03/21/13 – I rejoice for all the skiers, snowmobiles and winter enthusiasts who were hoping for this foot of snow. I too am happy to see it since the snow pack up around our camp in Millinocket with less than a foot two weeks ago and no snow means poor run-offs and early seasonal warming of the streams and rivers I fish. But the snow just has me feeling negative so here’s a bunch of “Do Not Do’s” I call the “Don’ts.” These are things I tell myself and if I listen I catch more fish.
Don’t use a floating line, long leader and no weight and expect to get down.
It just doesn’t work. I know. I don’t like split-shot and don’t like Cone-heads so I often put on a bead-head Prince and hope it will sink enough – it doesn’t. Get some split shot, buy some Cone-heads and get down where the fish are feeding when nymphing.
Don’t go to the water without checking to get an idea what insects should be active.
If you frequent the water around your home you probably have a good idea what’s going to hatch but what if you head north or south a hundred miles or so. Check the web, visit forums, call friends. I go to West Grand Stream the third week of May each year. Some years I’m fishing dries other years I never see a rising fish the whole week I’m there. If I call ahead and the lodge owner tells me the water is still in the mid-40’s I don’t worry so much about dry flies.
Don’t forget to check for clues.
I seldom see people checking leaves streamside or kneeling in the water to check for nymphs on rocks. I have to remind myself to do it yet time and again examining the leaves streamside and rocks in the water has provided just the clue I needed. This painting by Dann Jacobus hangs on my wall to remind me how important checking for clues is. I teased Dann about this painting saying he expected me to pay full price for a painting that was only half done. He just grinned and said “you don’t understand – that price IS half-price. I walked out of his booth that day with two paintings.
Don’t use only big flies.
I can’t help it – at an early age I was told “Big Bait – Big Fish” and it stuck with me. Give me a size 10 March Brown or a Brooks Stone tied on a size 2 hook and I’m a happy man. But I know if I tandem tie a small nymph on the back of that stone or a small Blue Winged Olive off that March Brown I’ll catch more fish. But I ask you – be honest now – if you were a fish looking for a meal wouldn’t you take the big fly?
Don’t use a long line nymphing – Czech Nymphing key is 3’ of fly line beyond the rod tip.
I know guys who tie on a strike indicator rig, flip it out into a swift current along side a seam and then feed their whole fly line out as they watch that bobber – oops – strike indicator travel a 100′ feet or so of river. They should get a center-pin reel it would be easier. Not my cup of tea but more effective than I though the technique would be. But my mantra while nymphing is “shorten that line up – shorten it” and if I keep it short I catch more fish. I tell myself it’s better line control and that I’m more in touch with my fly because I don’t have a bunch of slack but I really don’t know for sure.
And that about does it. I feel better now – I’ve spewed enough negativity with my “Don’ts” list that I m beginning to feel positive and why not it’s going to be high 30’s today – snow is melting fast and the sun came out. I think I’ll go check the river.