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New Fly Guy - Basic Strategy
Thursday, June 7, 2007

It's been three months since I started fly fishing, what have I learned about strategies, flies, and the proper fish attack weapons?

Here's where I am (and welcome advice):

Rods:  On small water that is covered with trees (Big Hunting Creek, Accotink, Morgan Run), use a 7 foot, 4 wt rod.  On the bigger water (Bullpasture, Pedlar), go big with a 9 foot, 6 wt.  The only variation on this is when you want to dead stick nymphs - something that requires the longer rod.  Another exception is when you expect to encounter real beasts.  For example, the Pit River in California is small water - about as wide as Morgan Run in many places, but monsters lurk there.

Reels:  Only significant if you get a hog on the end of the line and need to use the drag.  Most of the fish I have caught to date have been landed just by finessing the line with my hand.  It's pretty easy to sense when to give the fish some line and let him work against the rod tip.


  • Calm Water:  Use dry flies or streamers.  You can cast these to targeted structure - trees, rocks, the bank and work them back.  The trick on a dry fly is to figure out when the drift becomes unnatural.  Once you twitch it or it drags in the wrong way, you need to throw it again.  Streamers, on the other hand, are pretty insensitive to presentation.  With those, it's a matter of getting them to the right spot and then working the streamer back with the proper amount of jerky/smooth action.
  • Fast Water:  Use nymphs or streamers.  Yes, you can let a dry fly drift quickly, but my limited experience is that the trout seem to stick near the bottom in the faster runs.  So, unless I see feeding activity on the top, I'll stick with these. 
  • Inbetween Water:  Everything is game

Matching the Hatch:  When in doubt float a caddis?  Or, just blow it off and keep using streamers and nymphs... or ... float a terrestial.  If they are hitting on top, they may hit on a wide variety of bugs.  I don't have a clue on this yet.  My eyesight is not that great since I had a bad cornea transplant in '97, so all these little bugs look alike to me.  As I mature as a FFNG (fly fishing new guy - not the other other one), I'll overcome this.

Flies:  It's easy to buy too many.  Everytime you go to a fly shop, there is a new recommendation that comes in numerous colors or sizes.  Suck it up and buy a few.  Let's keep the fly shops in business or we are all hosed.  That said, I'm going to wait to lose a few more before I go back to the shop.  Need to work thru the existing inventory and see how the different stuff works.  Maybe I'll even learn what most of these guys are called at some point!

 Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

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