1) Many of our rivers have low numbers of trout and are not suited to the beginner angler. Seek out local rivers with moderate numbers of small to average-sized fish and spend time on them to build up your confidence and skill levels.
2) Try using black or dull-coloured dry flies; avoid using brightly coloured or white flies, as trout quickly learn to shy away from bright colours after the water has been fished through a few times. The same is true for nymphs. Keep them dull and naturally coloured, especially when targeting larger browns.
3) Keep your clothing naturally coloured. In particular, avoid white hats and brightly coloured clothing. Also avoid using your hands to point out a trout, as the sudden white flash of your hands can scare them (for this reason I wear dull-green fingerless gloves). Keep all movements to an absolute minimum when streamside.
4) Often the most unnecessary movement occurs when people reach towards the leader to pull the end of the fly line through the rings. This action often scares trout, especially on smaller streams. Rather than a loop-to-loop connection, use a slim-lined knot connection that allows the leader to be cast through the rings of the rod.
5) Make a point of placing a collar of soft-hackle on your flies. This feather will move naturally in the water, imitating the legs and wing cases of emerging insects, and is often the trigger that causes trout to take the fly.
6) It pays to cover the water when blind fishing on rivers and not spend too long in one spot. Often the first few casts give you the best chances of catching a trout. After the initial casts the trout become spooked and are less likely to take, so move on to ‘fresh’ water.
7) Foam lines are good markers for the feeding lanes that trout utilise in the river, so concentrate on these locations to spot trout and fish your flies blind. Often crippled emergers and other insects, such as willow grubs, will be concentrated in the foam lines.
8) When nymphing, many anglers miss fish through not striking quickly enough. When it comes to nymphing I like to say, “…to hesitate, is to be too late”. With practice you will almost strike on instinct. You don’t have much to lose by being ‘trigger happy,’ compared to the fish you will certainly miss through a delayed-strike response.
9) Don’t rely on your indicator to register when a trout has taken your nymph. Often trout will swim downstream with the drifting nymph, so the indicator will not move when the trout takes. If you see the trout’s white mouth flash, or a sudden turn, strike.
10) Don’t be hesitant about changing the depths of your nymphs. Often it pays to set the nymphs to drift just above the bottom. An added advantage of constantly retying your line is that the knots stay fresh. It is important to re-tie your bead-head nymph on after each fish, as often the knot becomes worn, either through contact with the stones or the trout’s mouth.
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