February 24, 2014 at 6:26 am #2983
Dry Fly GuyKeymaster
When sight fishing I do a lot of “stalking” and try to get close to the fish I’m after, as well as place myself in the best position for success. I certainly “stop” moving once I’m in an acceptable position for me.
So I’m curious, how close do you try to get, or is the distance less of a concern, and you move more for a favorable position?
In doing so what factors do you consider priorities? (e.g., quartering so you don’t line the fish; the location of your shadow; etc.)
Also, if you’ve got any great tips and tricks, please share them. I imagine most of us are a little rusty on our stealthy skills from the long winter.
~ DFGFebruary 25, 2014 at 8:57 am #2993
Very interesting question, and I suspect there is a myriad of possible answers. I am always amazed at how close I can get to a feeder, and I am equally amazed at how far away I’ve been when I’ll see a feeder go down. A lot depends, it seems, on the feeding frequency and method.
If a fish is consistently taking insects at a rate of, say, one every 45-60 seconds or faster with slow sipping rises, I can get pretty close if I’m wading carefully. That means no cleats, small steps and approaching from the side or from slightly below and to the side. I can get even closer if the rises are slashing and splashy (caddis) and not in the same location irrespective of the steadiness. I’ve often taken these kinds of feeders with nothing but the leader off the tip. The same applies to fish that are feeding in a wide lane perpendicular to the flow. Several times last year I could get close enough to these kinds of feeders that I could see the mouth open and the insect slide in.
Show me a fish that is rising at a rate of once every 4-5 minutes, even if it’s steady, and I seldom can get into a casting position inside 35-40 feet before the fish heads for the bottom. The difference is when that fish may be moving — not rising consistently in the same place. I’ll wait to see if it might be moving toward me, in which case I just “freeze.” If it’s moving away, “Adios.”
Tactically, I try and keep my feet close to the bottom, just above “sliding” steps. If a toe comes up against a large rock or other obstacle, I’ll “feel” around for as long as it takes to find a way around it. If a fish is steady, I’ll often wait between stalking steps to see another confident rise. As a side note, the waiting often pays off with another fish rising even closer than your objective.
I will always try to stay away from an approach that is from either directly behind or directly above the fish, primarily so the initial cast is not going to disturb the feeding lane. OTOH, I have often had fish begin feeding directly downstream of my position, and in these cases a dead downstream presentation is effective.
Complex question because of the circumstances involved, but a fun one to think about.
EricFebruary 25, 2014 at 9:41 am #2994
Too many variables for me. Anywhere from 5ft to 50ft.February 25, 2014 at 10:59 am #2995
Excellent answer Eric, very interesting.
I have not stumbled onto too many situations where I actually stalk an individual fish. I do a lot of blind casting into lanes where fish seem to appear, rise a few times and then stop, return, stop, etc. Hopefully will get into more of the situations you describe this year.
Since I’ve only got a real half season of dry fly fishing for trout under my belt, well, of course I’m an expert now.
The first thing I do when approaching a pool or part of a stream I want to fish is try not to fall down or into the water. This is key. Next I like to get a good V wake going to make sure the fish know I have arrived. Hey, its only fair.
Next I will eye up a large dead limb to snag. Once I’ve knocked the limb down into the water and it floats through the lie I was about to cast to I now have extra time to retie my fly and tippet. This is very convenient. I find large limbs work best.February 25, 2014 at 11:51 am #2996
I can recall many times crawling on my knees and elbows to get into a better
Position to drift a fly into a feeding lane …that’s obviously if I’m on land … If I’m in the water and see a trout sipping in surface flies I’ll try and approach as silently as possible not getting to close and spooking the feeding fish, I’ve noticed that many fly fishermen try to get as close as possible..IMHO not a good thing ..find that different streams in Oregon waters fish react differently, some are skitterish as hell and some you can just walk up to them ..guess it all stems from fishing pressure and whether they are wild or stocked ….
PaulFebruary 25, 2014 at 3:12 pm #2997
While I’d agree with everything Eric mentioned, I have to admit my experience is much more like DW’s. But the biggest part for me is trying to curb my excitement. Patience is often the name of the game when it comes to dry fly fishing.
One thing I always do when I get to the water is stop and watching before doing anything else. In fact, I consciously choose to not rig up my line before getting to the stream specifically so I have to stop and spend a minute or two getting geared up. That can make a big difference in your overall success at sight casting.
Once I’ve figured out where the target is relative to my position, it’s a combination of what Eric listed. An additional factor that comes into play quite a bit on my waters (usually spring creeks) is the water surface. If I’m fishing riffles, I can usually get pretty close. If it’s a glassy smooth run, I know I can’t risk disturbing the water by moving around. Sometimes just a few ripples can put a fish down. Unfortunately, that goes for casting, too. I’ll usually get one or two casts on a light tippet before the fish wises up.
Generally I prefer to throw a straight upstream cast, mostly because I’m not the best mender in the world. But I’m pretty good at putting a fly within a foot of my target, so I like to have those moments where the fly hits the water and immediately gets hammered by a trout.
BrettFebruary 25, 2014 at 3:48 pm #2998
I should have probably prefaced my remarks with some “environmental” criteria. Because my home water is the Harriman Ranch on the Henry’s Fork, I am always fishing to rising fish, never fishing blind. The first half hour or more of every outing is spent observing the water, looking for bugs and risers, often without even having a rod set up. Part of this process includes figuring out what looks to me to be the best approach to the water and the risers, or sometimes, if I’m anticipating a hatch, figuring out how to get to a piece of water where I expect the risers to appear.
