S3:E42 Adjustments to Improve Your Fly Fishing Game

fly fishing

Frustration almost always sets in when the same tactics yield the same results. If you fish only once or twice a year with a guide or outfitter, improving your fly fishing game doesn’t really matter much. But if you take fly fishing with even a modicum of seriousness, you know the importance of making small adjustments. In this episode, we offer our list of adjustments to improve our fly fishing craft from the past couple years.

Listen now to “Adjustments to Improve Your Fly Fishing Game”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

What adjustments have you made to improve your fly fishing game? What single adjustment has had the greatest effect in the number of fish you catch?

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The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

We’ve published a book for regular-Joe-and-Jane fly fishers called The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists: Life is short. Catch more fish.

One person who purchased the book called it “cliffsnotes for fly fishers.”

To switch metaphors, perhaps it’s more like a handful of potato chips. It’s an entire book of lists. The goal is to help you find practical help quickly and in an easily digestible format!

Buy it today on Amazon for only $15.99!

11 Ways to Fish Streamers

fish streamers

The more I fly fish, the more I realize how many ways there are to catch fish. Surely, there are time-tested principles, but the tactics are legion.

Just recently, Steve (my podcast partner) and I fished streamers for several hours on the Blue River in Wisconsin. I threw mine upstream and stripped it back. Steve got on top of the run, tossed the streamer downstream, and stripped it back. Two approaches, same number of fish. Okay, so maybe he caught one more than I. But my biggest was bigger than, er, his biggest.

So in honor of our diverse means, I thought I’d list all the many ways I’ve caught trout on streamers:

1. Throw the streamer upriver …

and strip it back QUICKLY.

    2. Throw the streamer upriver …

    and strip it back SLOWLY.

3. Throw it upriver …

but don’t strip it back; let it dead-drift to the swing. Then strip it back in SHORT strips.

    4. Throw it upriver …

    but don’t strip it back; let it dead-drift to the swing. Then strip it back in LONGER strips.

5. Throw it directly across the river …

and strip it back in SHORT strips.

    6. Throw it directly across the river …

    and strip it back in LONGER strips.

7. Throw it directly across the river …

but don’t strip it; let it dead drift to the swing. Then strip it back in SHORT strips.

    8. Throw it directly across the river …

    let it dead drift to the swing. Then strip it back in LONGER strips.

9. Get above the pool or structure in the river …

and throw it downstream, stripping it back in SHORT strips.

    10. Get above the pool or structure in the river …

    and throw it downstream, stripping it back in LONGER strips.

11. Hold your fly rod behind your back with both hands …

and toss the streamer into the river and twirl around to retrieve the Woolly Bugger in short twirls, chanting, “Go Woolly Bugger, go!”

Other Articles from 2 Guys on Slinging Streamers

    Fishing Streamers in Smaller Creeks

5 Fly Fishing Lessons from a February Day

An app on my smartphone told me I needed to go fly fishing on a late February day. Oh, it didn’t say it in those exact words. But the weather app predicted a one-day window with mid-50s temperatures in southwestern Wisconsin. So I contacted Dave, my podcast partner, and we shifted our schedules to make it work.

Now, I’m at my laptop a couple of days later, and five lessons from that day come to mind:

1. Getting out of Dodge at the last minute isn’t easy.

Dave drove an hour from his home to mine on a Monday evening. We had decided to make the three-hour drive from my home that night to stay in a Super 8 near our fishing spot. That way we could hit water first thing on Tuesday morning.

Everything went according to plan.

But we were both fried emotionally when we left my house. Both of us overscheduled our Monday so we could be gone on Tuesday. I felt like I was on the run all day. Meetings ran longer than expected, and I had scheduled a razor thin margin between them. Dave’s SUV was in the shop, so he had to bring his family’s mini-van. I threw in two duffel bags of fly fishing gear because I didn’t have time to pack it into one.

Now I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that you have to push through the craziness that a last-minute trip creates. It’s worth it . . . eventually.

2. The early bird gets the worm.

Perhaps “getting the worm” is not an apt image for fly fishing. But bear with me.

Arriving at our destination on Monday night turned out to be a great move. We were able to get an early start on Tuesday and arrive at the Blue River before anyone else. The stretch we like to fish is less than two miles long. The “river” is really a small stream, so there are a limited number of productive runs.

The fly fisher who arrives first doesn’t have to take the leftovers.

3. Woolly Buggers are the ticket for coffee-colored water.

The Blue River always has a bit of color. It’s always a bit stained.

But there had been enough snow runoff that the water was coffee-colored. I suppose it was a rather weak coffee color. We guessed that Woolly Buggers would be our best bet, and they were.

Dave and I each landed two 14-inch browns — big fish for such a small stream. I also caught a nice rainbow and lost another brown after playing it for half a minute. All this happened in about three hours.

For a bright sunny day in February, we were pleased with the outcome. It was consistent with other days when we’ve had success stripping streamers in murky water.

4. The streamer bite has a definite window.

The first two hours on the river were productive. The last one was not. As the sun got higher and the temps warmed up, the fish stopped hitting streamers. Dave remarked that the streamer bite was finished for the day. I agreed for two reasons. First, I knew he was right. Second, it meant we could grab lunch at the local café sooner than later.

We both remarked that we could have (uh, should have) started an hour earlier. That would have given us a three-hour window of fishing rather than only two.

We’re not complaining — just observing: Once the trout are done feeding, it’s useless to keep fishing.

5. Mud can be slick.

I was worried about slipping on the ice and getting hurt. The good news is that this didn’t happen. The bad news is that I slipped on the mud and tweaked my ankle. It’s only a slight sprain, so I’ll survive.

Who knew that mud could be so slick! Let the fly fisher beware.

More Fly Fishing Lessons

Alright, I promised only five lessons, so I’m going to stop here. I won’t talk about:

  • How it’s best not to catch your front bumper on the concrete wheel stop at the head of your parking space. That might embarrass Dave;
  • How it’s easier to snap a front bumper back into place in the daylight than in the dark;
  • How it’s best to hide your limp (if you sprain your ankle) when you arrive home. Otherwise, your adult children might send the rest of the family a rather hilarious Snapchat video (complete with a satirical caption) at your expense.