|Posted by Chris Dore on January 21, 2012 at 4:20 PM|
Following my previous blog on summertime tips and catching more fish I have recieved numerous requests for more advice on how to improve your catch rate. The following are a few random thoughts over a glass of vino.
Who says the Upper Mataura is tough in summer? Make the right cast with the right gear and you will catch fish.
Everyone knows someone who catches more than their share of fish. The 10 percenter (we also believe there is the 1 per center, but that’s for Mr Chu to discuss). On days when others are scratching for a hookup or two, this angler is onto their seventh. Even in challenging conditions they will pull one or two by some method or other, or through concerntration and perseverance with an effective and adaptive array of techniques alone. I am fortunate enough to fish with a number of these top anglers, and the following are just a few scrambled thoughts on how you too can improve your strike rate.
Practising your rigging and knots so you are quick and efficient onstream will catch you more fish. Not only will your ties be stronger and more durable, but the ability to reconnect fesh tippet within a minute will have your fly in front of the fish sooner, often before they get a chance to notice you standing ther, fumbling around with your mono. Too many people struggle with knots, often taking several minutes to reconfigure a leader. Pick a few efficient knots, and learn them well.
Casting needs not be mentioned to those who follow my blog. Practise, practise and practise is my mantra. The trout dont care if it’s blowing a gale, or wether you only get to fish a couple of times a year - if you cannot put the fly correctly infront of the trout, he will not eat it. One bum cast, and he is gone. Put in the time on the grass prior to your trip to make the most of your opportunities on the stream. When you are on the river you are fishing. Not practising.
Know how different fly and leader configurations will perform. It’s no use practising with a bit of fluff at home on a 9' leader, then tying on a size 10 double tungstan with a 15' lead when called for... It is not going to perform the same. Understand the effects of shortening / steepening your tapers and also just what happens when you lengthen / soften up the leader system.
Also get a feel for softer / stiffer leader materials and their effect on the delivery of your fly. It’s very rare that i fish with a 9' 6lb leader with a couple of feet of similar strength tippett for long at all. I never hesitate to chop and change as needed.
Big fish dont care if you are tired, or only fish a couple of days a year. If you cant put the fly in front of them without alerting them, you will not catch them.
Following on for the above, dont hesitate to change if it’s not working. Areas you are fishing (fish arent always in the foam...), fly pattern, size, weight, tippet weight and length or the entire rigging configuration or even the leader itself. If you need to get deep, get rid of that tapered leader and attach 10' of level fluro to cut through the surface and get deep quick. I will often change my tippet and fly two or three times whilst moving up the same pool depending on where we are required to present the fly (ie; is the fish tight under the willows, alond the shallow edge of the riffle or deep in the run itself? All require different approaches). Are you sight fishing with a single nymph? Do you need a heavier bomb to get the fly of choice to the right level or get noticed? Do you need an indicator or maybe a dry dropper combo in shallower riffles to assist in strike detection? Maybe a hi viz parachute a foot above your willow grub so you know where your fly actually is? If you need to, simply change. If you have practised your knots then it will take but a moment before you are ready to roll.
Change your knots often. When tightened, your knot stretches and stresses your tippet matial. The longer it remains in this stretched state, the weaker it becomes. You only have to leave a tippet tied on overnight to give it a pull the next day and see how easily your knot gives way. I change my knots every hour or so, even if i have not made a cast, more so if i am constantly working the water. It’s just what i do. This way my leader system is the strongest it can be and if i break off a fish, so be it. We all lose fish due to knots breaking, that’s life. But if it’s a freshly tied and tested knot, then i at least know that ive done everything i can to ensure i am fishing with the strongest connection possible, and there was little more i could do.
Know your water. Now this doesnt necessarily mean learning a particular river, but learn different types of water, where trout will sit, and how to approach / work it efficiently. This will leave you in good stead when visiting new territory. And do not avoid the faster water in search of the gentler riffles and pools. A lot of the better fish in any given river will hold in the heavier runs. Learn to read these, sight through them and fish them well and you will catch more, lesser pressured and often larger fish.and get out there in a varity of conditions. I always say, you will learn more in one day of inclement weather than a week of sunshine and calm days.
Have the right flies. Now this doesnt mean carrying boxes of different flies, but carrying a number of "go to's" in a variety of sizes, weights and dressings to accomodate the situations you may encounter. It’s no use having a 2.5mm tungstan bead when a 4mm is called for. Likewise it’s no use having a size 16 spent spinner when the fish are onto 18,s, or size 14 parachutes when fish are gulping big size 10 onisigasters. Familiarise yourself with what the trout are feeding upon, and their habits. The ability to tell the exact moment a mataura brown switches from willowgrub to emergers or duns to spinners can make or break your afternoon. Often, reading the conditions and knowing the behaviour of these insects will give you the upper hand here.
Plan your trip. It’s no use visiting an open tussock valley in heavy cloud and pouring rain, where a river that follows a dark, bush lined bank will give you better visibility. Likewise gale force winds can be unbareable in the afomentioned tussock valleys, whereas a meanding willow lined stream will be much more workable.
Also be aware of seasonal influences on your rivers. That tiny tributary that fished well in October could be a whole different story come feburary, when most fish have dropped out or taken to cover when water temps soar. Trout will often migrate noticeably throughout a catchment. Knowing their habits will put you where the fish are.
Keep your gear in top shape. Is your reel functioning smoothly? Are your rod guides alighned and in good condition, and how about that net? Is it secured well, yet easily removed for the moment when the fish rolls to your feet? Fly boxes should be neatly organised so you can select the right fly at a glance without fuss and your nippers in tip top shape, and sharp, so theres no stress when removing flies etc. spare tippet in different specs should be topped up and adily accessible, and stored in a way so as to remain tangle free. It’s all about making quick changes and getting your fly straight back out there in front of the fish people...
Use good gear. Rods, reels and especially flyline and leader material. Why quibble over the price of a good spool of flurocarbon when your onstream time is limited. Make the most of your time on the water by using good kit and you will spend more time fishing, not retying, and you will catch more fish. Id rather use a top quality $25 spool of fluro than a $10 spool of rot. For the sake of 2 pints of beer you can ensure your day on the river isnt wasted retying broken knots and shredded tippet. Also bear in mind that a good co polymer is much better than a cheap fluro. Go this way if you can’t justify top fluro. (And remember, co polymer for surface presentations and film flies, fluro for everythig else. My approach anyway) good quality tippet makes a difference, and I have often seen that difference firsthand. Watching someone lose a big fish where it could have been prevented aint pretty. Likewise, use good hooks. For the sake of a couple of dollars, the hook is your final connection to the fish. Soft junk just isnt worth it, especially when your river time is limited.
Strong, fresh knots, high quality fluro and an accurate first cast put this fish in the net for Brendon.
But most importantly, you must have the right mindset. When i head out fishing i know i am going to catch fish. When im stalking a run i know there is a fish there and i know i am going to find him. If im blind fishing i know i am going to hook a fish, and if i am casting to a fish then i know im going to make the cast and bring him to the net.
If it doesnt happen i dont dwell on it or curse myself for stuffing it up. This negative mindset will only flow onto the next fish. Get over it fast, move on, and look for his big brother with a clear mind and renewed focus. Every cast is a new cast. Every fish is a new fish. Keep in the right mindset, believe that you are doing everything right and keep an eye open for a better opportunity.
If things arent going your way sit for a moment, think it through and attack it again from a different approach. If it looks like there should be a fish in there, there probably is. If he is feeding then you can catch him... So whats stopping you?