Back-eddy-on-the-Little-Juniata

Tips & Tactics # 1 – Patience is a Virtue

That was one of my Mother’s favorite sayings and she would say it out loud as one of us would be testing hers.  While it may be a virtue, it is also an effective tactic to be employed when trout fishing.

Here is a situation: You are looking at a seam which would be a good place to find a trout. Perhaps it curves into a back eddy where the debris of the river is collecting and swirling quietly upstream and around. You put your fly on a path to fish the seam and when it enters the slower area you pull it out and recast.

Why not let your fly just sit there for a while? What’s the rush? Do what is necessary with your leader (including making it longer or lifting it off the water) to prevent drag and just watch it. Even after it sinks, which it eventually will, give it a little more time. I think you will be surprised at the outcome.

Here is a snippet from Letters to Mack 3 to illustrate the point. I was on the Little Juniata in the spring time:

Last year I fished it from the other side. I decided to not go across and settled in above the two large back eddies, watching the water for a while.  I dapped a sulfur emerger in the NY tie – that is more yellow than the orange of the local version.  A nice 12 incher took it.  I moved further down to cast in the swirling eddy of foam and mini whirlpools. The drop off is quick so I was perched on the rock edge and cast carefully so as not to topple in. I switched to a sulfur parachute in a 14 and again a yellow body.  Jim decided to switch from his 10 foot nymph rig to a dry fly rod and went to the car. 

As soon as he left a good 15 inch fish took my fly out of the bubbles. When he returned I gave him the particulars – long leader (12 foot), 6x tippet, dead drift, no drag. Patience. Wait until it sinks and then wait some more. Bam.  It is not easy to see the fly among the foam and bubbles but after keying your eyes on them for a few days it is amazing how you adjust and can see it even 50 feet away.  I watched as it drifted back toward me in the reverse flow of the eddy, remembering to take in line without disturbing the fly so I’d be able to strike when he bit – and he did. I had three more good ones on and then the thunder came. We packed it in.

In your pursuit of becoming a competent fly fisher, give it some time – and give yourself some time. Find the patience to stop all the flailing away and just enjoy each cast to its fullest. (BTW – The technique works with nymphs as well)

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For more insights take a look at How to Fly Fish for Trout, The First Book to Read.

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