In Part 1, I talked mostly about the importance of the angles we as fishermen need to be aware of while sight fishing with dry flies. Here are a few more tips on how to connect with that big feeding rainbow.
Timing is Important
Expert sight fishermen spend a lot of time studying their prey and watching the fish feed. It takes a lot of patience, but the better you understand what the fish is doing, the better you can anticipate what it will do while you are casting, mending, and drifting. Many anglers even go so far as to count seconds in between rises in order to make their drift coincide with the fish’s natural feeding timing. This technique helps make sure that the fish is looking up at the surface when your fly glides by. More importantly, it slows you down so you are more relaxed and make a good shot.
It is usually better to stay out of the water as long as you can while stalking a wary surface feeding trout. Remember that sound travels much further underwater, and even one loud step could alert a feeding fish to your presence and put it down. The sound of rocks grinding against each other is a great alarm for spooky fish. Pick your approach before actually moving.
Pick the Right Bug
Clear water and bright sunlight can make an already selective trout extra choosy. If your drift is drag-free, you are sure that you have not spooked the fish, and he still refuses your fly, try a different pattern. Size, color, and body profile all need to be reconsidered while choosing your next bug. Watch closely, is the fish eating mayflies masked by a heavier caddis hatch? Is he only eating flies that are skittering actively? Is your fly actually the right pattern but just a size too big?
A lot of times I catch myself getting lazy and drifting the same bug over and over again past a fish that just is not interested. It is much more effective to try a different bug. This accomplishes two things: it gives anglers the chance to match the natural bug better, and allows the fish to rest for a minute or two. I think this resting time helps the fish forget about your presence, making it more comfortable and willing to eat.
Plan Your Fight
If you get a take from this hog, you have done almost everything right. It won’t mean a lot though, unless you get it to the net. The last important step to landing this hog is the fight. Before you even cast to this fish, read the water and surrounding terrain. If this four pound rainbow decides to run straight downstream, will you be able to go with it? Is there a large log or boulder near by that the fish could wrap your fragile leader around? The time to think of these things is before you even approach the fish, not after you set the hook.
In the trout fishing world, nothing is more rewarding than stalking, feeding, and landing a fish you sighted. These situations are particularly challenging, and more often than not, we are left empty handed and heartbroken. The next time you find the fish of a lifetime, keep calm and follow these tips for a better chance at bringing him in.
Andy “Otter” Smith, Guide and Content Writer