules of thumb to follow in order to stay undetected by your quarry.

Photo: Kiyoshi Nakagawa
  1. Discreet Indicators

If you’re nymphing, one of the easiest ways to scare off every fish in sight is to use a giant, obvious indicator. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to work around this. First is to just skip the indicator altogether. While tightline nymphing isn’t suited for all rivers and runs, if you can get away with it, it’s a great way to keep fish from catching onto you. 

If you really do need some form of indicator for your style or location, there are still ways to be discreet. One of the best options is a dry-dropper setup. Not only is the dry fly less intrusive than a traditional indicator, it also gives you the chance to catch a fish on the surface. This is one of the best setups for stealthy nymphing.

Still, it might sometimes be advantageous to use a regular indicator. If the water is rough enough that keeping a dry fly on the surface is difficult, a dry-dropper will get annoying pretty quickly. In this case, choose the smallest, lightest, or least colorful indicator you can still see while fishing. Yarn ones work great, but if you really want to use the standard plastic bubble style, try to keep it small and either clear or white.

Photo: Kiyoshi Nakagawa
  1. Work upstream

This doesn’t really apply if you’re swinging wet flies or streamers, where walking downstream is beneficial but is great for standard dry fly or nymph rigs. 

Since fish tend to face upstream, both to get water over their gills and to catch morsels of food, you’re much less likely to be spotted from downstream. If you move upstream as you fish, you’ll always be downstream of the fishing you’re targeting, and the fish will see your fly before they see you.

Additionally, working upstream prevents gravel, dirt, debris, and ripples from being sent downstream right toward the fish. If you’re downstream from the run you’re fishing, anything you kick up will be sent back into the areas you’ve already hit, leaving clear and unobstructed water where you’re casting.

  1. Avoid Excessive False Casting

Casting is one of the most fun aspects of fly fishing, and it’s tempting to fancy yourself a shadow-caster after seeing A River Runs Through It. So, it’s often a bummer to find out that in reality, you should be casting as little as possible while still getting your fly to its destination.

Excessive casting causes all sorts of problems. Apart from risking a line tangle every time you bring the line forward or back, keeping your line in the air too long gives fish the opportunity to notice that something’s up.

Fish may directly spot the line, notice the line’s shadow, or see the fly occasionally tapping the water if you bring your cast too low. All these things will clue them in and may cause them to stop feeding. Additionally, every time you cast a little more line out, there’s a chance you’ll fumble the cast and end up with coils of fly line floating over your target. If you can keep most casts to just one or two strokes, you’re much more likely to keep the line under control and the fish unaware of your presence.

  1. Watch Your Shadow

While many people focus on avoiding bright colors, which isn’t a bad idea by any means, keeping track of your shadow may be more important and easier to forget.

Bright colors may scare fish, but they need to look up and see you directly to notice them. On the other hand, shadows that block the light the whole way down the water column will alert fish regardless of where they’re looking.

You probably won’t be able to manage your shadow all the time, since sometimes there’s only one good way to access a particular run. But, if you have the chance to lay low with the sun in your face, you should take advantage of casting your shadow behind you instead of right onto the fish.

Photo: Nolan Dahlberg
  1. Practice Good Mending

In an ideal world, your fly would land softly and always flow at the current’s speed. Unfortunately, this rarely happens.

Rivers have lots of small currents and seams, and a fly frequently lands across multiple different water speeds. Because of this, mending is a fact of life, especially for dry fly fishermen.

Although you may not be able to control whether mending is necessary, you can control how you mend. Practice makes perfect, and that’s probably the best way to make your mending more subtle. A sloppy mend not only leads to repetitive corrective mending, but also means your line is probably slapping the water and worse, your fly is dancing all over the place.

By practicing your on-the-water mending, or learning to get your line in a good position before it even hits the water, you can make sure fish have no idea you’re there.

  1. Be Slow and Smooth

Maybe the most common sense, but also ignored, piece of advice for stealthy fishing is to simply be more stealthy. This means walking, casting, and moving your body slowly and smoothly.

Fish are constantly on the lookout for predators, and fishermen are included in that group.

Moving quickly or sharply will be a dead giveaway that you’re there, and most of the time isn’t necessary. You may be tempted to aggressively trudge upstream toward your next run to get first dibs, but if you take your time, you’re more likely to actually find fish once you get there.

In addition to being seen while moving, if you’re walking quickly and without care, you’ll probably be making a ton of noise as well. While opinions differ on whether talking and other above-water noises scare fish, banging rocks around while you walk is sure to alert them to your presence. When in doubt, slow down. 

This article was developed by Flylords’ content team member, Katie Burgert.

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