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Leeches, Scuds, Woolly Buggers, Lawyer Flies, Glow Bugs, Wool Head Sculpins and Lunker Trout, Oh My
When The Fish Are Down In The Water Column
Dry Flies Won't Work
Photo Double Rainbow Trout On A Fly In Utah
Always rig two flies and you just may double the pleasure and double the fun with a pair of really nice Spring rainbow trout. Let's hope your leader and tippet are strong enough to endure the ordeal. Two large streamers or wet flies are just as good as any other attractor combination. Try out whatever appeals to you. Remember to change it out if the pair are not working. Something as simple as a larger or smaller hook size in the same fly will be the trigger to success. For still water fishing remember to move the flies slowly on the retrieve and be patient on the cast to let the flies completely sink to the bottom when using streamers or nymphs before starting the slow retrieve. The basic food of still water trout are Scuds, Leeches and Chironomids (covered in the previous article). 90% of a trouts diet comes from insects living below the surface of the water so it is a good idea to know what these insects are and how they live in and move around in the ponds and lakes they call home. Dry flies are a true adrenalin rush but they are not always available to the trout so the avid fly fisherman must be prepared if he also wants to be the year round fly fisherman.
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My Original Chenille Halloween Leech
This is my take on a night crawler or a really long leech with some color contrast. Jigging this long body creates a really nice curling pattern and the
quick rod tip action allows the leech to really stretch out long and lean as it shoots through the water for 4-6 inches and then drops back to the bottom, and allowed to rest for a few seconds before starting all over again. On an open lake, right after "ice off" I like to drift fish this one from my one man pontoon boat just a couple of feet below the surface. It has the look of an easy meal to slow moving lake trout and I believe the presentation of floating in a fully stretched out position has the appeal of an easy meal that is just waiting to be picked off by a hungry Spring trout.
Photo Bead Head Woolly Bugger
Colorful Woolly Bugger with a gold bead head has contrasting black with orange body and white hackle. "Jigging" and slow retrieve is the ticket to successful Spring fly fishing using contrasting colors for attraction. This is another favorite for ice off on the lakes both big and small. Is anyone thinking Strawberry Reservoir, besides me ? Try stringing up a couple of these combinations and create a parade of color. What, two streamers at once ? Oh, Yeah. Give it a try and you just may be surprised at which contrasting colors pull in the big ones. With a short stubby tail I don't mind a bead head for extra weight and glitter on this fly but I do fish it a little differently than a non bead or cone head. Quick jigging with the rod tip while moving the rod side to side to create a back and forth swimming action when combined with a slow "finger over finger" line retrieve will give this fly all of it's action and it doesn't require a lot of movement to generate a hit. Remember to lower the rod tip so the fly makes a quick dive to the bottom at the end of the upward tip lift and before the line retrieve or after the rod tip lift and at the end of the side to side rod movement creating the swimming side to side action. Try both methods.
Photo Bead Head Chartreuse Leech
Broadcast Your Fly To All Trout In The Area. Change your patterns and your colors if the fishing is slow. You want to have as many presentations as possible while you move up or down the stream or pond bank or just drift along in your boat. You are looking for active feeding trout, so be sure to change color patterns, move (only a couple of steps every few casts, wind and waves will do all the work on lakes and ponds) and "dance" your presentation for the best success using bright colors. Remember to let the fly settle back down and rest on the bottom after each dance so it appears to be in trouble or hiding from any of the opportunistic fish in the area.
Photo Black Egg Sucking Leech
This fly creates a "two-fer" meal for the trout. The leech and a tasty fish egg (two for the price of one)! Contrasting the bright red glow bug with the jet black body these colors allow the fly to stand out in clear or stained water of Spring. There is no leaded wire on the fly or a bead head for extra weight. To properly weight this fly locate sinkers on your leader above the head so the fly can freely float in the currents and be unfettered from the rocks and debris on the bottom, the sinkers will take the abuse of these obstacles. The sinkers can also be bounced using the rod tip allowing the fly to dip and dive without the extra weight from lead wire or a bead head. The fly also flows more smoothly in the currents for a more realistic look without the extra weight of the bead right on the head, but it also moves more slowly so use patience to let the fly "flutter" all the way to the bottom on the first cast and at the end each short retrieve.
Bright Orange Says Here I Am
Photo Gold Bead Head Orange and Red Leech
Add some red and get a really brilliant pattern moving through the water that is hard for even the most nonchalant lunker to ignore, let alone miss. This type of bead head I usually fish one to two feet above the bottom and allow the head to dive and rise using my rod tip and short strips of my line, two to four inches at a time. On still water a strike indicator also assists in the rise and fall while letting me know when the fly hits the bottom. The strike indicator will move backwards toward the fly while the fly is floating down and the indicator will stop moving when the fly is on the bottom. I give a slow count to "10" when the strike indicator stops moving, lift the rod tip, drop the tip back down near the surface, and strip a 4-6 inches of line in and start the process over again. Strikes come as the fly is falling. Be ready for the strike indicator to move in one direction as cruising fish swim and suck in the fly as they continue to swim steadily in the direction they were heading when they encountered your fly. Set the hook solidly by pulling the rod backwards with the rod tip just above the surface of the water and parallel to the top of the water. Lifting the rod straight up will have you miss a lot of strikes since this movement lifts line off the water, before it places pressure on the fish this extra time allowing for a slow response allows the fish time to feel the pressure of the slowly tightening line in it's mouth and have time to "spit" the hook and swim away.
Don't let the big ones get away! I have seen professional fishermen on video's fail to use this technique and have the undesired results of missing the big one time and time again!
What Looks Like A Fish And Swims Like A Fish
Photo Wool Head Sculpin
With a wool head, feathers for fins and a rabbit zonker tail this critter imitates tadpoles, small fresh water catfish, salamanders and dozens more. Next to marabou, rabbit hair adds the most incredible shimmer and live look to an artificial lure when submerged in the water that can be imagined. The long tail sways effortlessly with the slightest tug of the line by an angler, sliding and slicing through the water like the natural tail of a fish. It is truly mesmerizing to watch as it moves gracefully in the water. This fly is large enough it could have a gold cone head for weight, but this one does not. I prefer to add two or even three snailed sinkers on the leader, the first on located about 6 inches from the eye, and another up the line about 14 inches and if the water is fast or deep a third sinker another 12-14 inches above the second sinker. Thus the line from the fly to the last sinker sits fairly level in the water as it sinks and the current can carry the free floating fly up and down to the bottom as the sinkers bounce and sometimes hold to the bottom. I like the fly to be as free as possible imitating a very natural swimming action. I can raise my rod tip to release the sinkers from the bottom and let them sink again while the fly takes on a life of it's own unencumbered from extra weight on it's head from a bead or a cone.
Gold and Olive Offers Flash And Subtle Natural Color
Photo Gold Bead Head
Fly fishing is not a science, but a sport and a hobby. Use the techniques, tips and fly patterns you see I offer and try some of your own.
Remember it's called "fishing" not "catching" but with some good ideas, basic understanding and a willingness to try you too will catch some fine trout and earn some bragging rights.