Three years ago, in our second podcast ever, Dave and I identified “5 Ways to Catch More Trout.” We still stand by what we shared then. Plus, now that we are much wiser and much better fly fishers (insert laugh track or an eye roll emoji here), we have added a couple more ways to help you catch more trout. If you’re new to fly fishing or tired of the same old results, these insights might make all the difference.
1. Learn the art of nymph fishing
We all love to catch fish on the surface with dry flies. That’s the reason many anglers take up fly fishing.
Yet as every expert says – 85% of a trout’s diet is under the surface.
To catch more trout, learn how to drift a nymph (or a two-nymph rig) along the bottom of the river or stream you’re fishing.
2. Fish the banks
I’ve watched a lot of drift boats over the years on the Yellowstone and Madison Rivers in Montana.
Guess where they fish? The bank!
Trout often lurk at the river’s edge — not necessarily in the middle of the river or stream. Savvy fly fishers who are wading will sometimes walk out a ways into the river and cast back towards the bank. To catch more fish, fish the bank.
3. Improve your casting
You don’t have to be a great fly caster to catch fish. But you’ve got to get better. Short casts are more than adequate.
Some of the biggest rainbows I’ve caught in Montana during the spring on the Madison River and during the fall on the East Gallatin have been about 10-15 feet in front of me.
The key is accuracy and presentation. So watch fly fishers who are better than you — whether in person or view their instructional videos (on YouTube).
4. Go where the other fly fishers are not
This means walking a mile further than the next fly fisher.
Dave and I have been doing this for years on the Yellowstone below Tower Fall in Yellowstone National Park. We’ve had some tough scrambling to do in order to get up and over a cliff that stops many fly fishers.
However, going where other fly fishers are not does not always require a longer hike. I’ve learned to fish upstream from fishing accesses in Montana. A lot of fly fishers in drift boats are getting ready to take out, and so they skip some good water as they get close to the access.
5. Hire a guide
There’s some expense here, but every time we’ve fished with a guide, we have learned something new. Good guides help us with our casting skills, fly selection, and reading water. Split the cost of a guided float for a day with a friend, and you’ll be surprised and how much you improve — and how many more fish you catch than usual.
6. Fish with streamers more often
Both Dave and I got so infatuated with fishing nymphs and dry flies that we neglected streamer fishing for a few years. But about the time we started out podcast, we started slinging and stripping streamers more frequently, and the results have been fantastic. We’ve caught more fish and even bigger fish.
There’s nothing like a black or olive Woolly Bugger for getting the attention of a trout.
7. Hang out in your local fly shop more often
In the Age of Amazon and online shopping, it’s easy to order all your gear online.
But while ordering online might be more convenient, a trip to your local fly shop allows you to pick the brains of the fly fishing experts and guides who work behind the counter.
Make sure to buy a few flies and some of your more expensive gear from the shop. It needs your support. And you’ll be surprised at the intel you can pick up and use on your next trip.