The fishing hobby is a lifelong apprenticeship with no end. That is to say, you are always learning. It is quite interesting when you interpret different books, how you can get some interesting ideas from some and some conflicting ideas from others. That doesn’t mean that they are not both good reads, it’s just that I believe personally that there is no right or wrong way to fish.
I think when you read about fishing it pays to have an open mind and take in as much information as possible. You will eventually find a magazine or author that fits into your line of thinking – trout fishing is very much a mental game. Many articles will have standard techniques to apply to your trade and what to avoid. This is all good information but as an individual sometimes you have to analyse the moment and various techniques may have to be altered.
For example, a dry fly is generally cast in front of a trout and allowed to drift over it and as it rises to take the fly you count two seconds before striking to allow the trout to submerge and close its mouth – correct?
Generally so, but did you know there are times when the dry fly has passed over the trout who has showed no interest, only to be picked up by a trout while the fly is swinging on a fast drag at the end of its run. This isn’t natural surely – the drift is too fast and the line of drift is wrong but sometimes the trout sees the disturbance and mistakes the floating fly for a swimming emerger and I have caught many fish like this as I have on the nymph. The swinging fly can be deadly, be it dry, nymph or wet – be prepared!
When using a nymph in water for the first time, if you are unsure of the weight to be applied, go lighter first. This will give less chance of spooking the fish and if this doesn’t work after a few casts then add some weight to your nymphs.
How about tying your own flies – they are easy and a lot cheaper once you are set up. Trust me, catching a fish on your own creation is a real buzz – almost as good as the day you caught your first fish on a fly rod. Remember, a lot of the flies you see in a fishing shop are there to catch the fisherman, not necessarily the fish. Follow simple patterns like the Woolly Bugger wet flies and the Hare and Copper nymphs and you wont go far wrong.
What about “matching the hatch” or what type of lure to use? This isn’t too hard – in the summer have a good look at what is circulating around the water in big numbers. It could be the lace moth, green beetle, mayfly, cicada or all of the above. Match your artificial to these with particular reference to size.
The tackle test is another important factor to consider. Your gear should be good quality if you intend to do a lot of fishing. The right line length to suit your rod, with the reel type not being that important as its main purpose is to store line. As long as it runs freely that will be fine. Personally, I like the real loud ratchet ones that let out a sound when running that can only be linked to a trout – just as a cicada is the sound of summer.
Nylon traces should be replaced often and even half full nylon reels should be trashed after a while because nylon does deteriorate and you wouldn’t want to lose that once in a lifetime fish because you couldn’t be bothered changing your line. Check your line regularly and if a wind knot occurs then replace it. Do not put discarded nylon in the water – take it home with you and bin it there.
If you intend to catch and release your fish then there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. Trout are pretty durable creatures and have a good survival rate, but if handled incorrectly will die. Never handle a trout by the gills and when using a landing net, consideration should be given to using rubber mesh nets that are now available because these are much more friendly to a trout’s skin than string type nets. Try to avoid handling the trout but if you do so, wet your hands to avoid burning their protective slime. Sometimes a trout will need to be cradled in the water for a while before departing back into the main river flow. Be patient and allow the trout as much time as it needs, facing it up current in quieter water. Some of the brownies in particular love being cuddled and are in no particular hurry to get back into their beat. I have held these fish at times until my hands are freezing and then the trout will just calmly move away. Is it paying me back for catching it? Who knows?
So these are just a few tips and ideas to consider, I hope you find them helpful.