Orvis Guide to Fly-Fishing – Techniques & Tactics

An angler casts two-handed in a shallow river.
An angler casts while waist-deep in the river.

What Is European-Style Nymphing?

Like every sport, fly fishing has its innovations. Right now, one of the biggest—and the most productive—is a technique called European Style Nymphing.

Rolls of tippet are stored in a PRO bags tippet whippet.

When Should I Add Tippet?

The beauty of fly fishing is that you truly never know what you may hook, so you should always be prepared to tangle with the fish of a lifetime on every cast. Being prepared in this case means having the correct size of tippet and length for the job.

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An angler lets his line drift in shallow water.

What Is Drag And Why Is It Bad?

Having a "drag free" drift is crucial in order to consistently catch trout. Unless you are swinging wet flies across and downstream or stripping streamers, you should be striving for a drag free presentation with your nymphs and dry flies. 

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A bright bass curls mid-air above the water.

How Far Above A Rising Fish Should I Cast?

Wondering how far upstream you should cast is a question that has many answers based upon the situation you find yourself in on that particular day.

A guide leads a guest down the river.

Should I Take A Guided Trip?

There are a number of benefits from taking a guided trip. With a guided trip, you will likely be exposed to new water to fish, insights into techniques, creative fly selection and be given opportunities to catch fish that you may not have had on your own. Anglers traveling to destination fisheries all over the world almost always use the help of guides to help ensure angling success.

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Two excited anglers in a raft riding over some rapids.

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Guided Trip

Most people decide to take a guided fly fishing trip in order to try and catch more fish, see a new piece of water, or utilize the guides' professional skills to tap into a tricky fishing situation. These are all good enough reasons to pay hard earned money for a day's worth of fishing time, but they miss the mark when it comes to the most important aspect of taking a guided trip; knowledge.

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Two anglers stand face to face in the river.

How Should I Tip My Guide?

Tipping a fishing guide is an accepted way to reward the hard work, collected knowledge, and teaching ability of any professional guide. Guiding operations, especially independent guides that work without the aid of large lodge operations backing them up, work long hours, have tight margins for profit, and physically work very hard to get you into fish. 

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An angler looks over their fly box while their dog looks on.

Which Dry Fly Should I Use When There’s No Hatch?

Ideally, there will be a hatch going on when you want to use dries. Then you can pick a fly to match the bugs you’re seeing. Other times, though, nothing is hatching. But a dry fly may still be a good way to catch a few fish.

A father fishes shallow water while his son, crouched in the grass, looks on.

How Do I Fish Dry Flies On Spring Creeks?

Spring creeks are special places. Because they originate underground, they can appear in unlikely spots and stay can cool and fishable in the hottest weather. The water is crystal clear, and because it seeps up from the ground, it’s full of minerals that support a vast range of aquatic life. Mayflies and caddis flies love spring creeks almost as much as the trout that feed on these bugs and thrive in these gem-like rivers. Spring creeks are also one of the toughest places to fool a fish. 

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An angler in Oregon casts from riverside.

How Do I Cast And Mend When Fishing Dry Flies?

To feed and stay safe, trout locate themselves in some of the toughest lies in the river. These lies can challenge your fly fishing skills and make these trout seem untouchable. But with a few tips and techniques, you can find success—and some nice fish on the end of your line.

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Seen from above, an angler wades in the shallows and casts into the deeper part of the river.

How Do I Nymph With An Indicator, Split Shot, And Multiple Flies?

Casting a leader that’s rigged with a bulbous indicator, several split shot, and a couple flies can be just plain arduous. If you’ve fished rigs like this, you’ve probably wondered if there are ways you could make them easier to handle. Here they are.

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An angler wades waist-deep in a shallower spot of a deep river.

How Do I Nymph A Long, Slow Pool With An Indicator?

One of the most intriguing parts of a river is its deep, dark pools. When you stop to look at one, it’s hard not to imagine those long stretches of slow moving water being stacked full of big fish, lurking on the bottom and waiting to take your fly. Pools like these are their own little worlds. Fished right, they can provide you with some of the finest angling of your life.

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Bird's eye view of a winding river in Oregon.

What Are Tailwaters, Spring Creeks, And Freestones?

For a fly fisherman, there are three main types of rivers that typically hold fishable populations of trout; the freestone stream, a spring creek, and a tailwater. Each type of water will present a very specific challenge that is typical of the habitat, and there are many clues that help define the water as to which type it should be categorized.

Charley Perkins stands on a rock to cast.

How Do You Fish Soft Hackle Flies?

In the modern age of fly fishing, the art of fishing wet flies or soft hackles has fallen by the wayside in popularity. It seems streamer fishing, indicator fishing, and dry-fly fishing takes precedence for most anglers on the water today. While these techniques are absolutely effective, you may be missing out on some hidden action if you dismiss the soft hackle fly. Soft hackles are some of the oldest flies in the history of fly fishing, and have caught trout effectively since the very beginning of fly fishing, so why not continue the tradition of success and give a wet fly a swing?

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Two anglers cast from either end of a boat on the river.

Is It Better To Swing Streamers Or Strip Them?

Once you begin spending some time streamer fishing, it's easy to see that the way you retrieve your streamer plays a huge part in how successful your day of fishing will or won't be. Water conditions, available food in the water, and the preference of the local fish all play a huge part in which streamer retrieve will mean more fish in the net. Across the board, one technique of retrieval may not necessarily be better than the other day in and day out. Instead, it's best to have a handle on the variety of techniques at your disposal and see which one works best on that particular day.

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A striped bass.

What Are Crayfish And Why Do Bass Like Them?

Crayfish are quite prolific when the environmental conditions allow, and they represent a huge food source for all types of freshwater fish. Typically encased in their hard shell, crayfish periodically shed their outer skin in order to grow larger. Crayfish patterns are always a good option to fish, but especially important during the time of the year when they are molting.

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Anglers take a break and to have some lunch.

What Does It Mean To “Rest the Fish?”

Resting the fish is a tactic that lets the fish go back to their normal habits after being spooked or becoming aware of an anglers presence. Resting the fish also benefits the angler in that they are able to slow down and become calm after either a botched hookset or too many frantic movements.