Orvis Fly Fishing
How Do I Match A Hatch And Catch Fish?
Few moments in fly fishing are more exciting than arriving at your favorite spot and seeing the water dimpled with rising fish. Whether it’s brown trout sipping mayflies or rainbows smashing salmonflies, it’s a moment we all dream of experiencing.
Unfortunately, moments like these can also be frustrating lessons in humility. Fishing a dry-fly hatch can be hard work requiring the patience to find the right fly and right drift. But once you crack this code, you can catch fish after fish and create some of the finest memories you’ll ever have from fly-fishing for trout.
Here are ways to increase your odds of turning the next hatch you see into a fishing trip you’ll always remember:
Eyes on the rise
Fish take different types of hatching insects in different ways. When trout are focused on emergers, their rises are swirls. When they’re taking caddises or mayfly duns, their rises are more like dimples. When trout are feeding on spinners (egg laying or dying mayflies), their rises are gentle and almost lazy. And when trout key in on fast-moving bugs like stoneflies (or terrestrials), their rises are fast and splashy.
As a you can imagine, telling these different rises apart can be tough—at first, anyway. To help you out, here are some tips on how to spot and fish them.
Don’t be a drag
To successfully fish dry flies, you need to master the drag-free drift. Drag is the pull your tippet/leader/line puts on a fly, and when you’re fishing dries—especially to wary trout—it can put an end to your chances of catching fish.
To eliminate drag, try various types of “mends”, which are ways to manipulate your fly line and leader to they don’t pull on, or drag, your fly. Another technique to try is changing your position on the stream. A few steps upstream can make all the difference.
Try and try again
Say you’ve done all of the above like a champ and you’re still getting refused by fish. What do you do then? First, go through your fly box and pick a new pattern. Instead of going for a dry that’s an exact match, get a bit creative. Tie on something with less hackles or a slimmer profile, or change up the color a bit. Little adjustments like these can be the tweak you need to put a trout on your line. Just because a fly looks right to you doesn’t me the fish like what they’re seeing.
Don’t be afraid to modify flies that you have already to make them sparse. If you don’t have anything else to offer then your only option is to try and clip some hackle fibers, maybe remove the tail feathers of the fly. Just don’t expect to keep casting over the same fish with the same fly if things aren’t working out. If the trout are refusing it, then they will continue to do so until you switch things up with another pattern.
Patience pays off
The next time you stumble across a hatch, remember: Patience is crucial when setting up for rising trout. Take your time. And if you think you’re doing everything right and still get refused by the fish, look at it as a challenge that’s can be met. With the right fly, the right drift and the right consideration given to the fish, you can crack the code and put a trout on your line.
Sometimes we may go home without success though, and by taking what we’ve seen and learned to the fly vice or fly shop we can try out new patterns and fool them next time. No pleasure compares with getting beaten one day, going back to the drawing board, going back out the next day, and then fooling fish after fish with your new fly—and new perspective.
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