On the Fly: Reading the Signs | AspenTimes.com
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On the Fly: Reading the Signs

When we pay attention on the river, the trout almost always tell us what they want. It sounds simple, but even the best anglers are learning and categorizing behaviors every day of their fishing lives.

Jerry Pazar and client with a nice rainbow trout on the Fryingpan River. Photo courtesy of Taylor Creek Fly Shop

When we pay attention on the river, the trout almost always tell us what they want. It sounds simple, but even the best anglers are learning and categorizing behaviors every day of their fishing lives. Some fish are simply disinterested in feeding and are reaching for the antacids (you would be too if you just ate thirty size ten green drakes) and should be skipped over after brief consideration. Others beg to be casted at immediately, and we all must learn to know the difference and read the signs to realize our fishing potential.

A fish near the bottom that is rising up a few inches as it opens its mouth is telling us it wants the emerging insect currently hatching on the swing or slightly wiggled and raised as you drift your fly by. A pheasant tail or soft hackle usually suffices in these instances. The trout swinging wildly about and eating everything in sight will usually attack anything we offer, but we must also realize the fish unwilling to move more than a few inches will be more selective and sensitive to sloppy casts.

When we only see the backs of trout and not the noses on the surface, they are focused on insects struggling to push through the surface film, and we should adjust to this as well. Greasing our tippet to within a few inches of the fly can allow it to sink slightly below the surface, or we can simply suspend a nymph or emerger six inches or so below a dry fly.



Some fish will tell us exactly when to cast by establishing a rhythm in any part of the water column, especially near the surface. Watch the trout closely for “blinks” or rises, then start counting. You’ll soon notice the happy fish you are hunting is eating every four or forty seconds, and realizing this is usually a breakthrough moment for any angler. Troutspeak doesn’t take long to interpret, if you learn to read the signs.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.


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