I think most fly fishermen will agree seeing a trout rise to a dry fly is pure joy. It is the preferred method for most who seek trout. Yet, it is perhaps the most inefficient method for catching larger trout. I believe every fly fisherman would like to land more trophy-size fish. Of course that means fishing with other techniques.
The depth of the water and current speed will determine the type of fly line needed. If moving water is less than three feet deep a floating line will generally do the job. But in swifter current or in deeper water a sink tip line will draw many more strikes. Sink tip lines can be purchased in different sink rates. It is advisable to carry at least two—one with a medium fast sink rate and another that dives deeper faster. This allows you to match sink rate to the current and fly being fished.
Consider the bottom of a stream is comparable to a station wagon driven on a dusty dirt road with the rear window open. The air flowing over the roof tends to curl inward, carrying dust into the car. This is exactly what happens on the streambed. The current flowing over rocks and other structure creates eddies or still pocket of water just downstream.
What are the best patterns that will deceive big trout? They should imitate local foods. One of the best is a crayfish. Check your local streams to determine the color of the crayfish. Some streams will hold olive, tan or even dark green crayfish and it’s best to imitate the local color. Fortunately, the crayfish imitation doesn’t have to be too large since big trout will take one that is dressed on a size 8 or 6 hook. Of all the crayfish patterns I have used I believe Bob Clouser’s crayfish pattern to be the best. It should carry a weed guard since you will often fish it near it or on near the bottom.
Two retrieves work well. The current will sometimes sweep a crayfish from the bottom and carry it in the water column. The presentation should be drifting drag free. But most of the time crayfish prowl the bottom searching for food and this is where big trout find them. Crayfish don’t leap 10 or 12 inches, instead they move in short spurts. The best retrieve is a hand over hand retrieve with the line, moving the fly only inches while keeping it on the bottom.
All trout seem to love eating hellgrammites and fish fly larva (looks like a small hellgrammite). A wooly bugger is a great imitation and my favorite pattern is with a peacock herl body rather than one of chenille. The fly can be drifted in the water column, or fished closer to the bottom.
The woolly bugger is a wonderful big fish fly and a there is a retrieve that has worked well for me in pools where the water is no more than three feet deep. Approach the pool from the one below. Stay low and do not enter the pool to be fished. Using a floating line, cast a weighted woolly bugger to the head of the pool and allow it to sink to the bottom. Then retrieve it with hand strips as fast as you can.
That is true in many streams. Resembling an ugly brown or olive little catfish, sculpins have no swim bladder. If they stop swimming—they fall to the bottom. They are also nocturnal.
This tells fishermen how to retrieve an imitation. Fishing the fly during mid-day will draw few strikes, since the sculpin is nocturnal---you need to fish them early and late in the day or during a dark, overcast day—or when it’s raining. Since sculpins have no swim bladder they stay within inches of the bottom, as the retrieve should do. My all-time favorite pattern is Dave Whitlock’s Near-Nuff Sculpin, which rides hook up and is weighted to keep it on the bottom. It can be purchased in many fly shops—and is easy to tie.
Long casts usually produce poorly. Rarely when fishing for big trout do you need to cast more than 25 feet. It pays to have a good reel with a light drag. To catch big trout you must be equipped with the right tackle and flies and be content that you will not catch many fish but the ones you do will give you memories you’ll not soon forget.
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