11
Sep
11

Fly Fishing: Retrieves to Entice

As a beginning stillwater fly fisher, you might want to consider a few factors that I frequently access while out on the water. What, where and how? What insects or creatures are apparent or possible in the water? Where are the shoals, drop off’s, structures, cover that might harbor the trout while feeding or resting? And, how will I present my offering to suggest the insect/creature that the fish are likely to feed upon?

The above questions are constant parts of the stillwater puzzle. Now you can enjoy a lazy day (no big winds and waves) of kicking about and trolling a fly with no retrieves beyond that provided by your kicking fins. It is ok to do that, of course, it is your time to enjoy as you will.

But, I would suggest a few alternatives to the trolling/search technique. Whether you troll, anchor up or just drift/kick to stay in an area, pay attention to your retrieves of the fly and think about the actions you are imparting to the fly. What life suggesting movements are you trying to impart to the fly: darting, rising & diving, slowly inching along or hanging vertical from the surface.  

The Figure 8 Retrieve. I often use this with Callibaetis patterns or to slowly entice fish in the shallows. I cup the line in my hand, but unlike many, who keep all the line gathered in their hand, I drop the line to the apron every four or five grabs. A figure eight retrieve will draw the fly 3-5 inches each grab assuming you are not kicking as you retrieve (kicking will add distance and increased movement to the fly). At all times, I am alert to the take. The right hand will tighten, the right hand fingers will tuck the line to the rod handle. The left hand fingers will tighten and strip set, then the right hand will raise the rod to play the fish. (PP)

This does require you to do a little studying on the movements of stillwater food sources. How does a Chironomid emerge; a Caddis rise to the surface or dive to lay her eggs; a Mayfly act beneath the surface or trying to get to the surface; how do Damsels swim just beneath the surface toward shoreline structure; leeches pulse and wiggle in the shallows; how would a predatory Dragon fly nymph act…on an on. Study their movement. Then visualize this as you retrieve the fly line onto your apron: short/fast… long/slow… pull/pause,  wait, pull…figure eight/inching it along…long/fast.

All the combinations of retrieves are to entice a take. The fly has to look like a possible food item and then you have to keep it in the zone and make it look real by the retrieves you use.

Remember that trout are, almost always, horizontal or looking up feeders. Use a line that keeps the fly in the zone longest. Too heavy of a line or too heavy of a fly will take the fly deep and possibly past the feeding fish. 


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