As I’ve said before, last ‘season’ wasn’t exactly great for me in terms of numbers of fish caught, but in many ways it was one of the best summers I’ve ever had – from a fishing perspective. I landed the best job I could ever hope for as a teen, got out on lots of new water, and learnt so much! In the words of the GEOBASS guys, last year I ‘got my ass handed to me’ by the fish. So many blanks, I got well and truly humbled, but it made me appreciate the other aspects of a day on the water. From the wildlife to the fresh air, every day was a pleasure, fish or no fish.
Never fear though, I’m here to share what I did wrong and what I’ve learnt, so you wont do the same!
First things first, wading. One of my biggest mistakes when approaching yet another beautiful slice of west country premium Brown Trout water was going crashing into the river with my great big clumpy boots. You all know how sensitive fish are to movement, vibrations and sound, well try being a fish when six foot of wader covered and boot wearing human jumps into your home! Metal studs on the wading boots adding even more disturbance. I do love getting in the water though, it helps you connect more to nature and gets the senses going. So, the answer to this issue? Wade only when essential, resist temptation to get in the water! To stop you wading you can leave the waders at home, if appropriate. On small streams I often wear walking boots instead, but if you have to cross the river or something then you’re best staying dry and just resisting getting in the water when you find the fish!
Next up, dry flies, presentation is key to dry fly fishing, fish are not stupid! This will break down into two parts - Leaders and the use of leader sink, as I have comments on both. Starting with leaders, do you ever add extra tippet material to your tapered leaders? I may sound completely mental, but I never used to. However, as soon as I did, next drift I found myself saying ‘He ate it!’ almost instantly! So I settled on using a 9ft tapered leader with 2 or 3 ft (dependent of the amount of wind and the size of the river, as well as how picky the fish are) added, that’s for my 8ft 3wt twig by the way, alter this according to rod size. So many ignored flies, so easily avoided, all for a little extra tippet! Leader sink now, ever used it? I’ll admit I hadn’t until late this season. I saw a lot more fish rising to my fly once I started using it though! The theory behind leader sink is that when a leader is trapped in the surface film it creates a silhouette and is easily spotted by the fish. Adding leader sink from around a foot before the fly will encourage the leader to sit a few inches under the surface, consequently becoming less visible to a rising fish.
I love my entomology, and I learnt so much about insects (especially the aquatic ones) last summer. It has sparked an interest that will never leave me, and it has proven so valuable to my fishing. So this Trout season, I want you to engage more with your surroundings when fishing. Don’t get so caught up on catching the ‘big one’ because that’s not what its all about. Connect with nature, communicate with your surroundings, allow yourself to be consumed by all the things that make a great day out on the water, and learn something new as well!
There you have it, just a short one from me today, I hope sharing a few of my mistakes will help you see where you are going wrong (that’s if you are going wrong, if not then smash on as you are!) The wild trout season is already underway here in the UK, so I hope this season you have a cracker, I know I will!