Unlike river fishing where you are reading the current and types of substrate most of the lake habitat is out of sight. Get a good sounder. Drive around and scout things out looking for edges, drops, and of course fish. When you find something you like start fishing. Keep doing that till you land on a fishy spot. Repeat when it dies down.
Or you can do what many/most do. Let someone else find the fish and just drop anchor nearby.
When there are hatches, I find it best to fish emergers just below the surface. Why? The fish are looking up and it is much easier to fish something where the 'bug' is around more than a couple of seconds when it takes off... Just need to find the correct size and color of the 'bug' - easier said and done...
I am sure it is a basic tip and Dave mentioned this earlier but the advice that helped me the most was fishing the bends of a lake. The topography around these areas has the most change and offer attractive structures. My chances at fish went up when I focused these areas on lowland lakes. Mileage may vary of course.
This is good. Also, look for "corners" of the lake. It's hard in big lakes, but smaller lakes will often have a "corner" where trout like to consistently cruise. Planters are really prone to circle a lake so if you setup in a corner where lots of fish are passing by it should help your success no matter your method. And unlike a stream where a fighting fish might put down the other fish, it can almost be the opposite in lakes. If you catch a fish, mark where it is. If you're anchored, stay there to see if there are more. If you're trolling or kicking, be sure to pass back by that spot again. Sure, there are the randos that you might catch somewhere, but typically, where you catch one fish, you'll catch more fish.
I consider myself a decent fly angler on a river. Note: DECENT fly angler. I'm not Joe Humphreys. Most of us aren't. But I fish often and have a good time. Occasionally, I like to take the float tube out and hike into a lake to fish. Its generally quiet and peaceful and I enjoy that part immensely. The problem is that my success levels are really hot or cold--a wild rollercoaster ride of experiences on lakes. I just don't really have a clue on how to read the water on a lake--epsecially when its very calm and still.
There have been days when I've caught 30 brookies on an alpine lake. Or get into some decent brown on chironomids on Pass. Then there are days (like yesterday, at Alice) where I see trout rising but I get skunked. Or a lake I hit more than once last summer that I've seen large cutthroat rising and have never hooked up with a fish. Or the last time I was at Lone and left sad. (These are all well known lakes and I don't think this is hot spotting at all, apologies if you disagree.)
I generally know what flies to be using. I know how to present. I know to use long, light leaders. But we all know that doesn't solve everything. Help me out! What should I be reading? What videos should I be watching? What techniques do I hone? What do I need to learn to be more successful on the average WA lake for trout? Why does it feel so hit/miss, even with stocked lakes like Rattlesnake or Alice? I'd appreciate any insight you have.