It's something that happens every year particularly from mid-to late summer through fall.  Streams are flowing at seasonal lows and the major hatches are now a part of recent history.  It's also time to be cognizant of the fact that some streams need a rest...well, it's all about the trout.  Water temperatures!!

Major - and prolific - hatches are history for the year with very few exceptions.  That doesn't mean that the only fare to bring trout to the surface to feed is terrestrials or midges.  On the contrary, many streams still have hatch activity, albeit sparse or occurring either very early morning or near and after light fades to the point I can't see to cast accurately much less recognize that a fish has chosen my fly.

I find it quite interesting that mayflies are the only critter in all insectdom (think kingdom but for bugs) to have two stages in the adult form.  For the fly fisher this just adds to potential opportunity!  While most spinners follow what we'd consider the norm - gathering en masse to do their procreation thing either early morning or at dusk - there seems to be a fair number that are willing to venture out at odd times throughout the day.  And, lo and behold, they somehow manage to end up on the water where they become easy pickins for the trout.

When it comes to mid-to-late summer fishing I'm fortunate to have a good stream nearby that never warms beyond what is considered fishable.  There are more than a few sections of fairly long, slow water and it's here that fish can be found feeding on the surface sometimes for hours a day.  Never one to be tempted to engage in an effort of futility or something relatively close, I tend to focus on attempting to dupe these fish as they sip on surface fare.  Yep, temptation gets the best of me!

What's really crazy is how long the opportunity to give in to temptation extends throughout the season.  That opportunity grows as time passes and the heat of summer gives way to cooler temperatures.  That translates into more fishable streams.  And that's a good thing!

It's typical of this time of year to see stream flows at or near their lowest.  Surprisingly one stream I fished this past fall was so low that some of the best nymphing water was what I felt too low to consider fishing with a subsurface fly.  Yeah, that's bad.  This stream, while considered a premier trout fishery, gets warmer during a hot, dry summer than most people think.  Drought conditions only make things worse and that means I stay away until temperatures drop and water cools to a point that I can resume fishing.

With the option for nymphing off the table it didn't take me long to spot some fish activity.  I was a bit surprised when I observed more trout, along with a few fallfish here and there, feeding on the surface than what would normally be the case.  While fish could be seen rising in this particular stretch it usually takes a bit of hatch activity to get these fish to look up.  Typical of these kinds of days I couldn't see anything in the air in the form of bug activity.  And also typical of these kinds of days there was nothing to give a hint as to what these fish were taking.  

Once I've decided to target these trout I can look at it what's behind my giving in to temptation a couple of ways:  either I really get off on a challenge or I'm a glutton for punishment.  In reality both are applicable.  Regardless, the sight of smutting rises is ... well ... you gotta' feel it to understand it!

So, what's a smutting rise, you may ask.  Well, the best way I can define it is the subtle sip of a trout taking small stuff off the surface.  After all, trout don't have to work hard at all when they hold in slow flow as the surface currents bring them food items that ain't going anywhere.  And that holds true for small mayfly spinners.  The vast majority of spinners that find their way to the water seem to be dark brown, yellowish-cream and olive/olive-brown.  And, when I say small, I'm talking #18 on down to #24 or smaller.  The spinners of Paraleptophlebia and Baetis account for the larger flies and other minor mayfly species account for the smaller/smallest spinners I encounter.

Mid-to-late summer Paraleps are hatching in the mornings;  however, fishing a spinner throughout the day can be productive.  This justifies my carrying and fishing these patterns when I encounter subtle sippers.  These bugs are active well into September.  As we move into the fall the olive spinners, as well as those pesky little #20 to #24 creamy yellow and olive-brown spent-wings come into their own.

When choosing or tying spinners for this type of fishing I keep my patterns sparse:  two split microfibett tails, thin body and either grizzly hackle or pearl antron fibers tied spent for wings.  When I go for hackle wings I usually use 2 to 3 wraps, divide them and figure eight around the divided hackle to secure the hackle in a spent position.  By manipulating pressure as I work my dubbing thread around the hackle I can kick fibers out to splay them and give me a widened wing appearance.  For antron wings I apply some head cement or equivalent to the wing material at the hook and pull on the fibers front and back to splay the fibers.  The wings on spinners are transparent and I believe that too much wing material moves the pattern away from suggesting the natural.


When it comes to equipment my choice depends on more than one factor.  If I'm going to be fishing a medium sized stream and I believe I may have an opportunity to fish nymphs I'll choose my Douglas DXF 10' 3 wt.  If I plan on fishing only on the surface I'll carry my Douglas 9' 3 wt.  While the 10 footer casts a dry adequately the 9 footer seems to present a tad bit more accurately.

No matter which rod I carry I always fish a 2 wt. line.  Yes, I have more than one.  If I plan on fishing a sighter system for nymphing it's my Cortland Spring Creek line.  If I'm strictly fishing dries it's my Cortland Ultralite line.   My leader will run between 13' and approaching 20' in length depending on which 2 wt. line I'm fishing.  By this time everyone should know that even my sighter leaders are designed to turn over to present a dry fly.  At the terminal end of my leader (that's the tippet end for folks like me who need some clarification) I prefer to use 6X when it works.  There's a reason I always carry a spool of 7X with me.  Sometimes the 6X just doesn't cut it.  My tippet length is going to be as long as I can present and still have the tippet turn over.  If anyone really wants to know what length I start with it's around 4'.  If I start out too long I just cut back a bit until I get the performance I want. 

