On the Fly: Becoming a better angler | AspenTimes.com

On the Fly: Becoming a better angler

Scott Spooner
On the Fly

An angler battles the cold and a nice fish on the Fryingpan River.

Transitioning from a beginner to an intermediate angler comes after some on-the-water realizations. Becoming a better angler is much more than casting pretty loops and tying perfect knots. There are a few things that are absolutely necessary to become a more successful angler, regardless of time of year or your experience level.

First, and especially in winter, you've got to have a good drift. Most trout, when not feeding on the surface, are going to be glued to the river bottom this time of year. This means your indicator must be moving at the right speed if you are nymphing deep, and watching the bubbles on the surface will clue you in quickly if your flies are not going with the flow. Try watching the trout versus your indicator once your drift is correct. On the entomology side of things, winter fishing is much more simplified. A basic box with some midges and small egg patterns are practically all you need to be successful. You can leave the kitchen sink at home, at least until spring.

Many beginning anglers are standing where they should be fishing. Stealth is key in winter, and creeping around low on the bank will allow you to get much closer to the fish you are hunting versus stomping out into the middle of the run. This time of year presents the lowest flows you and the fish will encounter, so focus on the right water types as well. No fish wants to be picked off by an osprey or bald eagle, so you will find them deep where there is cover, oxygen and food through the cold months.

You've got to set the hook. Winter nibbles are often quite subtle, so you really need to set the hook every single time your indicator twitches, or any time your intuition tells you something is going on, despite the visual cues (or lack thereof). Speaking of visual cues, try to sight fish as much as you can this time of year. Hunting a nice trout in low and clear water will teach you, if you are willing to learn. This is the time of year to graduate to your next level of fishiness; we hope you get your diploma!

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.