Basic tactic question

Okay gang, with a few trips out "there" under my belt, I wanted to see if I could get some solid information for those that have been doing this a bit longer in an effort to really maximize my time out on the water.

My question involves working a particular water feature of a river/creek/stream. I am curious if the preferred way of doing things is to work a particular feature that you know holds fish until you get a hook up (changing flies, methods, etc. while doing so) or to move onto another portion of the river with the assumption that you spooked the residents.

I realize that it more than likely differs in each body of water, and probably feature to feature. But thought I might as well ask to see if anyone has any information. I'm not quite clear what will shut down the feeding of a trout in a pool or other feature beyond throwing rocks in there.

This of course excludes fishing streams that are pint sized, in which case it would be pretty clear that spooking the resident fish is easily possible.



Evan Virnoche

Trout i switch up techniques and match the hatch. Steel i swing first then run through with a turd And a bead.
I'd say its a crap shoot till you figure out what the little buggers want and then if you fish the stretch long enough you get to know the trends. Running and gunning and hitting a whole lot of water will get you some fish no doubt but really getting to know a place over time is the best strategy. Take your time if you have it to learn the water. Its no competition to get the most fish before we kick the bucket.


Alex MacDonald

that's His Lordship, to you.....
If we assume it's trout, then Ive's got the ticket. Time for a cigar and some observation to see what's actually going on, then the attempt to imitate it.

Alex MacDonald

that's His Lordship, to you.....
A further thought on what I just posted: sight fishing is hunting. There's an old First Nations saying; "white man walk lot, see little. Indian walk little, see lot". Never was a thought expressed so perfectly. Slow down, be in no hurry, drop flies into lots of spots that may not look like they hold fish. You'll be surprised!
Ah, yes, trout. Sorry I didn't throw that part in the post.

And I am definitely one to take my time while fishing, with the skiff on the gulf coast, this was downright aggravating to some of my buddies. But I just wanted to be sure I wasn't engaging in a completely fruitless act by staying and working a particular piece of water on a river for an extended period of time.

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Fish spots that don't look good also. You'd be surprised as to what you will find in these spots. The whole river holds fish and they are always moving. So even unlikely spots will hold fish at different times.
Depends on what you're fishing to as well: the 8" taking emergers near the surface, or the 20" beast on the bottom? It's easy to see the shut down of feeding on dries, but impossible in holes/subsurface. You may not have spooked them at all, just used the wrong fly or presented unnaturally. Either way, rest it, and change flies/tactics. I suck at nymphing so it's a question that's been haunting me as well lol. Either, a) my presentation/drift was crap, b) depth was wrong, c) pattern/size was wrong, d) fish aren't hungry, or e) I'm fishing to fishless water. So like you, I like to at least get a bite to scratch a few of those off...


This is where reading the river comes into play. You didn't mention any surface activity so I assume there is no hatch. You can always start with a dry fly if you see any adults flying around that may have hatched earlier in the day or the day before. Or, as I'm apt to do, try a generic attractor dry fly... such as one of the Royal series or perhaps an ant.

If you get no action, switch to subsurface. You can determine what manner of subsurface bugs are about by turning over rocks. Try to imitate the size and color of those bugs.

Then, you can use a subsurface nymph presentation of your choice... indicator, dead drift with a dropper, etc. If a hatch comes off you can always switch to an emerger pattern or a dry.

My rule of thumb is if I see no surface activity, I start with dead drifting nymphs after determining what manner of critter is living under the rocks. So I work from the bottom up.

If fish start rising, I change tactics.

Over the years I've learned that certain parts of the river look fishy and I know there must be trout holding there and I need to figure out what they'll eat.

So, I may spend a goodly amount of time in one section of the river before moving somewhere else.


Mark Steudel
I think with experience you'll figure this out. Like folks have said there's all sorts of things that factor into whether or not fish are bitting:
1. Piece of water
2. Water flows/levels
3. Time of day
4. Temp
5. Hatches/lack of hatches
6. Your technique
7. Weather
8. Etc.

I think if you fish the same piece of water a lot, you'll remember where you caught fish and on what, and you'll start to see some patterns (just enough for it not to work the next time you go out to that spot :p ) which will give you confidence in whether or not you've fished a particular spot well and whether to move on.

I love nymphing and feel most confident nymphing. If a particular spot is really good, I might first fish it dry fly, and then if that doesn't produce rest the water and nymph it. If that doesn't produce, then I move on. I feel confident that I can fish a piece of water well and if I don't get hits then it wasn't meant to be.

If I'm on completely new water, I'll just fish what I feel most confident and not spend too much time in anyone place, until I see something that makes me think I should change up.

Ahhh the beauty of fishing, there's never just one answer ....

Good luck!


Ahhh the beauty of fishing, there's never just one answer ....
Sure there is.... dynamite. :)

Seriously, if it was easy it wouldn't be as much fun. Sometimes, it's damned tough to fool a swimming critter, with the brain the size of a pea, into eating bits of feathers, fluff and fur tied on a sharp piece of metal.

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