Fly Fishing Tactics and Techniques

As a fly fisher, once you have learned the basics of fly fishing, the next natural step is refining those skills and beginning to develop particular tactics and techniques that will make you more and more successful on the waters you fish. This section is organized by species and by "situation". This is because many different species may "eat" the same food as other species but the presentation of that food to the fish is often very different depending on such things as water type and conditions that vary from location to location, weather conditions, etc.


Rising Trout

Situation: Selective Rising Trout - There are few things more exciting than getting to the water and finding rising trout. There are few things that are more frustrating than not being able to hook one of these rising fish. Trout often get very selective in waters that provide large quantities of food and have numerous aquatic insect hatches.

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image credit: American Angler (photo by Jeremy Allan

Stillwater Trout_edited_edited.jpg

Situation: Stillwater Trout (Lakes, Reservoirs and Ponds)Many of my fondest memories over these many years of fly fishing center around fishing lakes and reservoirs. Henry's Lake and Island Park Reservoir in Idaho, Hebgen Lake in Montana, many lakes in California and Oregon...all have provided great memories as well as days of frustration. Almost all stillwater fly fishing is unique to the particular place and time. There are also things that they have in common and that is what I want to cover here.

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image credit: Fly Fisherman Magazine

Copper River Steelhead

Situation: Steelhead and Salmon - It is often difficult to generalize too much when it comes to salmon and steelhead fishing. There are, however, several things they have in common and that are very different from traditional fly fishing. This kind of fly fishing is done with much heavier gear in much bigger water. Both of these species are most often caught when they enter rivers and streams to spawn. As a general rule, neither of these fish sees a fly and really thinks "food" as they do not actively feed very much when on their spawning migrations. This is especially true of salmon. They most often will take a fly only when it is right in front of their face and it is more or less a nuisance to them. Steelhead are more likely to take a fly as a food item but will generally not go very far to chase it.

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image credit: David Lambroughton