 A further note about leaders is that there's a major big-time difference in leader tippet performance fishing a fly on the surface versus fishing a fly deep in the water column.  It can be compared - quite roughly - to fishing in 2D and 3D.  Fishing a surface fly would be fishing in 2D.  The leader and fly line are presented across varying currents and each one of those currents has an effect on the drift.  Add to that the fact that there is no weight to resist, in any way shape or form, the effects of the current.  That's why, in contrast to when we fish a nymph on a "tight" line, we don't want a completely straight (think tight) line from where line contacts water just beyond rod tip all the way out to fly.  I'm intrigued by the fact that I can sometimes get a better drift with 7X over 6X when fishing a surface fly.  Micro drag is a reality, for sure.

Let's dig a little deeper and consider the inherent characteristics of tippet material.  First, monofilament  is superior to fluorocarbon for two reasons (well, three if you add in the higher cost):  mono is more supple, or less stiff, than fluoro and for some reason that makes it a bit more resistant to drag.  Too, mono is neutral buoyant and has less tendency to pull a small dry fly under.  Second, and here's where diameter differences matter, the smaller diameter the more supple the material.  It's a no-brainer, thinner isn't as stiff as thicker.  For those who would say "well then, if 6X may provide a bit better drift that 7X why not go down to 8X?  My response is that I want to land a hooked fish and not only retrieve my fly but also release the fish in at least fair condition.  I believe going below 7X is putting both of those in jeopardy.

Now that I've covered my approach to flies and tackle let's consider the actual stream strategy.  The low flows of this time of year mean that I have to give more than fleeting thought to how best to approach sipping trout.  While I don't want to put myself into a position to be seen by the fish I have to be just as conscious of where the sun casts my shadow.  These fish are always on the alert for predators and I definitely fall into that category.

As soon as I place a foot into the water I watch the wake move out across, down and upstream.  It's unavoidable.  The only way I know to keep my wake to a minimum is to move slowly.  The slower the current the slower I move to get into casting position.  Sometimes no matter how slow I move it's still too much and those smutting rises I'm focusing on just stop.  When this happens I keep going, get into position and hope the fish resume feeding.  Sometimes they do ... and sometimes they don't.  It's the old adage "You don't know if you don't try."

I don't like to present a dry directly upstream from my position.  It's not about spooking the riser and I'm not really that concerned that may happen.  It's more about the real possibility that when the trout commits to taking my fly as it's snout pierces the surface film it will encounter the tippet and push the fly out of the way in the process.  Believe me, it happens!  A cast that presents the fly on an angle to the current in which it's sipping is my preference if I'm casting across or upstream.  Some anglers prefer to present from an upstream position for a downstream presentation and there are many instances I find myself identifying with this crowd.  Anyone willing to label this "the fly first presentation" gets my vote.  

So, now I'm in position.  I know, a general statement like this doesn't tell much so let's get a bit more specific.  If there's any way possible for me to slowly place myself within 30 feet of my target I'll give it a try.  If not, I definitely want to get within no more than 45 feet.  Ultimately conditions dictate how close I can approach the actively feeding fish.  Accuracy is easier at closer range.

I'm seeing a few to several subtle smutters within casting distance.  What now?  Well, let's look at this as target shooting.  Pick one riser, focus on it and offer the fly.  It's what we do.  After all, I can't make 'em eat it.  It's always very rewarding if the fish takes on the first drift.  If the fish doesn't take the fly I may ask myself if it was refused or just ignored.  Not a question I can answer every time.  Sometimes I watch the trout rise to the fly only to follow it for for a short distance and descend to it's holding position.  That's an obvious refusal and it leads me to believe drag was the culprit.  Cast again, watch the drift, no reaction on the part of the trout.  Repeat, same result.  Just because one fish won't take my fly isn't saying they'll all treat me so badly.  Hey, I've invested a fair bit of time tying a great looking fly.  I'd like to think I'm offering them something they can't refuse but I guess I'd be lying to myself??  Fantasy and reality are somewhat different, after all.  

And then it happens.  My fly arrives right where the trout has been sipping and it's one of those things that's just plain great to watch.  It's sucked into the mouth of a trout and it looked just like all of the other smutting rises - except this time it was my fly.  Yes, I love it!

Some days the odds are in my favor, others not so much.  I'm one to say that trying to figure out what the trout will find acceptable ... well, it's not something I can say with qualified surety I've figured it out.  You see, on the days when the trout make a fool of me I can't say they're doing it intentionally.  While I've thought I caught a glimpse of a trout snickering at me I chalk it up to my mind playing games with me.  And yes, I hate it when it happens.  It ends up being a slightly perverted invitation to come back again and see if the outcome may tilt in my favor next time.







0 Comentarios