Trout Talk

Five degrees of stupid

How not to catch trout while fly fishing

The other day, I started a three-month sabbatical, which is a super-cool benefit of being a Trout Unlimited employee for 10 or more years, but what it really means is I’m planning on fishing my butt off for several weeks (and maybe writing another book in the process).

I went down to the river on Day One so fired up and anxious, I found myself making a bunch of junior varsity mistakes and catching no trout in the process. After about an hour of getting schooled, I slowed down and figured out what I was doing wrong, and I thought that admitting my own bone-headedness might actually help some of you, so, lacking pride, I’ll spill the beans.

Dopey Deeter #1

I cast straight off a reel that had been sitting in my basement, without stretching the line. I saw the fish working, I wanted to fire away! But my casts were wobbly and inaccurate. It was like trying to push a corkscrew through a drinking straw. I had to call a time out and stretch the fly line.

Dopey Deeter #2

I fished the same fly I had on last fall, but I couldn’t see it. Actually, I was fishing a dry dropper rig. The glare was brutal, but still I flogged away at the runs, barely seeing the fly I had left on. I eventually tied on something I could see in the glare.

Dopey Deeter #3

As I could not really see the dry fly I was casting as part of the dry-dropper rig, I continuously beat the same line in the same run, over and over. You’re never going to beat a wild trout into submission.

Dopey Deeter #4

I cast from the wrong bank with the sun behind me, hoping to see the bug I couldn’t see anyway. Thing is, as I was doing that, I was false casting and making shadows. Iif any trout were there, they were on to me.

Dopey Deeter #5

Yeah, there was that wind knot thing in the tippet from last year. It didn’t matter… until it did. Despite my dumb mistakes, I did coax an eat, but I broke the fish off, because I was too lazy to fix the tippet and leader.

I totally get the enthusiasm, and the drive to get right after it. But until you slow down, factor in the shadows, think about the sun and shadows, and get your rig just right, it’s all folly. It’s always, and I mean always, better to slow down, rig right, put on a bug you can see, be in the right spot to cast, and then get after it.

I took a break. I smacked myself upside the head. I made all those adjustments. And then I caught three fish and went home.

By Kirk Deeter.