Only do this. If you want to catch them.

Only do this. If you want to catch them.

Only do this. If you want to catch them.

For the dry fly angler. Yessir.

  • Reach Mend. Reach Cast. Or some sort of slack-line presentation.
  • Approach quietly. Headhunters understand that the element of surprise is still very effective in war. SO don’t rush in and spook that fish before you want to catch him. Sit. Low profile. Or stand so the trout does not see you. Sneak in and catch him.
  • If the line is not above him, generally the fish will not find your fly attractive. Line beside the target, or too tight a line, is bad. Not fishy.
  • Slow Down. If you rush in, bad things happen. Be patient. The patient dudes catch the most fish.
  • Don’t guess. Those who guess every cast do not catch rising trout often. Picking up a different length of line every cast is wrong. Making it up every cast is difficult, even for experts. Measure out the distance and carry the line. Do not shoot line. A 32′ cast does not require any caster to shoot line. Shooting line is guessing. Rising trout allow you to see every component of dry fly fishing. You can see the fly, the rise form, the trout, and the drift. No room there for guessing, no reason at all. So why make it harder on your self by guessing every freaking cast, drift. Why?!?!? I can tell you it does not work. Honest.
  • Be creative. Just because the water is littered with Trico Spinners, and the fish is eating Trico Spinners, does not mean you have to toss a Trico Spinner at him. Look how many Trico Spinners that trout does not consume. This is where fly fishing gets funner. Figure out a snack for that rising trout and feed him.
  • Fish Harder. That is Guide Eric Mondragon’s theory. Just fish harder. I don’t think I know what that means, but you can assign your own definition.
  • Hero Casts or Hail Mary’s. Don’t do it til the final seconds are not he clock. Yes, utilize this often futile tool, but only when the time presents itself.
  • Long casts, short drifts. That is key. Those who try to drift the fly 22′ towards said rising fish, generally never do not achieve the goal. But if you try over and over and over to drift the fly 11′-22′ feet to the rising trout, you still will not be successful. So, why not try it again?
  • Reach Mend or Reach Cast or Pile Cast or Parachute or whatever to get slack car the fly as it drifts to the fish.

You can do it any way you want. Most of those techniques do not work. If they did not work the first 29 drifts on that fish, only insane fellas try it again, only harder? Not smart. My suggestion is that you change something. And I don’t mean your fly. The fish will eat many food options as they present themselves properly, realistically. Fly is secondary. The fly does not matter if your drift sucks. Not at all. Work on making your drift the primary tool for your success. Then use the fly as a tool as well. Just like the new girl in school. Every fly change is just like that. Be prepared and present the new fly, as if you have a new life. A short second chance.

There it is. Make good drift near fish. That is my theory. Placement is secondary really. Right? Good drifts near fish will entice an eat. Bad drifts on the trout is not good. Bad drifts away from trout, no worries. Good drifts near fish. They can swim, they move, they like perfection.

Happy Monday. We are dry fly fishing early, under smoky skies, in Montana.


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  • Never forget, feeding is not only a biological imperative, but other than resting, it’s all they do. And the bigger the fish, the more they have to eat. Trout really want to eat your fly as long as it looks and acts like a tasty and (preferably) helpless food item. Selectivity is a somewhat over rated concept. Trout are far more often put on high alert by bad approach and poor presentations. When it all really comes together, they HAVE to eat your fly. I have really upped my game thanks to Mark’s advice here. The first cast thing is an even bigger deal than he lets on. I would add two items to this list:
    1) Go LONG with your leader/tippet, really LONG
    2) If you are a wade angler, whenever possible, MEND with your FEET. Aerial mends are second best; water mends, meh.

    • Yeah agree Rick. I mostly have given up on males and the first cast thing. They all agree that the first bullet out of the rifle is the only one that matters. And then promptly/hurriedly drag the fly over the heads of rising trout while they gauge the distance, the drift, the current, the wind, and the sun. So, the 47th bullet must be the one. I guess?

  • Mark, love reading your stuff. The way I describe it is related to golf. A fella should land their fly about 12″ directly above the golf hole and needs to float it through that 4″ wide window that is the hole. Don’t give them time to think, just to react. Sounds tough but practice makes perfect.

    PS – 22′ drift…that might work if they have a Buzzball on. 🙂