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Artist
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Ok, now I consider myself to be an above average to good trout fisherman. So when I go to leech lake and I see some guy catching fish one after another, and im not it drives me crazy. Im not talking about the little brookies, im talking about 18-20" trips every 2 minutes. I allways do well using leeches, damsels, callibaetis, and caddis but its nothing like I see fome some of the other guys out there.
Everytime I see people doing really well they are using an indicator with something small under it. Im not a big chironomid guy and maybe thats my problem. I hate asking people how to fish or what they are using, but I just cant take it. Im straight up asking someone to fill me in one the technique at Leech.
 

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Remember when you could remember everything?
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Not sure about Leech Lake specifically, but I'm kinda with you on the whole bobber-staring thang. Yes, I know it works, and yes, I know some guys can really catch a lot fish doing it. But the simple fact is, I don't think there's much in common between traditional cast-and-strip flyfishing and chiroromid fishing.

That said, there's been several times when (like in Rome) I've joined the bobber boys, I've caught a bunch of fish too - fish I probably wouldn't have caught otherwise.

From what little I know about the 'science' of chironomid fishing, the keys are (in order), location, depth and pattern. In a nutshell, if you see another guy knocking 'em dead with chironomids, set up nearby, watch his setup to get the depth right, cast out and the fish at that level will simply swim around with their mouths open, vacuuming up whatever happens to be in their path, including what you're presenting. If you're getting takedowns but no hookups, you need to try different patterns that might look more like what the fish are keying on.

Sure, there's nuances to the technique, but if you get those three right, the rest is academic.

My 3¢ worth.

K
 

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Chironomid fishing can be a tricky, albeit productive way to fish. The three basic keys as Kent said are location, depth/level and pattern (color, size, etc.) with a host of other variables thrown in for good measure that can be the subtle intangibles which, on certain days, can be a huge factor in one's success. Kent's advice is spot on about paying attention to what the guy have the most success is doing. I'll add its good to "watch his hands" and see what type of retrieve/movement he's imparting to his flies. The importance of motion/movement is not limited to patterns that imitate baitfish, leeches, etc. but other food sources as well, including chironomids. Dead still can be the best "retrieve" on certain days, while on others imparting a little "life" to the fly can be a key to success. That being said, just this past spring I was out with a good buddy of mine on a lake, we were anchored right next to each other fishing chiro's under an indicator at the same depth using the same patterns. My flies were no more than 10-20 ft away from where he was fishing and he was crushing them and I maybe had a fish or two. I am sure there was some "reason" for my lack of success relative to his that day, but I sure could not figure it out. Humbling for sure, but always an opportunity to learn and get better. Experience is the greatest teacher. Good luck.
 

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The craziest action I've ever had flyfishing is cronnie and bobber. I've had periods where practically the bobber goes down on the cast. I like to cronnie fish sometimes, but other times I need to cast and feel a strike. Ideally don't limit yourself to 1 method, but there are times when cronnie-bobbering is so much better than anything else, you gotta join in. It is much more technical than most guys believe. Location is huge. 10 yards off and you are in a desert, get on the fish and it's game on. Depth is huge. Leader tippet is crucial (enough length and fine enough). Fly size and color are less important but I've seen OK fishing turn great when I've switched from black to red cronnies. Like you, I feel like I"ve done this enough to catch fish, but every summer I get in a situation where I'm not catching and someone nearby is crushing. I try to learn and be humble and if you ever asked me what I was doing when I was catching the fish, I wouldn't mind telling you.
 

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AHH Grasshopper! The thirst for knowledge. You will become the fisherman you seek.
Some years back Phil Rowley produced a book on lake fishing and fly patterns. He teamed up with Brian Chan for some of the technical info. In the front of the book there's a section on a trout's diet which covers most aspects from season to season. I've always considered those pages to be some of the most valuable info in the book. Just remember the "season" is determined by the body of water and not our calendar.
 

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FFing and VWs...Bugs & Bugs
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Having just been there last week, I can attest to "that guy" who always seems to be hooked up. However, I had absolutely zip luck fishing one of his flies on a bobber as he had done. I went back to my usual practice on Leech Lake of a 12-15 foot tapered leader, not flourocarbon, WF4F or WF5F line, and a slooww hand twist retreive with a black sz 14 flymph or ant pattern without floatant, let 'em drown. Several large trips and a lot of Brookies fell for this method. Wasn't as many as "that guy", but enough to make me happy. Hope this helps.
 

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Stick with your instincts. Last weekend, trips were being caught in all kinds of ways.
My best action for trips with a damsel nymph and ant.
Certainly a lake though that will switch a bite in a short timeframe.
If all else fails on a pressued lake, agree with Ribka... go small.
My go-to fly was a very simple flashback softhackle.
 

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Wading Leech Lake is possible, but the lake bottom is soft....There are a couple logs you can walk out on and give your balance some practice....
Technique wise, I like Leech because it is a Lake that is so cold, and gets warm real quick, and cools off again in a span of 6 months from Late May-to November, its frozen solid during the winter. The Fish aren't planted until the lake is warmer either (Late June or early July). And not to mention the wind that can blow at this lake being at the top of the pass. Nymps work really good, My go to is a Zug Bug, when nothing else is working I fling that around.
On Windy days, I'll fligh around a wolley bug and troll the lake a bit, pausing and giving my line a tug a few times. On the clear HOT days, I cast long and far and sit as still as possible. Some real nice fish can come out of this lake. The brookies put up a fight, but the triploids make it worth it. I enjoy this lake quite a bit! Keep'em tight everyone...I learned to fly fish on this lake, just watching others on the lake taught me a lot!
 
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