Denying the take

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Denying the take

Postby William Anderson » Mon May 02, 2016 4:37 pm

I took a buddy out on the breeches Sunday for one of his first outings. Total beginner and thrilled to be on his way to becoming a fine fly fisherman. Sunday saw little to no big activity and a solid drizzle during the short morning hours we could get to the water so to my delight he's all to eager to learn to fish soft hackles with no risers to speak of. And it worked out. We did fine, but my highlight was a hole I knew would hold the biggest fish in the section and sure enough as I watched I could make out a broad yellow belly turn over every few minutes and breaking the surface once. Not wanting to miss a sure thing I changed flies, putting away a couple experiments and tying on a pair of flies I had even catching fish on from the start. With high expectations I drifted my duo through his territory a number of times with no takes and changed positions several times for a change in presentation approach. Nothing.

Finally I moved back up to where I though would be the most natural drift resulting in a escaping caddis rise right over his nose. After a couple drifts with no response I tried something I don't do often which was to put the fly over him, allowing it to slip just behind him and then strip in short, aggressive strips back upstream like a crack addled caddis, denying him the chance to take it without an aggressive response on his part chasing it upstream to get it. It worked and I hook and played one of the nicest Browns I've ever caught on the beeches, in my effort to get my buddies attention I took my eye off him. He charged toward me, leaving me trying to get slack line in and get tension on him. My haste and clumsiness put my rod tip in a limb above me and I lost him. It was a fun take though.

I often will maintain a smooth swing, sometimes staggered by allowing additional line into the length of the swing and adding some subtle action with a small figure eight retrieve either during or after following the flies with the rod tip, but I don't recall using a full on aggressive streamer tactic with little soft-hackles.
"A man should not try to eliminate his complexes, but rather come into accord with them. They are ultimately what directs his conduct in the world." Sigmund Freud.
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Re: Denying the take

Postby hankaye » Mon May 02, 2016 9:23 pm

dub-ya, Howdy;

Mr.B Trout probably hadn't seen you improvised antics either and investigated ... with the results
you found. He might even have uttered the Trout equivalent to "Oh Crap!!!" only like we would say it
with a gum full of nova-cane and under water. Sometimes the tried and true isn't what is needed ...

hank
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Re: Denying the take

Postby Tom Smithwick » Tue May 03, 2016 8:37 am

Hi William - There is just no telling what a fish will go for sometimes. I think most of us must have had the experience of hooking a fish on a two fly cast. While you are playing the fish, the other fly dances wildly around him like no natural insect ever could. But you will often see one or more other fish trying hard to get to it, and sometimes they do. I quit fishing multiple flies for a long time because it was such a pain to release two fish at once. I suppose it happens more with hatchery fish, but I can't prove that.
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Re: Denying the take

Postby letumgo » Tue May 03, 2016 12:01 pm

I've hooked a number of fish when the drift has been completed and I start to lift the fly for a backcast. It surprises me when it occurs, but it has happened several times a season. For this reason, I have made changing up my retrieve rate, a part of my normal bag of tricks. When fishing is slow with a standard presentation, it some times helps to speed things up. A faster retrieve will sometimes induce a fish to impulsively strick a fly. The fish needs to make a split second decision, which can work to the anglers advantage.

Smallmouth bass are very cat-like in their behavior. They can sit watching a slowly moving fly, with interest, but no strikes. However, when a fly is pulled away, the bass will pounce on a fly very quickly. Sight fishing can provide valuable clues in how fish are reacting to your retrieve.

Excellent post, William. I love reading about how you fooled this trout. Next time remember to keep your tip out of the trees. That's one of my bad habits you don't want to emulate... :oops: :D :lol:
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Re: Denying the take

Postby William Anderson » Wed May 04, 2016 11:25 am

Thanks for the comments, fellas.

Tom, it's funny that about 20' upstream of this same location I've had doubles. I've watched Eric land doubles from this stretch as well, very likely stocked fish, but it happens with wild trout as well. That's one of the things that leaves me second guessing everything I know about presentation. What could possibly be triggered by the unnatural and erratic action of the second fly, and within 18" of a cousin who is obviously in some distress? I've never landed a double with fish of any real size, that could be a factor, although I've seen it happen. I can't explain it. Bugs can be erratic and trout can lose all sense of self preservation at times. It just seems unsportsmanlike when they don't play by the rules we've tried to impose on them. :roll:

Ray, I almost always use some form of teasing retrieve, like you describe. As for the trees. I seem to have developed a very intimate connection with all species of streamside vegetation this season. I need to either get a handle on my concentration, or head to NZ where Tim and Jeff are shooting line with an infinite amount of room for a back cast. I love seeing those stretches of water and I think the same thing every time, look at the open space up against that pristine water full of browns the size of steelhead. Very jealous.
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Re: Denying the take

Postby Tom Smithwick » Thu May 05, 2016 2:56 pm

There is an interesting discussion of fishing the wet fly with active twitches in Ray Ovington's 1974 book "How to take Trout on Wet Flies and Nymphs". One of the techniques is identical to a common Tenkara technique, in which the angler dead drifts the fly down the center of a current for as long as possible, then lowers the rod tip and rapidly twitches the fly sideways into the shallows. I doubt that I had read the section for 40 years, and what struck me on this reading was that he thought the active techniques worked better is slow water, where the fish got a better look at the crazy acting fly. I'll have to try that more often.
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Re: Denying the take

Postby William Anderson » Thu May 05, 2016 3:29 pm

Tom, I love that book. He's a very relatable writer and I like how very specific he can be in his technical instructions. I think I do what you're describing pretty often, but it more of a shifty figure-eighthing of the line in my line hand (as Davy Wotton does during his swing) while moving my rod tip further away from the end of the swing. It's funny how we fall into repetitive actions without giving them much thought until we try to describe them. I'll definitely go look at that section again. It's been a couple years since I've read him. Now I'll be curious to notice what seems to be happening in slower water.
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Re: Denying the take

Postby hankaye » Thu May 05, 2016 5:47 pm

Howdy All;

One of the 'things' about day-to-day life that causes me to ponder my navel is ... things like timing ...
what if, perhaps dub-ya had arrived at the same pool on the same day just 5 minutes one way or the
other of his actual arrival ... would that fish had taken the fly on his first presentation(?), second, or
even with the extra movement imparted to the cast that was taken ??? Serendipity, kismet, yin-yang ...
Any thoughts ???

hank ( ommmmmmmmmm ;) )
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Re: Denying the take

Postby William Anderson » Thu May 05, 2016 6:58 pm

Hank, it's just this kind of thing that keeps is coming back. One of the things that all the new apps and global connectivity can't solve.
"A man should not try to eliminate his complexes, but rather come into accord with them. They are ultimately what directs his conduct in the world." Sigmund Freud.
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Re: Denying the take

Postby WiFlyfisher » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:18 pm

William excellent.

I try to always remember that we don't know what a trout really sees or thinks. But I do believe "movement" means life and that could mean "food" to the trout. They are opportunistic feeders especially when there is no hatch to speak of, and dead stuff (ie: debris in the water) doesn't move upstream on its own.

You will never know for certain why that technique worked but I bet you do it again sometime and hook another trout.
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