On the Fly: Refusals? Change your presentation

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
A streamer fly is ready to be fished from a boat on one of the local rivers.

If you’ve been fishing the Fryingpan River lately, surely you’ve seen a few refusals from the trout in regard to your fly pattern. When we see the fish refusing naturals, we should take note as anglers and up our game a bit. We would counsel changing your presentation before switching out to another fly pattern in most cases.

If a fish is showing interest, you’re halfway there. The fish is recognizing your offering as food; they just may not like the way it’s being presented to them. Usually the problem is drag on your fly, and this can be easily corrected with an up or downstream mend of the line as the situation dictates. Keeping your line, leader and tippet above (upstream) of the fly usually helps as well. Keep in mind that different bugs hatch out of different water types, so fish those drakes in the rough water and smaller mayflies in the soft stuff.

This especially applies to the fall streamer fishing we’re all anticipating with the change of the seasons. If a trout is following your big fly, you’re on the right track. We all know to carry many colors and sizes of these bigger flies, but most days it is all about the retrieve versus throwing the right fly. There are many ways to strip a streamer through the water — low and slow, high and fast, up, down or across the stream. The possibilities are endless. The main takeaway is to keep playing around with your retrieve until the fish start eating the fly, not just reacting to it.

It’s time to switch the fly if all else fails. Usually, going down in size is the answer — but not always! On rivers like the Fryingpan, the fish certainly become more distrustful of large presentations as summer hatches continue into fall. The moral of the story here is to show those fish your fly in the water type and manner they are accustomed to, especially if you know your hatches. Be safe out there and enjoy the spectacular fall fishing around the corner!

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