Flyfishing is complex and technical, no doubt, but these easy tips will make your time on the water more enjoyable and more productive.
Buggy, foam-bodied dry flies can be deadly, especially during hopper time or when used to suspend a dropper. Keep foam-bodied flies floating high by greasing them with a paste line dressing—but in a pinch, chapstick will do the job admirably.
Wyoming guide Clark Smyth always fishes with a telescoping magnet in his bag in case flies get dropped in grass or shallow water. A sweep of the area with the magnet will make even the most hard-to-find flies come out of hiding.
Small-stream fishermen shouldn’t leave home without a pair of anvil pruners. Available at any local hardware store, these pruners can easily remove and save both flies and leaders tangled in riverside brush.
Both time and leader material can be saved when transitioning from heavy to light tippet by incorporating a #10 barrel swivel onto a weighted nymph rig. Run the end of the leader through one end of the swivel and secure it with a clinch knot. Then run tippet through the opposite (terminal) end of the swivel. The swivel will eliminate twists in the leader and will weigh down the rig much like a single BB shot would.
Stripping guides on fly rods are often lined with a carbide ring to reduce friction on the fly line. When transporting a rigged rod, never hook a fly directly onto this ring, but instead secure it to the foot of the guide. A hook stored in the ring can chip the carbide, resulting in reduced performance and rapid wear on expensive fly line.
Many nymph fishermen rely on bobber-like strike indicators, such as the Thingamabobber. Because these indicators ride on top of the water, it can be challenging to see where flies are oriented beneath them. When fishing an indicator, use a permanent marker to draw an index line across the bobber perpendicular with the leader. The line will rise vertically when the fly is directly beneath the indicator, and it will tilt either upstream or down as the fly gets ahead of or behind the indicator. You can then mend to keep nymphs where desired.
International fly guide Matt Breuer never leaves home without a set of Sharpies in various colors. That way, if need be, he can quickly change the color of fly bodies or wings while on the water.
Fly tiers use different weights in their nymph and streamer patterns. Differentiate a pattern as un-weighted, moderately-weighted, or heavy by tying different color thread on the head of each fly. The thread won’t spook fish, and it will let you quickly select the appropriate pattern from your fly box. Make sure your color code is consistent across all of the weighted patterns in your box, though.
Streams and rivers typically suffer from periodic grassy spells, during which aquatic blooms can quickly gunk up streamers. In such conditions, tie a leader for your streamer with blood knots every foot or so. By leaving one-inch tags on the blood knots, the perpendicular tags will clear a path ahead of the advancing streamer, letting it swim without getting covered in grass.
Nymphs—caddis patterns, in particular—will develop gas bubbles under their shuck prior to emergence. Photographer and fly tier Brian Grossenbacher mimics this effect by coating his nymphs with floatant. Spray types, such as MegaFloat, are best at trapping air, but gel floatants work well, too.
Increase your casting distance by stretching out your fly line before heading to the stream. Line stored in tight coils on a reel for extended periods will retain the ‘memory’ of that shape. Before fishing, spool line off the reel and stretch it out either between your hands or by passing it around a fixed object. Stretching the line will remove its memory and allow it to shoot farther with greater ease.
Fly-rod sections can get stuck together and become difficult to pull apart. If you have trouble breaking down a rod, first dry your hands and the rod shaft; often, the problem is an angler’s inability to get an adequate grip on the rod, not a stuck ferrule (a connection joint). If that doesn’t help, try to warm the stuck ferrule between your hands. If that too fails, place the rod behind your knees with the stuck ferrule centered, grasp the shaft on either side of the ferrule, and brace your wrists and forearms against your knees. Then push your knees outward, using your leg muscles to leverage the rod sections apart with steady pressure.