How often do you change flies?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Steve Unwin, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Steve Unwin

    Steve Unwin Active Member

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    After a few recent unproductive outings, I found myself wondering how long I should try any particular pattern. I am still very novice so I have been trying to experiment with different patterns to find what works.

    I have not been seeing a lot of insect activity to match, or been getting refusals (that I know of). I just haven't been seeing a lot of fish so I never know if I should be more patient with whatever pattern I happen to be using.
     
  2. Steffan Brown

    Steffan Brown ...

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    What are you fishing for? This time of year you won't be seeing much, if any, insect activity to clue you into a hatch. However, depending on if I'm fishing for steelhead or src, my approach is going to be different in leading me to changing flies. Unless the voices in my head are overwhelming in either situation.
     
  3. Steve Unwin

    Steve Unwin Active Member

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    Mostly it's been trout but looked for steelhead a little and found myself wondering the same thing. Clearly there are many variables to both on when to change and what to put on (a whole different discussion, but I'm happy to experiment), but I am just looking for a sense of when to decide that it's the fly that needs changing and not just a matter of no fish seeing it.
     
  4. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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  5. Steffan Brown

    Steffan Brown ...

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    When you're fishing for trout, are you fishing places where you know fish should be? Are you nymphing or fishing with streamers for trout? Steelhead are a little bit different of an animal for me, but still have the same basic logic applied. If you are fishing water where you know fish should be, start by selecting the fly you have the most confidence in. If you lose confidence in your fly, you will start to focus on whether you have the right fly on, instead of how you are presenting the fly, and therefore you might want to switch to something that makes you regain that confidence and focus on how you are fishing. If you KNOW fish are there and your presentation is solid, and still have no hook ups to show for it, I would consider switching flies at that point.
     
  6. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    Steelhead flies get changed when either 1. I break off and lose it, 2. I change approaches (from swinging a run to beading some pocket water) or 3. I get bored. I do try to stick to 1 and 2 as much as possible and often fish the same fly all day.

    Trout...often more often, as i try to find "the winner" pattern. Once I start hooking fish, I won change until I stop hooking fish.
     
  7. Stew McLeod

    Stew McLeod aka BigMac

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    I think sometimes we all (okay, maybe just me but I doubt it) flog a fly to death because "it worked last week" or "has always worked on this river". That being said, if things aren't hitting I am switching out until I get some hits. If I am fishing a large dry, I will often switch to a smaller version of it or what ever I replace it with (the opposite applies for me too).

    Some ramblings by me.
     
  8. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    if I fish a piece of water I know fish are feeding in I switch it up till I get it right. Usually the first thing I do when fishing is find a piece of water I know fish are feeding in, then stick with what works all day.
     
  9. GAT

    GAT Dumbfounded

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    Hello... my name is GAT and I'm a changeaholic.
     
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  10. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

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    Even on waters that I know, I look around me for insect activity. Don't forget to look up as spinners may be present. I put a fine mesh screen attached to a pair of wooden dowels in the stream and then string my rod. I then check the screen and if there is nothing, I will dislodge a few rocks to see what floats into the net. The above often tells me what insects are active and if none are present, I either match one of the insects in the net or put on a dry fly attractor pattern. After working the water for a few minutes I'll change either the nymph or the attractor and after a few changes, I might go to a streamer.
     
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  11. Krusty

    Krusty Krusty Old Effer

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    Sometimes they're just not feeding, and nothing you do will make a bit of difference. Hang in there, and you'll hit a day that will hook you on flyfishing for the rest of your life.

    Eventually you will have established a small group of dependable patterns. 'Matching the hatch' is ok, but there's considerable research that trout only get 5% to 10% of their food during 'hatches'...they're opportunists...and none too bright.

    The advice above about fishing 'where the fish are' is spot on.

    I always start out with what has been, for me, a rock solid pattern...and fish it in different locations...depths, retrieves, etc. I actually change flies more after I start catching fish....trying different sizes and variations....as well as those flies that I've tied or acquired that I haven't yet had much chance to fish. At least then I know the fish are feeding.

    To me, there's nothing worse than flailing around constantly changing flies. Patience is key; the more time that fly is in play, the better the chances a fish will get interested. It's kind of like bad casts....I see fishermen often recasting for the perfect cast....which they eventually make....but it's over now empty water.
     
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  12. Steve Unwin

    Steve Unwin Active Member

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    I've been struggling to find feeding fish as well, so it compounds the problem. I guess I am thinking of more of searching mode.

    I do like the concept about having confidence in the fly and focusing on presentation. I think that is probably the approach I have been taking. Sometimes a little bit of David Dalan's #3 kicks in and Stew's "worked before" technique too, and sometimes I just tie something on because it looks fun.

    Like most things I am probably over thinking it. On the few occasions where I have known that I was in the fish I was able to try different patterns until I got a bite, but otherwise it seems like I need to stay patient unless I know there are fish that aren't taking my offerings.
     
  13. Steve Unwin

    Steve Unwin Active Member

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    Thanks for that. I hope I didn't give the impression of frustration. I have only been fishing for about 3 months now and only caught enough fish to count on 1 hand, but I enjoy every day I'm out. I also know that trout fishing in WA rivers isn't a big focus and probably less so in the winter...but it is winter and I am not going to wait until spring to fish, even if the odds are stacked against me.

    Thanks for all the tips guys.
     
  14. formerguide

    formerguide Active Member

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    Assuming that the fly you are fishing is something reasonable for the situation, here's my personal feeling and experiences...

    Flats Fishing: 99% presentation, 1% fly selection/tippet
    Steelhead Fishing (swinging): 99% presentation, 1% fly selection/tippet
    Steelhead Fishing (nymphing): 99% presentation, 1% fly selection/tippet
    Trout Dry Fly attractor/searching: 99% presentation, 1% fly selection/tippet
    Trout Nymphing: 99% presentation, 1% fly selection/tippet
    Trout Dry Fly (actively rising fish): 90% presentation, 10% fly selection/tippet

    Point being- as a general rule, presentation trumps all. There are certainly instances where changing up patterns for something different makes sense, particularly over heavily pressured fish. And, in the case of actively rising trout, oftentimes pattern makes a significant difference. But, that's assuming your presentation is solid to begin with, and if it's not, no fly change will matter. You cannot catch a fish while tying on a new pattern, the best anglers I know are fastidious about covering water thoroughly and efficiently, and rarely change patterns unless absolutely nothing is going on, or if another angler is really tearing it up on something totally different.

    But again, I change flies as infrequently as possible, and concentrate on presentation first and foremost. Depth and amount of weight when nymphing is FAR more important than pattern, drag free drifts are FAR more important when casting dries vs pattern. Also, when it does come to fly selection, size is the greatest factor (generally)...

    $.02

    Dan
     
  15. Steffan Brown

    Steffan Brown ...

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    Listen to this guy. He's caught two steelhead and 10 coho in his first 17 days of living in Washington. I think when he talks about presentation, there's black magic involved, but the basic principle of what he says about presentation has been my limited experience as well.
     
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