Advice for someone new to the sport?

Cos

New Member
#1
I'm hoping folks on here may be able to give me some advice and/or point out what I may be doing wrong. I've started fly fishing this year, having gone out about a dozen times so far, trying to learn on stocked trout.

The problem...
Despite my best efforts, I'm catching very few fish (and stocked trout should be easy). The vast majority of the time when I get a strike, the fish lets go immediately (under a second), and I never get a chance to set the hook.
I know the fish are there. I see them jumping, and folks on the shore pulling in one fish after another with spoon spinners, all this on freshly stocked lakes.

My equipment...
5 wt 9'6" rod.
Intermediate line with 9' tapered leader
4' tippet using 3.5 lb royal platinum line
Flies - Size 14 wooly buggers of assorted colors (more detail below and photos)
I fish from a float tube, and I typically retrieve the line using sets of 3 short 1" pulls
Snohomish and King County stocked trout lakes

What I've tried so far...
1. Longer tippet. This didn't seem to help with the fly rejection. I get the occasional quick strike, then the fish drops it in less than a second.
2. Smaller fly. You can't really go smaller than size 14 with a wooly bugger, but I made a few with thinner bodies. That seemed to help a bit, but fish are still rejecting the flies.
3. Garlic scent. I considered maybe the flies smelled bad to the fish for some reason or another. So I tried covering them with garlic to mask the scent. If anything, this seems to repel the fish more.

The flies...
I tie my own using a chartreuse yarn (yellow greenish), and chicken feathers. Some with a bead head, others without. The bead head ones seem to perform worse.
I've attached photos of a few. The thinner style on the far right seems to be doing the best out of all three, but nowhere near ideal.

Any suggestions on what may be going on? I've seen fly fishermen far more successful with the stocked trout so it must be possible. I'd really appreciate some help.
 

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Old Man

Just an Old Man
#4
Your flies look rather bushy. Plus don't use any scent. If you were fishing fly only water you could get ticketed from using scent. Maybe you should invest in some store bought flies. They will be a lot thinner than what you tie. Plus there is a learning curve in Fishing

Are you sitting still of trolling and do you have control of your rod at all times. You might just be slow to react to your strikes. After all you are trying to fool the fish into thinking that it is food you are fishing with.
 

Cos

New Member
#8
All great advice, thank you so much Nick, Stone, Jim, and everyone else!
I haven't fished any fly-only waters yet, so the scent was not a concern. Not that it helped anyways - just looking for a way to rule out whether there was a scent on the flies that may be a problem.

I am sitting still, not trolling, and keep the rod in hand at all times with the tip down. Then I start my retrieve slowly almost immediately after the fly hits the water, so the line shouldn't have slack in it, at least not for long.

I will try the following and report back on how it goes:
1. Wooly buggers using a smaller hackle (what about the attached, still too bushy?)
2. Switch to a slow sinking line
3. Pre-sharpen the hook each time
4. Shorter tippet - maybe the long one is resulting in too much slack.
5. Research the strip-strike hookset and try it (this is my first time hearing of it).
 

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Cos

New Member
#10
Old406, missed your earlier post. I'm in Woodinville (border on Snohomish and King counties). I would certainly appreciate the help. I fish both weekends and early mornings during the week, weather permitting.
 
#11
Lots of good advice above, especially tip in the water and sharp hook points. Don't be afraid to speak with any other anglers for experience/advice. The learning curve does flatten out!
 

Old406Kid

Active Member
#12
Old406, missed your earlier post. I'm in Woodinville (border on Snohomish and King counties). I would certainly appreciate the help. I fish both weekends and early mornings during the week, weather permitting.
Old406, missed your earlier post. I'm in Woodinville (border on Snohomish and King counties). I would certainly appreciate the help. I fish both weekends and early mornings during the week, weather permitting.
I'm on the wrong side of the state to help but you seem like a decent guy and I hope someone on your side
raises their hand.
 

IveofIone

Active Member
#13
Most new hooks these days are sharp but they may not be "sticky" sharp. Sticky sharp means that a hook will stick against your fingernail when you touch the point against it. If it is not sticky sharp it will slide right off. Your best friend for a sharp hook is a fine diamond hone. A file is just too crude for small hooks and removes too much material and really doesn't produce a smooth sharp point. I have a set of 3 diamond hones that I bought back in the 80's and have sharpened every hook I have ever tied a fly on for all of those years. A good hone is almost a lifetime investment and carbon steel files are but a subscription.

Barb pressed down completely, not just bent over. Another thing I have done for decades is using the electronic pliers I mash the barb with Is to open the gape of the hook by at least 10%. Most folks don't do that but a lot of hooks have the barb almost facing up towards the shank and I think that causes a lot of misses.

A 13' leader certainly isn't required for stocker fish, for now keep the entire leader length about the same as the rod length and go to a heavier tippet, at least 4x. Rod tip always in the water and learn the slip strike and you'll be in business.

By the way, your flies are overdressed, buy a few well made flies or have someone take mercy on you and give you some. A good black or olive wooly bugger should be enough to get you going for awhile.
 
#14
Just pull some of the extra stuff from your flies with your fingers. Lot of times after several fish chew on a fly, it gets better. You might not tie them shitty looking, but they get buggier looking after a few fish! I’d say shorter leaders too.
 

Old406Kid

Active Member
#15
Most new hooks these days are sharp but they may not be "sticky" sharp. Sticky sharp means that a hook will stick against your fingernail when you touch the point against it. If it is not sticky sharp it will slide right off. Your best friend for a sharp hook is a fine diamond hone. A file is just too crude for small hooks and removes too much material and really doesn't produce a smooth sharp point. I have a set of 3 diamond hones that I bought back in the 80's and have sharpened every hook I have ever tied a fly on for all of those years. A good hone is almost a lifetime investment and carbon steel files are but a subscription.

Barb pressed down completely, not just bent over. Another thing I have done for decades is using the electronic pliers I mash the barb with Is to open the gape of the hook by at least 10%. Most folks don't do that but a lot of hooks have the barb almost facing up towards the shank and I think that causes a lot of misses.
Sure, now you tell me!!!
It's no wonder you're always kicking my butt.;)
 

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