Sight Fishing Tips for Fly Fishermen

Sight Fishing Tips for Fly Fishermen
Sight Fishing Fly Fishing Tips

Sight fishing is the most exciting way to catch trout while fly fishing. It is late afternoon and you have crept out of the office an hour early to fish on the way home. You are standing a just few steps from your truck, thirty feet above the Eagle river, deep in the beautiful Red Canyon stretch. You have parked just downstream from Wolcott along highway 6. It is early late summer and the water is low and cool.

The insects are hatching and the air is filled with bugs. The water is and crystal clear. These are ideal conditions to find feeding fish that can be seen before making a cast.You are about to climb down the steep path to the river when you hear a violent splash – the unmistakable sound of a huge rainbow crushing a fluttering caddis fly. It takes no time at all to spot the monster. He is held up in front of a large rock just inches below the surface moving back and forth searching for his next victim. Your heart races and your hands shake as you plan your attempt on the beast.

You know that if you are going to catch this fish, you will need to do everything right. Here are a few tips that will give you a better shot at this big rainbow. Keep these in mind and you may just have a chance.

Prepare for Success

  1. Sight fishing is impossible without good polarized sunglasses. Buy the best you can afford. Poly or glass lenses both have pros and cons that amount to personal preference. Amber is a good lense color for our area.
  2. Move slowly. You’ll see a lot more fish if you take your time.
  3. Look for shadows, color and movement. Usually you won’t see a whole fish at first.
  4. Elevation helps. Check out the river from above if possible before stalking into position
  5. Get as close as possible. Seeing a fish and catching it are two different animals. Resist the temptation to cast as soon as a fish is sighted and instead move into range.

Angles are Everything

Before you even begin walking towards this trophy trout, think carefully about all of the angles involved and plan how to best use them to your advantage. The first one to pay attention to is sunlight. Our shadows can easily alert a trout to our presence, and a careless angler can spook a fish without even knowing it.

The worst time to snag the willows behind you is now, with the rainbow of your summer waiting in front of you. Think about these obstacles before you cast. It is better to lay the first cast too short or a few feet outside the fish’s lane than to waste ten minutes climbing through the White River National Forest looking for your size 14 Missing Link Caddis.

Another frustration that many dry fly fishermen experience is “lining” fish. The sight and sound of your heavy, green fly line and leader crashing down against the surface often discourages fish from taking your fly. A bad cast leaves line directly over the fish’s eyes, while a good one shows the fish no gear except the fly.

We all know that the drift is the most important part of the presentation. A natural, dead drift is crucial in any fishing situation. If your drift is dead, the fish is more likely to eat. It is just that simple. Plan ahead to get the best drift possible. If you are casting across a heavy current, position yourself further upstream than normal and be ready for a big mend as soon as possible.

Stay tuned for Sight Fish with Better Results Part 2 for more tips and tricks to seal the deal with that dry fly eating monster.

Andy “Otter” Smith, Guide and Content Writer