When Everything Goes Right
Todd Coyne, Bryan Meck and I met recently in Mesa, Arizona, in early November for a day of fishing on the nearby Salt River. Now the Salt is a marginal trout river at best and it depends on state stockings for its trout population. The state had stocked the river for the first time this fall just two days before we arrived. Todd wanted to catch his first desert rainbow so we headed to the Salt just 20 miles outside of Phoenix, Arizona. The section of the Salt just below Saguaro Lake is a bottom release and is cold enough to hold trout all year long. But a couple miles below the dam the river warms considerably and is home to a good population of bass. It is this lower section, however, that holds the most water and is the section the state stocks with trout in the winter. The Verde River enters the Salt at a section the locals call Phon de Sutton and from this point down river to its demise at Granite Reef is the section with the most water and planted trout. At Granite Reef the river is emptied and completely diverted to ditches and canals for irrigation.
When we arrived at the river we all tied on Zebra Midge patterns and fished them just under the surface. After a couple fruitless hours we were about to call it a short trip and quit because not one of the three of us had even a strike. Bryan tied on a Black Caddis pattern with a tungsten bead and said he wanted to make a few casts with that fly before we quit. The tungsten bead takes the pattern near or on the bottom without any additional weight. In no time at all Bryan landed two trout on that pattern. Todd and I decided to get near the bottom and we both tied on weighted bead head Glo Bugs. These Glo Bugs had a bead head and about five wraps of lead placed under the bead when they were tied.
I tied the tandem with a Patriot dry fly and I tied the Glo Bug about 3 feet behind the dry fly. That added weight on the Glo Bug took the pattern near the bottom but didn't sink the dry fly. The Glo Bugs sank quickly in the heavy water and in no time Todd and I landed several trout.
I just mentioned that we were fishing heavy water. The Verde River ran high and a bit off color so getting the pattern on the bottom wasn\rquote t the only problem. All three of us constantly mended our lines to get as long a drag free drift as possible. That helped because we began catching more trout. We quit fishing at noon and headed back to our cars. All of us felt a real sense of accomplishment for what we had done that morning and the trout we caught.
What does al of this prove? In How To Catch More Trout I suggested that there are at least four important ingredients to experiencing more success. First, use a pattern that is productive - one you believe in and one that has worked for you in the past. If that pattern doesn't work then be ready with a second and third backup pattern and don't be afraid to switch. In a pinch, the Glo Bug has always worked for me.
Second, fish the pattern at the correct depth. We caught no trout near the surface so we sank the pattern near the bottom and began catching trout. Remember this important ingredient if you catch no trout near the surface: try the same pattern near the bottom and visa versa.
Third, fish that pattern, wet or dry, with as little drag as possible. The pattern in most cases should drift with the current and not any faster or slower. We continuously mended our lines in this fast water to produce a drag free drift.
Finally, all three of us used an appropriate leader - a 4X fluorocarbon. That leader under those conditions helped us catch more trout. I'm confident that if we had use a heavier leader we wouldn't have caught as many trout that day.
Those same four ingredients - leader, depth, pattern and drag - can help you catch more trout. They can quickly change a frustrating fishing trip into a memorable one. Use them to your advantage.
Do you want to read more about leaders, depth, drag and patterns? You can purchase How To Catch More Trout at your book store, fly shop or call (724)588-3492. You can also click on Books on this site and order the book..