Yeah, I know I’m spoiled, but the techniques I employ today were initially learned on freestone streams in the northeast and in Wisconsin.
EricFebruary 25, 2014 at 4:15 pm #2999
I was speaking tongue in cheek of course (no really I was!) but I can’t say none of that stuff has ever happened…
I usually try to stay as far back as possible as my casting is better than my underwater slippery boulder tippy toe skills. Often I found when trying to get closer I’m concentrating so much on where my feet go that by the time I get to a safe place to stand I’m too close. Depends on the stream of course.
The “local” ones I fish most often are usually not as difficult to get around. It’s all just a lot of fun, looking forward to enjoying some quiet time on a mountain stream sometime in the near future.February 26, 2014 at 8:08 am #3000
Dry Fly GuyKeymaster
I’ve really enjoyed this thread thus far, and have gotten quite a few chuckles out of Dark Water’s posts. I guess because I can relate so well to what he’s posted, even if none of that stuff ever happens to me either. 😉
Now concerning my own “underwater tippy toe skills”…
I almost always stalk a fish with position in mind, and place less emphasis on getting close. Of course, the “right” distance is part of positioning, but my concentration is almost always on placing myself where I can avoid tricky drag-inducing currents and in not giving myself away in the process. So I tend to focus on things like not casting an errant shadow; having “background” so I’m not sky-lining myself; and providing a clear casting lane, even if that means I’ll have to (false) cast in one lane and then make a slight change of direction, or perform a curve cast (or some other “trick”) to deliver the fly where I want.
Moving quietly and slowly is pretty much a given as far as I’m concerned, and as soon as I reach a location where I feel confident making a cast, I stop moving. Generally, even if there is another position that might prove to be better. Unless I have no fear of spooking a fish (which is a rare occurrence) “confident” is close-enough.
For my casting abilities, that generally means somewhere in the ± forty-five foot range, and just as often as not, it is in the thirty to forty foot range. (These distance figures always give me pause, and I’m always a little hesitant about using them, but that’s another topic, so I’ll post a new thread on that since it has just come to mind.) I’m not one that really enjoys “dapping” (I’m also not above doing it) so I tend not to close-in, and twenty feet is almost always more than close enough, the lone exception being really complex currents that I’m casting directly across. Then I want to get close enough to eliminate them or be able to keep my line off the water as much as possible. So getting close may “trump” other considerations.
~ DFGFebruary 26, 2014 at 9:32 am #3003
I can get incredibly close to a feeding fish say 20-30 feet by wading very carefully and this allows me to be much more accurate with my presentation. This works better in moving water for me. In pools it is more like 25 to 40 feet. This keeps the false casting down which I believe generally puts most fish down.
But sometimes I do like blasting out casts at times which probably puts a lot of fish down.February 26, 2014 at 10:54 am #3005
I have a dear friend that simply can’t sit still and wait and watch on the water. He has to be in the water and he has to be casting. It gets pretty frustrating for me at times because I know he puts down a lot fish for the two of us. I rarely blind cast, that includes fishing here in Vermont, out in Montana, and on the beach striper fishing. If I do cast without actually seeing the fish first it is at a spot where I have previously located fish or have a pretty damn good idea that there is one holding. Fishing northern New Mexico this past July was interesting where the water is always grayish off color making it very difficult to see fish that aren’t surfacing. I suppose that is why high sticking with a Dry Caddis-small nymph dropper set up is the common angling method out there.February 26, 2014 at 1:49 pm #3010
I’m in total agreement with rsagebrush re false casting and shadows spooking fish. In the past few years I become very aware of body, rod and line shadows effecting my fly fishing success….. Less and none is better, I’ve had Instances where I knew I had one shot at a 20 inch plus trout
Feeding on the surface, one good drift and if he took my offering I felt real good about my abilities to compete with this beautiful Trout, in most instances I find you never get a second chance to present a natural drifting fly when picking the line off the water to cast again to trout that size….they surely did not get to that size being stupid ..they can tell the difference between a natural and man made in a heartbeat ..your presentation must be as natural as humanly possible … That’s what IMHO seperates the real good fly fishermen from the duffers ….
PaulMarch 8, 2015 at 7:15 pm #4174
The faster the water the closer I can get to the fish. The closest I think I have been is probably between 10 to 15 ft. And thats with a dry fly. I have gotten closer if I choose to do that naughty, naughty thing called nymphing. But dry flies, I don’t dare get closer than 10ft.
As for position, I favor being down stream from my target so they can’t see me, and I believe my longest cast in this manner is maybe 25ft at most. I can be anywhere behind my target, from directly behind or off to one side of the seam.
I do also quarter, but again, I’ll move up and down the seam starting from the farthest point behind the seam. Once I start working up the seam, to the rock thats making the seam, then I get low and back off a little till I have completely worked it.
But in a pool, I’ll go longer casts.June 27, 2015 at 1:52 pm #4604
There was a time when, being more supple, I could crawl up the bank and dap trico feeders from 5-6 feet away.
I once stood on a foot bridge on Falling Springs and dapped 3 rainbows of 15-16″ in 20 mins. This was just above Edwards Ave, at the 2 stone houses. (Eric will know where, I’d bet.)
I have had fish rise next to me, no more than a foot or so away, during the White Fly hatch on the Yellow Breeches, but, that is in near total dark conditions, so proves nothing.July 8, 2015 at 4:19 pm #4632
Rising a foot away? I’ve never had that happen, but I could picture it. I’ve had several days where they were rising less than my rod’s length away from me.
I personally hate dapping unless I’m trying to make a streamer work. But I can’t even remember the last time I did that.
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