Advice for someone new to the sport?

Jerry Metcalf

Surprisingly, you will do better on stocked fish with smaller flies. The tugs are the little guys grabbing the tail of the large fly and not swallowing it whole. Much more sparse #12 and @14 flies with just a little flash do much better. You want something they can eat whole.

And, these fish have never been deeper than 4' at the hatchery. They hang in the top 4-5 feet of water for a couple to 3 weeks.


All the above suggestions are certainly valid. Here's a few more:

I primarily fish lakes and much of the time, it is for planted rainbow. What you have described is not all that rare and can happen from time to time.

Something I always do when fishing lakes is to use two flies when fishing subsurface. Planters are by nature very competitive and if they see one of their buddies attack a pattern they may very well take the other fly and when they do, it is a solid hit.

If you think size is a problem, when using two patterns you can attach one in one size and another in a different size. Same goes for the actual fly. Normally, I'll use two different colors, size or styles of WBs for lakes and if that doesn't work. I'll try changing one of the flies to a softhackle or even a midge emerger.

Give them options. I don't know why for sure but when I use the two fly presentation my hook ratio is much better.

I also vary my retrieve. If I'm getting a wimpy take, I try increasing the speed at which I retrieve the flies. It seems if the fly is moving fast the fish need to hit it harder.

Gary Thompson

dirty dog
Welcome aboard mate
It takes many years to become a master fly fisher.
Being one with your fly, using your minds eye to see/feel the fish and knowing when to strike.
Strip strike, keep your rod tip down until the fish is on, then rod tip up. Sharp hooks, smashing barbs sometime dulls the hook.
When a fish touched your fly is knows it is not real and will spit the fly before you can react, that is normal.
What little I know about planted trout is they are lazy, food has always been easy to get/catch.
Wild fish on the other hand have to fight for their meals and will strike harder.
You are learning, keep it up. You will be learning for the rest of your fly fishing life.


WFF Supporter
A side benefit of opening the hook gap slightly is to stress test the hook. This discovery came about inadvertently when I was opening the gap on some size 6 long shanked hooks that I was tying wooly buggers on. With the slight pressure needed to open the gap, 3 of the first 10 broke! Overall 7 of the 25 in the package broke so I threw the whole lot away. Imagine the disappointment if you hooked a weighty fish and the damned hook broke before you could land it.

Many of us have had hooks bent open on big fish but breaking instead of bending is just not an option.

Jojo, for years I have been tying and fishing Halfbacks on Mustad 3906B hooks. They are 3X strong and 2X long-the perfect hook for Halfbacks. Over the years Mustad has improved these hooks and today they are labeled S82-3906B. The new ones are almost always sticky sharp and seldom require anything more than a couple of light strokes with a fine diamond. The old ones that I still have will not pass the fingernail test at all and aren't worth the effort required to sharpen them. Hooks are much better today than just 20 years ago but with millions being produced a few bad apples are likely to get through. Checking every one before you tie is just good insurance.

And always-always-pinch the barb before you tie. Too many times I have bought flies and had to pinch the barbs on the water and had the hook tip break at the barb. A loss of money and time not appreciated while fishing.


1x hook + 1x unlucky chicken = fish.
I really appreciate all the great advice!
You're right on the hooks, they're not sticky - they're sharp, but not sticking on the nail. I have a diamond hooks sharpener I'll touch them up with. But it's a little coarse, so I'll shop around and get another.
Good comment on the barbs as well, I'll try pressing them down all the way.

I'll trim down the flies and see if that helps as well. I have some store bought olive wooly buggers as well - these in size 12 I didn't get many strikes on them, my guess is that they're too big.


1x hook + 1x unlucky chicken = fish.
While new to fly fishing, I've fished with conventional tackle for a long time, IveOfIone is right on the hook gaps. The reason they come pointed toward the shank/hook eye is to reduce wear on the tip when the hook gets dragged on the bottom, and less likely to snag. But also less likely to hook the fish.
I always open them up so the point is parallel to the shank. And I've also had quite a few hooks just snap on me when doing that - likely a defect with the carbon they add to harden the steel.

I usually don't bother with the barbs themselves though (since I don't fish selective gear water anyways). But from the comments it sound like the barb does more harm by getting in the way of the hookset.


Certified Curmudgeon - GET OFF MY LAWN!
To keep your rod tip down, learn to put the tip of the rod under the water.
Fish like protection from predators and will tend to hang out where the bottom has lots of weeds. You won't find many where the bottom is flat sand. Insects usually are more plentiful where there are weeds and the trout will be in that area.
If you are constantly missing the hookset, you might be pulling the fly out of the fish's mouth. Experiment with keeping your fingers off of the flyline and let the fish hook itself.


The Tug Is The Drug
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.

HI Cos,

Lots of great advice on here.

Get yourself a sinking line or two if you can. Type 5 and Type 6. Its money in the bank and you can use them on the rivers. Also, some 2x and 3x leader.

I would like to suggest buying Tim Lockhart's 2 books on fishing lakes. Tim has fished with many folks on this forum and I have been fortunate to have been one of them learning as much as possible.

On that note, I would be happy to give back and pass along some of the things that I have learned and help shorten the learning curve with some basics if you like.

Shoot me a PM and I will let you know when I go out again.

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