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Old 12-14-2011, 01:14 AM
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Default Tactics

Let me paint a scenario, one that I experience several times a year:

You plan a fishing day to a familiar place. You feel confident as you know what to take, mainly, you know what flies work there. In fact, you are so confident, you don't even check the fishing reports.

You leave the house get to your spot and everything is as expected. You tie on the most effective fly and cast. Nothing; next cast, nothing. You tie your next best fly for that stream and nothing again.

I think that the biggest difference between the experience and unexperienced fisher is what is done and WHEN to rectify this scenario.

I am interested in the temporal aspect of things. Specifically, what do you try (fly vs presentation vs spot), but also how long do you stick with things until you decide to switch tactics.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:59 AM
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Default Re: Tactics

For me this is a little more complicated than a short answer will cover. It depends on what I'm fishing for, when and the general size of the fish I'm targeting. If there are a lot of fish and they are the typical smaller fish and I'm not getting them, I switch flies cover an area well, then move. Repeat. If it's one of the times where I know it's big fish and you don't get a bunch anyway, I will stand in a spot and work the heck out of it with one fly. I might not move or change flies for an hour of no bites. Maybe even more. The advantage I have is knowing which to do when, because I fish a whole lot and I live right next to the river. It's one of those things where you need to fish an area for a lot of years and put a lot of days per year in. You can take this to a new area sort of, but the results may vary. Big fish patterns stay fairly consistant. For example, big Pike will move out of the deep water in the fall and feed really shallow. Big Pike will move up on the tops of rock reefs in mid summer. Big Pike spawn in the spring and will run up rivers, then creeks, ditches and smaller, looking for the shallowest weedy water they can find as soon as the ice goes off the river. These things always stay the same and you can take that knowledge away from your home waters.

There is no real easy answer to this. It's always a judgement call now matter how you slice it. I'd say that as a just generalization, if it's an area with a lot of smaller fish, keep moving and switching flies and presentations till you get them figured out. Have enough patience to let a good one work. If it's a big but few fish thing, don't move as often and stick with the best guess fly till you can't take it anymore and have to change. By the way I never check fishing reports. Up here thay are "Get the tourist up lies" where they never heard of a bad day fishing. I think a far more important thing is weather. It can be good, it can be bad as long as it is the same for three days. Then the fishing will likely be good. It doesn't mean that it won't be good if the weather isn't steady for three days either. There is always the exception that makes you scratch your head. Then there are fish patterns that will make you scratch your head too. The Walleye in the river did it to me this year. They did not do a single typical thing. By the time I got the fall Walleye run figured out fairly well this Fall I had designed a half a dozen new fly patterns and a whole new way to fly fish for them. It was also pretty close to freezing over. Everything I had learned from previous Falls was pretty much worthless. Now that I have it figured out, they probably won't do that anymore. There is no substitute for time on the water.

I'm not sure that helped any.
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Old 12-14-2011, 09:27 AM
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Default Re: Tactics

My trial and error method self taught over the last few years. Maybe not the best, but it works for me, and has caught me fish all over Colorado without having much 'insider info'. Given using known good flies:
If I am getting skunked after a while I either need to keep moving, move with more stealth, or only move upstream (working downstream can be bad or good, but mostly it just spooks the fish). If the casting, approach, and stealth isn't working, I will start flipping over rocks looking for the biggest nymphs to match.
I got schooled at a local tailwater recently, one that I was very confident arriving at; the original post made me think of that day... managed a few small ones on San Juans, but could not find the nicer fish.

If I am not super confident, or at a new river, I will check the reports with a grain of salt... I will start by flipping rocks once I get there to find some good nymphs to match. Then I use setups that cover from the surface to the bottom to find where they are feeding. Sometimes it is like 2 hours of figuring out what the trout want with only a few nibbles: fly size, fly color, depth, speed of water, presentation (rising bugs, tumbling along the bottom, or dead drift?). Then after finding the right setup it can be a fish every ten minutes! If you are getting skunked, and some guy says he just caught 15... bribe that dude into some advice!

A personal belief: most store bought flies are too flashy. Even a hares ear will have something bright and flashy. I think big smart fish know better. Try some drab natural patterns if you are getting snubbed. Use your clippers in the field to modify your flies.

As dan said, fishing for big fish, you might have to hunker down for a while until the fish become used to you standing there as part of the 'background', so cool to see the fish start drifting out of hiding after being super quiet in the same spot for a while... imagine standing like a stork, quiet but ready.
I have learned that I prefer 2 big fish all day over 30 small fish. It gets frustrating, but so does catching another 6" fingerling.
PS thanks dan for the Pike tips! I am a pike virgin, hoping to find some next spring and summer to break in my 10wt. Also hoping to find some muskie.
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