Re: Fishing new water...do I have the right plan?
You have a well thought out plan. You are going to do good as a fly fisher. The best fly fishers I know are always thinking about how to catch fish. Some fly fishers just hit the water and start casting.
You don't need to be worried because you can't identify the specific bugs you find in or on the water. Go by what the fly shop says is a good fly choice for the river at the time you are fishing. If you don't have a good log you might thing about starting one. Always keep a log for sure when you are successful. Keep the date, water and weather conditions, the flies you used and how you caught the fish. Over the years you will have a history of the river and what works one year at the same time of year will work year after year. If you see a bug then match it as close to the flies you have in your box. Especially color and size.
In regards of moving up or down stream. The general rule has been to fish dries up stream and wets down stream. I never paid much attention to this. I fish mostly moving down stream for everything. The important thing is to fish close first and then extend further out, and further out until you have covered the water. As you learn to read the water you will have a better idea as to where the fish will lie. The reason I don't like fishing up stream is you stand a good chance of lining any fish that are in front or above you. If you fish down stream and start in close and then further out you know all of the water you have covered. After covering all of the water move down stream about 1/2 the distance you have covered. Now you will be presenting your flies to any fish you have already presented to but at a different angle and to some new water. Do your close and then far technique and you won't be lining any fish. So you end up with a fan pattern covering the water and each fan will over lap the last fan buy 1/2. Just to be clear, when I say fishing down stream I am referring to the direction I am traveling, not just casting down stream. From each positron I make my cast up stream and drift all the way down stream that I can with a drag free drift. Remember that working down stream that the fish are facing you and you need to be careful not to spoke the fish as you move about or cast. Also remember that the fish can see quite a ways behind them.
This is a technique I use when I don''t know where the fish are located. If you are sight fishing and know the location of the fish, then cast from a position that gives you the best presentation to the fish. That could be from above or below the fish depending on the currants.
No matter what direction you fish, make sure you remember every fish you catch. What you were doing when the fish took your presentation. Where the fish were located in relation to cover. What type of cover the fish were using, if the fish were deep or shallow and the time of day. I use to fish the same Grayling river in Alaska all summer. It got a lot of fishing pressure. When the fish were feeding they moved to shallow water with some obvious currant. When they were not feeding they dropped back into the deep water of the pool. Once I learned their pattern I could pretty much catch them no matter what time of day that I fished.