Catch More Trout
England International and angling guide Nick Dunn identifies three things NOT to do to catch more trout!
OK, here’s the outline; you are a reasonable fly caster, you have a great rod and reel outfit and you have a bunch of flies you are happy with that have caught you plenty of fish in the past. You have the right clothing and waders, a decent waistcoat, you’re feeling good, you look the part with your new fancy polaroid’s on and you can’t wait to get out there to have a day on the water getting your string pulled and catch a few fish – nothing wrong with that, life is good – right?
The Fluorocarbon Revolution
Now, if you are like most fly fishers, you will probably have joined the fluorocarbon revolution and you are using it for most of your leader setups. Great! So you should, it’s the best thing to have happened to improve trout fly presentation in a long time. That said, in my opinion, there are good ones and not so good ones. How so, I hear you say and why does that matter, they are all fluorocarbon – right? Sure, but some are better than others and typically they are the more expensive ones. This may be a contentious point for some folks, but I am totally convinced of this.
I am all for saving money like the rest of mankind, but it’s my firm belief that attempting to save money on the business end of my fishing gear, is actually a complete waste of money! Here’s why. Ask yourself these questions: How much did my rod and reel cost? How much was the fishing permit? How much did my new waterproofs cost? How much did it cost me to get here in fuel? How much is the B&B I booked? You get the picture!
All these add up to a small fortune but we pay for them without question, as they are essential. Now ask yourself, how much was the leader material that I am about to lash my flies to? £5? £10? Honestly, if it was less than £20 per 100M it is probably not one of the good ones and you are most likely going to have less fun catching fewer fish, but all the other costs of your fishing trip are going to remain the same.
So my No.1 of “What NOT to do” is, don’t buy cheap leader material on the basis that; “if it is fluorocarbon, it must be fine.” In the scheme of things, spending a few quid more on good leader material is a fractional additional cost to improve your sport and enjoyment compared to the overall cost of your hobby. I have proven this to my fishing buddies and to myself time and time again. Take my advice and do yourself a massive favour, don’t skimp on the business end, go and get some thinner, less shiny, less visible (to trout) more expensive leader material and you will catch more trout.
I am all for saving money like the rest of mankind, but it’s my firm belief that attempting to save money on the business end of my fishing gear, is actually a complete waste of money!
Angle The Rod Tip
Another fairly recent angling advancement has been in the development of fishing lines. We have all sorts of different tapers and sink rates available to us now. We also have a choice of lines for bank and boat fishing, some of which enable us to cast much further from the bank with less effort and others allow us to fish our flies in a sweep motion back to the boat for best effect. A lot of these lines have low or non-stretch cores allowing us to feel for takes and are much more sensitive to tiny plucks and other “knocks on the door” alerting us to the presence of a fish. Brilliant, right? The problem is, when a fish decides on a less polite approach and “kicks the door in” with a massive pull, we are often not ready for it and we end up with a “smash take” … no fish, no fly and sometimes a completely lost leader or at best a re-tie and a waste of valuable fishing time. So my second “what NOT to do” is; don’t fish with the rod pointing straight down the line at the flies as this is the root cause of smash takes when using low stretch lines.
When doing this, there is a nothing more certain than the danger of getting smashed to bits on a regular basis, believe me, I have been broken off more times than I can remember before I realised the answer. The only thing other than my upcoming tip, is to use really heavy strong mono, but that will reduce the number of takes you get by a massive factor anyway, so is pretty pointless. Fishing with even a small angle between the rod and line buffers those “out of the blue” aggressive takes and you will experience many fewer smash offs. Make this one of your really good habits and it will pay dividends.
Tidy Or Shaggy Flies?
Ultimately, what the trout eats or grabs at the end of our expensive, thin, low flash Fluorocarbon fished on the end of our snazzy new low stretch, hi-tech flyline, is the artificial fly we choose to present. One thing I am pretty passionate about is how the fly looks in the water and therefore how it is tied in the first place. As a young fly tier sometime back in history around the time of glass fibre rods being new and cool, I used to create them with great pride and the neater the better was what I believed to be the objective.
My little brother who was new to fly tying would create some of the most ugly, shaggy, unkempt flies I had ever seen! Oh how I laughed at his incompetent attempts! On fishing with said abominations however, he seemed to have more success than me with my superb neat and tidy efforts. What the beep is going on, I would wonder! Upon reflection now, he had inadvertently stumbled upon something, which to me is now an obvious and essential rule of thumb. Neat and tidy flies (apart from a few exceptions like glue buzzers) don’t look as good in the water as their more shaggy and importantly, more mobile cousins.
My third and final “what NOT to do” is, don’t assume that neat flies are any good because they look beautifully tied. I always have a few bits of Velcro with me while I am out fishing so I can “beat up” any flies that I think are too neat before I will fish them. This is especially true of dry flies like Shipman’s Buzzers and flies tied with seal’s fur as well as nymphs like Hare’s Ears and Damsels. My little brother inadvertently taught me this lesson many years ago and it still stands up to scrutiny today.
Nick Dunn is a fanatical reservoir trout angler, earning six England Loch Style caps over the past 13 years. In 2016 he captained the England team to a resounding victory at the Spring International in Southern Ireland. Nick is now a full time professional guide on the best Midlands reservoirs.