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 Fly Fishing Methods:
Using the Best Strategies
Gene Macri

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© 2017 E. P. Macri Jr.

Fly fishing patterns when there is no hatch involves method fly fishing which most fly anglers have never heard of.  On some streams you never really get big hatches to bring the fish up or to start those wild feeding times that fish suppposedly have. Furthermore, fishing pressure can cause fish not to rise and literally not to feed during a hatch. I should know because I'm an aquatic scientist and I study such things. But most fly anglers seem to have little idea about a plan when they step into a stream.

Fly Fishing


So which fly patterns do you fish? Here are some methods which I have used over the years which believe it or not few fly anglers have heard of-- but they work:

  1. Fish suggestive patterns for the supposed insect hatches for that time of year. This is what some anglers try! It works some of the time.  Why doesn't it work all of the time?  Well on some streams the fly hatches and insect populations are not that great so trout may not key on the supposed pattern, but may just be feeding on a variety of things. Another problem is fishing pressure which causes the trout to go smaller or feed on something novel. Always try a smaller version of the fly pattern that you know is supposedly active. You might be surprised just how many more hits you get!
  2. Fish Droppers: Most fly anglers do not use droppers! They believe it is too much work. Well it is a lot of work and you can do it a number of ways.  You can tie the droppers to the bend of the hook as it is done (often called Czech style nymphing but this was around way before it became popular there); or you can tie the droppers to the leader which gives you more action. With this approach you can cover a lot of water and try a variety of patterns and techniques.
  3. Fish your patterns that you are using upstream, across stream and downstream. Don't leave out any method especially when nothing is really happening stream side.  Fly anglers sometimes get into a rut about fishing one way and ignore the other methods.
  4. Use a streamer to find the fish!  Why more fly anglers do not use this method is really beyond my comprehension. Use a streamer pattern such as Wooly Bugger or Maribou to find where the fish are. The trout will often flash or chase the streamer even if they don't hit it you now have a good idea where there location is. Give them a time to rest and then try your wet fly, nymph or dry fly. 
  5. Try Large Patterns and Then Try Very Small Patterns. This will actually tell you on many days exactly what kind and what sizes of flies the trout will take and it can do it in a relatively short time.
  6. Try Very Dark Colored Patterns and Then Try Very Light Colored Patterns. This will often give you the color range of what patterns due to environmental conditions of lighting and cloud taht will be effective for the next few hours.
  7. Fish from the Bottom Up.  Yes, start deep and move through the levels of the water.  Most fly anglers only think there are three levels: bottom, mid level and top and that's where they are wrong. The first level is right on the bottom of the stream. The second level is right above the bottom of the stream. The third level is the mid level. The fourth level is right under the surface. The fifth level is in the film and the sixth level is on top!

These simple seven methods for fly fishing patterns will give you quick and easy ways to optimize your time and effort on the stream. But I doubt if 1 in 50 fly anglers ever utilize most of these methods in a day when fish aren't rising or working and just chuck fly patterns and selections to chance. Give these methods a try and make them part of your arsenal and over time you will be surprised at how much success you have on days when nothing seems to work.



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