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Over the past number of years I have done just about everything you can do to improve a day’s fly fishing. So I have compiled this list of do’s and don’ts of fly fishing that should make for a better trout fishing trip.
- Do not try to cast too far. A common mistake by many is trying to push the line out in great distances. This will make for a lot of tangles and bad casting. Keep it short and neat the trout will usually come to you if you don’t make too many splashes.
- Don’t use too heavy leader line for the flies you are fishing. I have seen guys put on 15lb mono to fish size 12 flies for trout. This is far too heavy much better to go for 4-5 lb line you will catch more fish. Gauge the trout size your after if they are big, 10lb plus then you may need to adjust but there is no need to fish 15lb leader if the average trout size is 2lb.
- Do bring a plastic bag for your catch if killed, there is nothing worse than the dead fish smell in the car on a long journey home. A simple plastic bag can make all the difference. They can also be used to put on your feet if you spring a leak or your head if a downpour threatens to drown you.
- Don’t be fooled into buying an expensive rod if you can’t afford it there are many cheaper rods that will cast just as far as the most expensive and catch as many fish.
Different Fly Lines for different depths!
- Do bring several lines if anything I would spend more money on lines than the rod having a selection of sinkers is more important to be able to get the fly down to the correct depth to the feeding fish.
- Do use waders they can make your day easier. Being able to dodge bushes and shrubs along the water edge will make for a more pleasant experience and help get closer to the fish. You can move around and search for them. Don’t be put off thinking fish will be spooked as I have seen them swim between my legs when fishing quietly.
- Do keep an eye on the weather, before setting off make sure the weather is going to be correct for the trip nothing worse than driving a few hours to find a storm has whipped up and the lake you want to fish is out of bounds.
- Do carry a landing net. Some fisheries have them set along the water edge but missing a personal best because you were scrambling for a net is not good.
Local knowledge is King!
- Do check with the locals before starting to find out what is fishing and how, this can improve your catch.
- Don’t think a bigger rod will cast further, the distance is usually down to timing and the rod set up, make sure everything is matched. I have seen so many anglers struggle with an 11 ft rod when a 9ft would have been perfect.
- Do wear a life vest when fishing from a boat, is easy to put on and can save your life. No need to be a hero.
- Do try different retrieves to entice the fish, don’t be stuck on one. Mix it up. Be creative.
- Do make sure your rod is matched up correctly don’t undersize or oversize the line unless you know what you are doing. This takes years of practices and skill to cast correctly.
Carry spare leaders!
- Do carry spare leader material in different strengths you will tangle and possibly broken so always carry spare.
- Do have a few of each fly it’s so easy to lose or have the one that is making the catches destroyed by sharp trout teeth.
- Don’t stomp about on the bank side or boat you will only spook the fish away to the anglers on the other side.
- Do bring protective clothing and build up in layers. It’s much easier to remove a layer when warm than go looking for something if it’s cold or the wind picks up. A good selection is a base layer, a mid layer a, top layer (in winter) and a waterproof.
- Do have some wader repair solution and anglers glue. Great for fixing any small mishaps with waders and clothing. Wire fences can play havoc with a nice pair of breathable waders. The angling glue can help sort out a damaged fly or leader.
Try not to spook the trout!
- Don’t false cast over a showing fish, you are going to spook it, it’s better to cast to the side to gauge distance before sending in the correct cast.
- Do if you can afford it carry a spare line, reel and rod on a day out. Things happen and stuff gets broke, better to have a spare even in the car to save the day.
- Do regularly check your leader for wind knots and damages. Leaders can become frayed when retrieving through rocky bottoms or when lying on rough ground. If you notice something don’t risk continuing with it, get it changed. You will lose fish if you don’t and that will only be down to you being lazy. Unforgivable!
- Do check your ferrules frequently during the day. Make sure they haven’t become loose and twisted out of alignment. Two things can happen, the tip can fly off during a cast and get damaged or you can hit a large trout that busts your rod at the weak spot because it’s loose. Better to check every now and again especially if roll, spey or snap casting. Simple overhead does not tend to spin the rod pieces but they do still become loose so keep checking.
Keep your tackle in good condition!
- Do look after your gear, that means oiling the reel, cleaning the line and checking the rod for chips and dents. If anything looks suspect take it to the tackle dealer to have it mended or replaced. Small chips can be protected with some epoxy resin or strong varnish. Line chips can be mended with some storm sure glue which is pliable or super glue if stuck which is brittle.
- Do learn how to tie the most common knots. Blood knot, water knot and nail knot, etc. Knowing these and how to build a leader on the bank side can save the day. There will be many running repairs on a typical days fly fishing so it’s essential you learn these from the beginning.
I have added quite a few things here and I know I have left stuff out. Please feel free to add in others below in the comments. Lets be helpful to those new to the sport.