Fly fishing for the beginner

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OnTheFly

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OK. So you have finally decided to get into fly fishing and you’ve taken the plunge by going out and buying a fly combo set so now you’re wondering how to catch fish with it. Not so fast! You still need a couple more things to insure success and to maintain interest. I suggest you start out fly fishing on lakes in a floating device such as a float tube, pontoon boat, kayak, etc. Once you’re out on the water, casting is not essential to getting the line out. Just lay some line in the water, pull some of it out from the reel and start trolling lifting the rod tip up and back down. The line will travel out without casting. A lake is also a perfect spot to hone your casting skills without the interference of obstacles behind you.

Contrary to popular belief, catching fish on a fly is not done simply by mastering a cast and placing a big bushy dry fly on the surface. Ninety percent of fish caught on a fly happens sub-surface. Fish are wary creatures and sometimes lazy. Being low on the food chain, they are always cautious and spook easy. So a fish will mostly stay away from the surface to avoid predators and instead clue in on an easier meal down under. So how do we get down to the fish? You will need a sinking line but one that sinks at a slow rate. Lines such as these are called intermediate sinking lines. Don’t replace the floating line that came with your reel, just purchase a spare spool and install the slow sink line on the spare.

So now you have arrived at the lake, there are no signs of rising fish and you’re wondering what fly to use. If there is no way to determine what the fish are eating then choose a searching fly. These flies do not imitate any one true fly but instead they imitate several others. For instance, an olive wooly bugger might imitate a dragonfly nymph, damsel nymph, or a leech. Other examples of searching flies are Carey Special and Zug Bug.

Now you are ready to fish. You have at least ten feet of tapered leader tied onto your fly line, and you are trolling very very slow in water no deeper than 25feet, with about 30 to 40 feet of line out. If there are fish in the area you’ll most likely hookup right away.

Other things to remember: Troll close to shore. (50 yards or so depending on depth) That’s where bug life is most abundant therefore that’s where the fish will be.
Troll with your rod horizontal with the tip almost in the water. This keeps the fly deep where it should be.
Try to gage line length by water depth and weeds.
Even if you snag on something momentarily, reel up and check your fly. Chances are there will be something stuck on the hook.
If fish start to rise then change to floating line with a matching dry fly. This is where you’ll need to able to fly cast but that’s another chapter.

Have fun out there.:)
 
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eggs

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Very nice write up... I had to learn the hard way.. first time on the water with you! The yard only helps so much.. (Lonn you da man)...

I plan on hitting a lake to try this out Sunday!
 
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Thuggin4Life

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great info. almost tricked me into getting a rod. on another note since you mentioned trolling. how well do you think a wooly bugger or other fly would fare behind a flasher trolling compared to a worm?
 
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everett464

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I love it! Really good advice.

But, with that, I am going to insert my 2 cents here, as a fisherman who has NEVER fished on anything else besides a fly setup. I learned to fish by myself, on smallish streams, and I think that all of the essential tasks in a fly fisherman's arsenal are best suited by the current of a 400-500 CFS trickle.

It is very true, that a vast majority of fish are caught underwater; most days I won't tie a dry-fly on, unless I have seen fish rise more than once in the same area. I think it's sort of like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's take on obscenity: I know it when I see it. If it's time to throw a dry fly out, you will know it. Until that magic moment, I fish nymphs. The great thing about fishing nymphs, is that for all intents and purposes, they ride the water much like one would expect a dry fly. You follow your strike indicator through the run just like you would a elk-hair caddis fly, and you expend the same amount of effort ensuring a drag free presentation.

First, I think it is important that one really be sure they find the right body of water to cast into. If you take your five weight out to the bank of the willamette, you are going to feel overwhelmed, and ineffective. Find yourself a small trout stream. The smaller the better, as long a there is some sort of place to cast. A little stream with a decent bank should be around the corner. Just ask someone. I like the Row, or the North Fork Middle Fork Willamette.

Second, casting is fishing. If you are like me, and are not privy to a good teacher, you are going to have to teach yourself through trial and error. Supplement your casting arsenal every chance you can, and never leave for a day of fishing without some essential task to improve on. I like watching any of the gazillions of youtube instructionals, and picking out some element to improve on. There are some really great online casting Professor's out there: find one or ten. The one that did me the most good was Mel Krieger.

Personally, I tend to think the roll cast is the most deadly weapon a stream fisherman can possess. If you never learned an overhead cast, but had a deadly roll cast, you would outfish the similarly situated overhead caster who had a weak roll cast on 4 out of 5 mountain streams. Of course, you are going to learn an overhead cast, because everyone does eventually with enough time, early time put into mastering a roll cast will just make the overhead all the easier.

Finally, I know the OP made the recommendation of a wooly bugger, and although I think that is a really great place to start, as I indicated above, I cut my teeth on straightforward nymphing techniques. The drawbacks to this technique is that casting a leader with an indicator and a nymph (or two) is a bit of a challenge the first time you do it. That said, with the aforementioned roll cast, you will gain confidence quickly, and you WILL catch more fish.

