I believe all fish are smart. If they weren’t, they’d be dead. With that being said, I think a fish being educated is different than a fish being smart. An educated fish (or trout for the sake of this article) is one that deals with a lot of angling pressure. As the popularity of fly fishing continues to grow so does the IQ of the fish we are chasing. These fish may only have a brain the size of a pea but they use all of it. As educated as they are, they can still be caught if you are willing to make adjustment. 90% of these pressured trout are landed by 10% of the people. Want to be apart of this group? Here are 5 tips to help.
- Down size everything. From your flies to your tippet, you have to go smaller. For pressured fish I will go as small as 5X and flies down to #24. Fish that see flies everyday won’t take a large Chubby on 3X.
- Fish with your eyes. Most people make a mistake when they step into the river. They don’t look first and could of already spooked a fish off the bank. In rivers that receive a lot of pressure, large fish will leave the good looking pools that get fished everyday and move into smaller pockets and less obvious holding runs. Some of the biggest fish that I have caught on pressured rivers are in spots that most anglers walk right past. The biggest fish I catch I usually spot first and then slowly make casts and minor adjustments until I hook or scare them.
- Yarn Indicators. On pressured fisheries I am a big fan of using yarn indicators as opposed to an airlock type indicator like a “thingamobober”. The yarn may be more difficult to cast but it lands very softly on the water. Bubble style indicators are easy to attach and float like a boat but they are not as subtle as yarn. They splash when they land on the water which can spook pressured fish. They also are more sensitive to the delicate takes.
- Have a good net man. Teamwork really does make the dream work. Fish that have been hooked before often are very good at escaping. I am convinced many of these fish have a game plan of what to do before they are even hooked. They will cleverly wrap you around rocks or take off downstream. A good net man can play goalie to stop the fish from breaking you off on a snag. A good net man here will try and stay downstream of the fish and will wait until the right moment to take his shot, he will never chase the fish with the net.
- Be mindful of your shadows. The large trout in these rivers are kings of their underwater domain. Their predators (people and birds) come from above. A shadow going over a fish is a great way to quickly put him down. When casting at a specific fish, stay low and be aware of your shadow.
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