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Don’t

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.

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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.

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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.

9K71L2SF[1]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.