Now you see it, now you don’t. Whether you are utilizing a dry fly, emerger, nymph, two fly tandem, swinging a streamer or following the bouncing corkie or strike indicator, you are missing fish. On a stream or river you may not even know this. On a lake you usually will, unless your dry fly is riding the peaks and valleys of rolling waves and is briefly out of sight. I have no solid solution to this beyond once you put the fly on the water, pay attention, don’t ogle the sunbathing beauties passing by on the rafts (ok, go ahead), or watch the cruising eagle above or daydream about all manner of unrelated thoughts distracting your attention. Because most of us are not fortunate enough to have a guide at our shoulder fine tuning our set or strike, we must do this ourselves based upon visuals and feel.
Pick the right strike indicator for the lighting conditions and that is aerodynamic enough to cast, lob or roll cast into the target drift and fish zone. Fine tune the distance between the strike indicator and fly. This reaction to currents, imparted movements and the interruption of the fish is not perfect. We usually cast too far, allow drag on the line, distract ourselves, and second guess our senses…after 20 fruitless strikes the intensity dwindles unless your timing is intuitively perfect and fish after fish comes to hand. There are days like that.
I find that on a multiple day outting, I often adjust the first day and often discard it as a feeling things out. What if you only have the one day or three hours on an afternoon…you know the one where you left work early be you so fortunate. Then optimize the rig, shorten the cast and focus.
Czech nymphing has been so popular because the heavy fly, short cast and dredging technique lends itself to a hookup by sheer current force alone. Proper placement, short casts, line control and a large, weighted pupa pattern reduce time to day dream or second guess the take. Czech Nymphing is labor intensive for you bird watchers.
Traditionally, you see the rise near the surface with a dry or emerger and ‘jerk’ up and back. A problem with this technique is there is a delay caused by the distance traveled to the rear. This rearward set is even more pronounced if you are fishing subsurface with a nymph or streamer. I have noticed, especially with slow-medium action rods, that as you jerk set upward the line often does not move because the rod is caused to arch downward because of the upward force, loading in essence. Once the rod rebounds toward straight or even beyond straight, toward the rear, the line begins to move. This is not as slow motion as I describe it but those split seconds delay the movement of the fy and the hook set.
Yes, many fish hook themselves and it is all moot. But, many fish, I suspect, tweaked your offering and your were barely aware or oblivious. I have come to use a slip strike method. I use it for many offerings and it works standing or sitting on a pontoon boat and to a lesser degree wedged into a float tube. The right hander let say holds the retrieving hand (left) with line in hand somewhat close to the right hand holding the rod. As the fish is sensed or seen, the left hand, while holding the fly line, pulls or strips or retrieves line to the rear while gently raising the right rod hand to create additional tension. The left hand pulling should set the hook and the right hand is raised to increase the tension and add a pop to the set. If the fish runs toward you, the rod is raised higher and line is stripped and stripped to reconnect to the fish and as it runs away the rod is lowered and if need be line is allowed to slip out through the left hand. The size of the fish determines whether you continue to strip line in with the left hand or allow the line to go to the reel and play the fish off the reel.
Now all this is of no consequence if you are like me and the trout keep rising up and smacking my corkie or thingamabobber strike indicators. Hmm?