On The Fly: Want to catch them all? Try these tricks of the trade

Scott Spooner
On the Fly
Amanda Sabin and a nice Fryingpan River cuttbow trout.
Photo courtesy of Robert Sabin

Ever noticed how it can be relatively easy to catch a fish or two in a pool teeming with trout, but catching them all can be tough? We’ve all watched that angler that hasn’t moved in hours and is still hooking fish. This skill separates the novices from the experts, and there are a few tricks you can utilize to get to that next level of fishiness.

The usual “problem” is that most anglers allow that first fish to spook the rest — either by overplaying it, being too noisy, or not minding their shadow over the water. Fly fishing is a patience game, and stealth is required. The first tip I can offer is to try and catch a few out of the back of the pool, rather than throwing your flies too far upstream. This allows you to catch a few initially with the other upstream fish being none the wiser.

You have to be methodical. After you catch that first fish or two, chill out for a minute. Check your flies and tippet, hydrate, or take in your surroundings. Many pools full of fish will begin to forget about you (the pesky angler) after a few minutes. Now we should start to fish the first foot of water off the bank, then two feet out, three, and so on. I try to look at the river like a grid and make sure I drift my flies through each imaginary line, so every fish has an opportunity to make a bad decision.

Once a fish is hooked, move it downstream from the others if possible. Use the heaviest tippet you can, and steer them away from the fish you want to catch later on. This will keep them calm and less wary of your next cast. Another thing to closely watch is feeding behaviors, because the fly that worked an hour ago may not be what they crave once the hatch gets rolling. If you’re patient, sneaky, methodical, and use your powers of observation, you may just impress yourself with your fishing prowess!

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or

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