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Change Something & How to tie Crane Fly Larva

Change Something!

We've had a big week of clinics. An investment group came here for a corporate outing and the fishing was amazing and we were in Sandusky, Ohio, for a couple days at Rockwell Springs Trout Club with clinics and fishing was good there as well. I had an question from one of the students, “What do you do when the fish are not biting?” I thought about that question for quite a while after the clinic was over and on our 7-hour ride home that night. My answer was “Change something.” Where we were standing that day I knew we were fishing over fish. When you can't see the fish you have to wonder if they are there, but in this case I knew fish were seeing our fly. My theory is that if you don't move a fish on a certain pattern in say a dozen casts, you're likely not to change your luck in 3 dozen casts. So, do something. Here are a few photos from this week and some things that you might try:

Change the fly. Sometimes a simple color change will make a difference. This is especially true when fishing streamers. If you see fish rising and you think you're fishing a good imitation of what they are feeding on, look again. There may be a smaller fly hatching along with a larger flies and the fish might be feeding on the small flies. Toward the end of the March Brown hatch here, small sulphurs will be mixed in with the larger March Browns and it's easy to think that the fish are eating the big flies when it's just the opposite. Then later when the sulphurs are hatching, there might be spinners mixed with the duns and the fish will sometimes key in on the spinners which are much harder to see. It's the same when fishing nymphs, drop down a size and see what happens, or try another pattern. Earlier this week March Brown nymphs, size 12, were working and a couple days later the fish wouldn't touch them, but did take a bead head pheasant tail nymph, size 16. Same hatch, same conditions, but a different day. Lengthen or shorten the dropper. I've noticed over the years that we have gone from almost never fishing two flies to almost always fishing two flies. So many times our clients will ask the guides, “Do you always fish two flies?” To which our guides will answer, “Yes, almost always.” Almost everyone wants to fish dry flies, including me. But the truth of the matter is that most of the fish's diet comes from insects that are underneath the surface.

When we fish a dry dropper or 2-nymphs with an indicator we're offering the fish two choices. With a dry dropper it's fun to watch a fish come to the dry, but more often than not he will take the nymph. Do you have to fish a dropper? Of course not, but I am willing to bet that you'll be pleasantly surprised at how your catch rate will increase by adding the second fly. This is easily accomplished by attached 12-14” (depending on depth) of tippet material to the bend of the hook (or the eye) with a clinch knot and attaching a second fly. Pay attention to the dropper length and adjust it accordingly as the water gets deeper or more shallow. Change the tippet. If the tippet is too heavy the fly will not look natural in the water, it will look stiff and will not move about freely in the current and that will make the fish suspicious. When fishing dry flies the same thing happens but now on the surface. Fish that are caught and released will learn to look for the tippet and you may see them come up and examine the fly before taking it. If they detect the tippet or sense that the fly does not look like it should, they will refuse it. We find that lengthening the tippet or using fluorocarbon tippet often makes a difference or go to a lighter tippet, especially if the rod has a soft tip to absorb the strike and to allow you to land the fish without exhausting it.

Change angle. I remember being on the Bighorn years ago fishing the trico hatch and being frustrated because I couldn't catch any fish when they were literally rising all around me. We were with a guide that day and after a very frustrating hour our guide suggested that I try casting from behind the fish instead of from the side. I said I would be afraid of spooking the fish with my leader and he reminded me that I had a long fine tippet and if I didn't over shoot the fish by too much, it wouldn't spook. I had my doubts but gave it a try and started to catch fish. I couldn't see any drag on my flies from my original position, but the fish could see it. Sometimes the slightest change makes the difference. So try a reach cast or a mend, or change your position. A small adjustment might be all it takes. These are just a few suggestions to try when you're not catching fish. There are others for sure. If you have a tip that has worked for you, please let us know by using the comments section of the blog (you have to be online to do so.) We would love to share it with our readers.

Crane Fly Larva

With summer coming our thoughts turn to crane flies and other hot weather patterns. Crane fly dry flies are fun to fish and where there are crane flies flying, there is crane fly larva. Tim Flagler shows us how to tie just about the easiest crane fly larva ever. Thank you, Tim.

That's it for this week. As always, thanks for reading our blog. Get outside, the flies are hatching and the fish are rising!! See you next week.

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