How long do you fish before changing flies?

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by sizematters, Sep 24, 2013.

  1. I am curious about how long folks fish subsurface without getting a hit before changing to a different fly. Assuming no surface activity, I usually start fishing with a wooly bugger. If I don't get a hit within about 15 minutes I find that I start rummaging in my fly box for an alternate fly. Is that time frame about right for you?
  2. Whether stripping a streamer, or something under an indicator, I'll change depth, and/or retrieve often before changing flies. But then, I',m lazy that way.
  3. I posted a similar question a while back, it might help:

    The main thing I took away was to change flies when you lose confidence in the fly you've got. If you aren't confident then your presentation will suffer.

    I'm not sure it's led me to catching more fish, but it has made me a happier fisherman. If I find myself carelessly presenting my fly, I know it's time to change. Like, I'm just going thru the motions because I'm not actually expecting a strike.
  4. The only time I carry a watch is when I fish....15 minutes. Then something changes. Usually the fly, but sometimes the fly line.
  5. I like the 15 minute part but I never change the fly. Instead I play with location and depth along with looking for clues and trying to guess their most likely whereabouts. Then, bigger picture, what I'm really trying to do is determine the timing of activity (when the bite will come on and go off).
  6. It's time to change when your buddy has caught at least three fish in row and you haven't hooked up :)

    I like the Rickards rule: don't change the fly until you are sure that fish have seen and refused it. The first thing I change is location. Keep moving until the "spidey senses" (Ira-ism) are tingling and then give the spot a shot to produce. If you see fish working and they aren't taking your bug, it is probably time to change.
    Krusty and Irafly like this.
  7. I reckon that I adhere to the "fish have seen it, but aren't taking" approach. Then I change something . . . fly, tippet, presentation, or location. "dialing it in" is part of the challenge & fun.
  8. You guys are using flies too?

    So that is what I have been doing wrong......
  9. Sometimes it's just the size of your tippet for an example a friend and i was fishing the same fly,same type line, except he was using 4lb flouro I had on 8lb the fish was jumping on his fly mine nothing until I switch to 4lb same happen chironomid fishing using 4x he 6x now I fish with 6x all the time catch rate went up
    Steve Kokita likes this.
  10. Have you beat him yet dbfly?? :eek:
  11. I usually start out with a proven fly and stick with it for way more than 15 min. I want to feel confident that some fish have gotten a look and refused before I change. At least 30 min.
    Krusty likes this.
  12. Listen to Tim and Troutpocket (Spidey-Senses, hell yah) time specifically is not important it is so many other factors that matter so much more.
    Krusty likes this.
  13. Usually don't change until I'm through my first six-pack of brew. By then I don't give a shit if they're hittin or not.

    I almost always start with an Olive Willy if I don't see surface activity, and a dry Renegade variant when I see feeding rings. Very rare that I don't get some strikes...frequency varies, but if they're not hittin those flies it usually doesn't matter what fly I tie on...they're probably just not feeding. Then it's time to start on the second six-pack.
    KevinLS and triploidjunkie like this.
  14. Yet I have out skunked him a few times Steve:D
    Steve Kokita likes this.
  15. I generally look for a depth where the fish are and a retrieve that works. Then look at the flies. Often will try a two fly rig and only will change one at a time, keeping on one I have a lot of faith in. Since I tend to fish my local waters a lot, I have go to places and flies that evolve over time and in response to temperature, hatches and other factors. Learning a few lakes well really pays off.
    Olive bugger likes this.
  16. Apparently he has changed his mind. In his seminar last year he said to change after 30 minutes. Right after he told us that none of us knew anything about stillwater fishing and if we ever caught a fish is was just by luck and in spite of everything we were doing wrong. (sorry for the rant)
 likes this.
  17. on average 30 minutes, but I am always moving around, shoreline, deeper water, depends on the time of day. If absolutely no strikes in an hour I change lines. Sometimes I use the same pattern but different color, bead or no bead. If I really get frustrated I will even put on a streamer.
  18. This is one of the many things I really enjoy about the fly fishing community - there is a wide spectrum of advice from which to choose. I do appreciate all the suggestions offered on this thread. I guess the best approach is to synthesize the all recommendations into one overall plan of action: 1. Don't make any changes until you have finished your first six pack (or equivalent). 2. By the time you have finished your first six pack your spidey sense (or bladder) should be tingling. 3) If your motor skills allow it change to a smaller tippet - particularly if your fishing buddy has caught at least three to your zero. 4. Depending on your point of view, either embrace Mr. Rickard's view that those of us who fish stillwater don't know squat and catch a few fish only due to dumb luck or embrace his view that the key to stillwater fishing is to fish the shallows with streamers of his design. 5. If you still aren't catching anything after following steps 1 through 4, just say to Hell with it and start on your second six pack.
    I will take your recommendations to heart. Thanks. Sizematters
    KevinLS, jcboyd, chief and 3 others like this.
  19. Please also consider growler or a flask versus a six pack. Granted the flask is much better for hike in adventures.
    triploidjunkie likes this.
  20. I usually try to fish (lake fishing) the same fly for as long as it lasts, as long as the fly is drawing strikes. I just assume that it should work if I get it in front of a trout. (Usually one of my Halloween buggers, a Sixpack, or a Dragon nymph, if I'm fishing sub-surface). This has only failed me a couple of times, when I just could not get a hit. Then I was forced to switch up. Still didn't get hits on those days. I blamed it on the atmospheric pressure, or something.

    I will break a fly off and re-tie it if I see that my tippet has a nick or is getting frayed. I'll periodically inspect and sharpen the hook point, too. I fished the same "Failure Lake Special" about 8 or 10 trips in a row one year. Fooled over a hundred stocker 'bows and several native cutts before it got chewed down to a non-descript skinny scraggly nymph, which might have caused me to lose confidence in it and finally switch up, except that the lakes were warming up and it was time to switch over to searun cutthroat fishing mode in the tidal creeks here. So my local lake fishing time ran out before I was forced into action. I think I must have used only that one fly for all my lake fishing that Spring.

    I have used one streamer for an entire Summer and Fall when trolling for searun cutts paddling in the estuaries and tidal flux here, too. It just worked too well to want to change to anything else. It finally got chewed down the following year, but continued to draw strikes, and eventually the hook rusted and broke at the bend and I was forced to retire it. (Of course, I also had a couple of other rigged rods with a floating line for dries (possibly with a # 12 Montana Bucktail already tied on), and another with a clear-intermediate sinktip and a Reversed Spider.

    The joys and advantages of being a simpleton are not to be under-rated!

    I will try to match the hatch if I see surface activity, though.
    triploidjunkie and bakerite like this.

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