To fish a nymph, one need simply to tie a nymph on to the end of your tippett, and an indicator up the leader at a distance that your nymph will be in the bottom 6-12" of water; if the water is 4' deep, you put your nymph 3 and 1/2 feet under your indicator, etc... There are a hundred nymphs that will get the job done, and just like a dry fly, certain nymphs will outperform others depending on the season and the body of water. Know your hatches. A good fly to murder fish in Oregon all year long is a size eight mega-prince, so feel free to start there.

Anywho... Sorry to hijack, but I thought I might be able to contribute to this one.

Ev
 
Troutski

Troutski

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Great .....

Great .....

Great....this is what this site is all about; sharing and teaching. Kudos to you ....:clap:
A great tool for the novice....:dance::cool:

Chuck
 
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eggs

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I was always told in streams/rivers to set your indicator 1.5x -2x the depth you want your nymph... want it 4' deep, set your indicator at 8' as the nymph does not sink to the bottom(without splitshot) and will float at a different speed then the indicator on the surface.. i am sure a slow troll in a lake if you want it down 4' to set the indicator at 3.5' - 4' to bring it off the bottom a little as you arent going very fast and the troll will pull it up a bit..

The use of an indicator seems very helpful, but I almost feel like it isn't really fly fishing, just bobber fishing with a nymph.. i plan to stop using an indicator and focus on keeping a tight line presentation and feel the take instead of seeing the take via indicator going down..

Roll casting with an indicator is very hard for a new fly fisherperson.. if you don't learn to really whip the roll or lift the indicator off the water slightly, the roll cast will not happen and land a foot infront of you..
 
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everett464

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Eggs, I believe advice to set an indicator at a length greater than the depth is for "half-swinging" wet flies or nymphs: when you are going to keep your line a bit tighter in order to increase the distance from your indicator to your fly for spooky fish. On a standard dead-drift, having 2X leader under an indicator is going to cause you to get hung up on every stick and rock in the river. Most of the nymphs I use (and tie) have a good coil of weight in them before I dub, so as to get the fly down relatively quickly. If I am nymphing a particularly deep fast current, I am never afraid to get down and dirty with a piece of split-shot, or two.

Second, I think a tight line true swing is a fun presentation method, but the drawback is that you typically are only going to get strikes at the very end of your swing, when your fly is lifting in the current. I agree one hundred percent that roll casting an indicator takes a little practice, but IMO, there is no more productive stream method.

As far as indicator fishing being akin to bobber fishing, I will once again quote the late great James Castwell, "casting is fishing." The only presentation that makes me feel lazy is the whole dropping line off the end of a pontoon and trolling the line out. No offense to the OP, because no doubt it is an effective method, but if you never spend time learning to cast you might as well spend 1/4 of the money you would spend on a decent fly setup, and just get a bait-caster with some medium test line on it.
 
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bigsteel

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i prefer indicators in certain slots to keep my nymphs right in the zone....other places tight line nymphing works well....another method that works well is czech nymphing....
 
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everett464

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I saw some guys Czech Nymphing just the other day, I had never seen it before, and had to ask what the heck they were doing. The flies looked like skinny jigs, and they had three of them tied on apiece. Crazy method. I didn't see them pull anything up, but I didn't get anything either. I'd like to give it a try some day. It's another method that would probably bee good for someone who was having difficulty casting.
 
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OnTheFly

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Hey everett, Thanks for the additional input regarding nymphing. Rivers and streams are clearly the second half of any type of fishing next to still water. Just wanted to make clear to you that my method to pay out line from a floating device was directed to the first time fly fisherman and in no way was I implying that learning to cast was unnecessary. A first time fly caster would probably not be able to cast out enough line for trolling. I was only trying to make it easy.
 
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OnTheFly

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great info. almost tricked me into getting a rod. on another note since you mentioned trolling. how well do you think a wooly bugger or other fly would fare behind a flasher trolling compared to a worm?

lol. It almost worked didn't it! As far as trolling a fly as you said probably wouldn't work only because these bugs need to be presented in the natural way they travel through water. They will swim a short distance then stop then swim and so on. Your motor speed would be too fast. If you wanted to try something different you might try placing a little weight above the fly then wind drift with it or use the bobber/fly method.
 
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FishFinger

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OTF, Great thread. I had not seen (heard of) Czech Nymping before. "The cast is nothing more than a lob of the weighted flies upstream. Don't try 'flicking' a short cast, your ears will not be happy." Ha Ha been standing there with a fly piercing more than a few times.

MLT is excited to work out his new fly rod, I concur and think getting him out on the water w/o back side tangles will be a boon. (Rumor has it he's found himself a pontoon) Trolling a fly for trout is something we will put to the test.
 
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metalfisher76

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You absolutely CANNOT beat a decent roll cast on streams. Good thread.
 
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halibuthitman

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there are many fine books on casting.
 
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eggs

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We'll go fishin some time :D I don't have much issue casting :D but did as a beginner..
 
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