09/06/12

Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
Hatching:
1.    BWOs (Little and Eastern BWOs)
2.    Little Yellow Quills
3.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
4.    Slate Drakes
5.    Needle Stoneflies
6.    Mahogany Duns

Most available/ Other types of food:
7.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8.    Craneflies
9.    Beetles
10.  Grasshoppers
11.  Ants

Fly Presentation
I'm a little late getting this posted today. We have several new projects underway and it has been
tough for me to stay on top of them and do the normal website posting. I wanted to write some
about fly presentation and today's article will kick it off.

If you want to start an argument about trout fishing with a group of anglers that are present from
both the eastern and western sections of the country, just make a statement that it's best to
present your fly in an upstream direction. If your talking to a group of Smoky Mountain anglers, the
response will something like "we didn't know there was any other way to present a fly.

Before I get off into this subject in depth, there's actually two element involved with this.  One is the
direction in which you approach the trout relative to the stream flow and a completely different
subject is the direction you cast relatively to the current. You can approach trout holding in current
in a downstream direction with the trout facing you looking upstream into the current for food, or
you can approach them in an upstream direction from the rear of the trout looking upstream for
food.

I will never forget an email I received from a Smoky Mountain angler a couple of years ago,
whereas the man referred to what he called a "stupid" angler that messed up his last day and best
day of fishing on a western stream. The "stupid" guy, according to him, was fishing headed in a  
downstream direction and he was fishing headed upstream as he put it, the correct way. If either
guy continued to fish, they would be fishing water just fished by the other angler.

There were some words passed back and forth between the two men and both left upset at the
other one. If that happened in the Smokies, I guess you could say the guy didn't know how to fish
the streams of the Smokies but believe it or not, approaching trout in a downstream direction isn't
an uncommon situation on some western trout streams. The facts are, there are not any hard set
rules about this at all.

The other element involved, meaning the direction you cast, can be done upstream or downstream
irrespective of which direction you are proceeding. Now that I just finished writing that, let me also
write that there is such a thing as a cross stream presentation. The only thing that's common is
irrespective which way you cast, unless it has some type of added means of propulsion, the fly is
going to head in a downstream direction.

Now, at this point, I hope I have everyone totally confused, because I'm trying to eliminate
everyone's preconceived ideas about the direction fly presentations should be made relatively to
the current, but, before I get into that, there's something else that should always be considered in
priority to everything else involved.

When you spot a trout rising, or more often than that,  spot a likely location that may hold fish, the
first and foremost important thing should be to look the situation over and then move to the best
location possible to present the fly. Ideally, you want to try to get as close as you can to the fish, or
likely location a fish may be, without spooking the fish.

The shorter the casting distance, the easier it should be for you to make that perfect presentation.
I don't know anyone who is more accurate at casting long distances than they are short distances.

Getting close to the fish will give you better control over the drift. It will give you a better look at the
current and a better idea of how your fly is going to drift in the current.  The biggest mistake many
anglers make at this point is not giving that any consideration. Many just make the cast and see
what happens without thinking it over. You should always have a good idea of what your fly is likely
to do before you cast.

I don't want to get into different types of presentations just yet, but every time you cast a fly to a
rising trout or a likely holding area of the stream, you should consider the type of presentation. In
most situations, different types of "crooked" presentations are much better than straight line
presentations. Slack line cast, reach cast, curve cast, pile cast and many other "crooked" types of
cast are required in most situations. Many anglers don't use any other type of presentation other
than straight line presentations. If your one of those guys, in my opinion, your still in the first grade
of fly fishing for trout.

Getting close to the fish will also help you to set the hook much easier when you do get a fish to
take the fly. It will make it much easier to see the take.

Making a 70 foot cast and delicately place the fly exactly where you want it is this last thing you
want to try even if your pretty good at doing it. You will greatly increase your odds of success if you
place yourself in the best possible position before you make the cast.  

The challenge of getting into the best position can be compounded by strong currents, deep water,
overhanging trees and many other different types of situations. You want to think everything over
before reacting to that rising fish or trying to cast to the great looking spot. Check the currents.
Would a cast from one direction have less conflicting currents than a cast from another direction?
You should study the currents and select the best position to make the cast such that your line and
leader will have the least amount of drag possible. The more the current affects the drift, the more
need there is for a slack line, crooked presentation to prevent drag. Hopefully, you won't have to
mend you fly line. The only time you should have to mend your fly line is when you don't make a
good presentation. Mends correct errors made in your presentation. The more you have to mend
the line, the more you are likely to spook the fish or foul up the drift of the fly.  

There's many other things involved. Can you wade to where you are headed without going in over
you waders, slipping on moss or stepping into strong currents? Can you approach the fish wading
without spooking it? Would you be better off if you crossed the stream in order to approach the
target from a completely different angle? In each situation you will need to weigh all the options
and select the one that will provide the best presentation. It is easy to get in a hurry and spook the
fish but this is much less likely to occur if you think things over and follow the right game plan
before getting into position and making the cast.

Everybody probably has a favorite casting direction - upstream, downstream, across stream or
something in between these directions relative to the current.  The upstream approach probably
catches more trout than any other, but there are many situations where an upstream approach is
not the best way. If you are going to be successful in a variety of conditions and types of water,
then you need to learn to efficiently utilize all of these positions of approach for your cast. I'll get
into some of these in the forthcoming articles.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh