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Trout Fly Fishing Tips and Techniques

To become proficient in the fly fishing basics you must learn the fly fishing tips that apply to trout whether you are on a lake or a small stream. These include observing your surroundings and knowing what trout need to survive.

Slow Down and Observe

Before looking at the other fly fishing tips you must slow down and take a moment to observe what is going on around you.

On one of my last steelhead trips a friend of mine asked if I saw the summer steelhead in the last pool. The truth was I walked right by them. Slowing down is hard for me, but I'm learning.

A good hat and polarized sunglasses will make it easier to see the trout. You also need to pay close attention to any bugs that may be in the water or flying around. This tells you what may be on the menu for today.

What does a trout need? Think of sitting near the food table, out of sight from the “big bully” and you are on your way to understanding the needs of a trout. Find a place that provides good access to a meal and at the same time provides protection and you've got it made (as a trout).

General Fishing Tips

There are some fly fishing tips and techniques that are a main part of fly fishing basics. They are true whether you are fly fishing a lake or a stream.

  • Sound travels faster in water, so your wading can spook the trout. If you must wade, wade softly and fish the water close in first. Learn to stalk the trout.
  • Learn to fish with nymphs. Dry fly fishing is fun but keep in mind that 80% of the trout’s diet is below the water's surface. 

Also see: Fly Fishing with Nymphs

  Using Tiny Nymphs in Fly Fishing     

  Fishing Nymphs Using Indicators.

  • Always keep your hooks sharp.
  • Examine your fly and tippet every five or six casts. Check them for wind knots. These can weaken the line by 50%.
  • Wondering what color fly to use? If you still can’t tell after spending time observing the area, then use lighter colors in the summer, darker in the spring and fall.
  • Don’t “line” the fish. This is where your line lands over the fish, spooking it.

This book by Tom Rosenbauer is a great book on finding and catching trout when there is no hatch to match.

Fly Fishing Techniques for Streams

  • Stay low and stalk the trout.
  • Fish the seams. A seam is the division between the fast and slower moving water. Trout rest in these waters, then dart out into the current for a meal.
  • Try to get in a good position for a natural drift of the fly. A drag-free presentation is important for dries, nymphs and emergers.
  • Learn to swing a wet fly. By casting across and downstream you then let the fly “swing” across the stream. This imitates emergers or a darting minnow. Also see Fly Fishing with Streamers. This is an often overlooked method of fly fishing for trout.
  • If fly fishing nymphs, make sure the fly gets down in the water, even if you need to add a split shot.

Fly Fishing Tips for Lakes

  • Fish near the bank; this is where the food is. If possible, boat out from shore and cast toward the bank. See Fly Fishing Boats. Look for areas that have good vegetation and structure such as logs and rocks. These areas serve as both a source of food and protection for the trout.
  • Do not think you need a boat to fly fish lakes and ponds. Some insects like the dragonfly nymph are headed for shore, which gives the bank fisher the advantage. See Fly Fishing a Dragonfly Nymph for Trout.
  • Fish areas that are shaded, or fish just after the sun has set. Many insects hatch during this time.
  • You will need a longer leader because the trout have a longer look at the fly than in a stream.
  • If possible, fish areas where streams are flowing in or out of the lake. They provide a good source of food, protection and added oxygen.

There are Hundreds of Fly Fishing Tips

Yes, there are a lot of fly fishing basics to learn. There are times when you would want to “skate” a dry fly across the water. This sounds unnatural doesn’t it?

Our goal here has been to get you started with the basic fly fishing tips and techniques. Master them and you are well on your way to an enjoyable day of fly fishing on the water.

See How to Catch Rainbow Trout for more techniques.

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