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Some of the other less popular fly types are the damselflies and dragonflies. These are larger flies and are usually hit or miss. If a trout likes the offer, it will attack it violently. Otherwise, it's just not interested.
Many insects are also imitated and these patterns are called terrestrials. These are insects such as ants (black, red, cinnamon, winged, etc), beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, etc. Terrestrials are usually fished next to grassy banks, just downstream from a low overhanging tree or along a stretch next to a meadow and on windy days when the wind may cause many insects to enter the water accidentally. For best results, always fish terrestrials close to a bank where the natural insects are most likely to be.
Worms and Leeches are also a food source for trout. Some flies to imitate these creatures are the Inch Worm, the Green Weenie and the Wooly Bugger. These are primarily fished toward the bottom but have been know to catch trout just below the surface as well, depending on the situation.
Other flies to tie/use to imitate food sources would include sucker spawn, scuds, streamers, shrimp, crayfish, eggs and even small mammals such as mice, shrews and moles.
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Assembling the Gear
Ok, now that we have all of our gear, how do we put it all together? Well, you really have two choices. You can either do it yourself or have someone else do it for you. The best scenario is if you learn how to do it yourself because then you'll be ready for anything just in case conditions change while you're fishing and you need to change your line, leader, etc. I'll be totally honest here and tell you that there have been times when I've taken mine to a local fly fishing outfitter and just paid him to do it. The cost is nominal at around $5 or $10. Even if you choose to go this route, you'll still want to learn your knots to change your leaders, tippets and flies, etc.
Here is a visual of the process we're about to step through...
Quite simply, your success all depends on your ability to tie the knots we're about to walk through. The old saying "There's more than one way to skin a cat" definitely applies here as there are many knots that can be used for each application. We'll review the common knots used in each connection and provide a hyperlink to the knot that I use and recommend. Feel free to click on the hyperlink for each knot or wait until you’re finished and read about all the knots at the same time.
The first question should be a simple one to answer. Are you right or left handed? You need to know this to determine which hand you'll reel with. Most right handers will cast with their right hand and reel with the left hand. Left handers usually do just the opposite. Either is fine, just do what you're most comfortable with. If you purchased a good or high quality reel then your reel will be capable of both a right-hand or left-hand retrieve. I prefer the left-hand retrieve because I do not have to switch the rod into the other hand to begin reeling in the line. Your reel should have more drag when reeling one way versus the other. Check to see that you've set it up the right way for whatever hand you have chosen as your retrieve hand. Look straight at the side of the reel with the handle. If you are retrieving with the left-hand you will reel in the line with a counter-clockwise motion. You should be able to reel line in easier than pulling line out from the reel. For a right-hand retrieve, The exact opposite should be true. If it is incorrectly put together either take it to a fly shop or consult the owner's manual for the reel.
Installing the Reel
Your reel will have 2 "feet" that allow it to be attached to the fly rod. You will see the reel seat at the very base of the fly rod. Decide which hand you will reel with and insert the bottom reel foot into the bottom reel seat. Then position the top reel seat down over the top foot of the reel and tighten it securely. Now hold the fly rod in the hand you plan to use as your casting hand. Is the reel hanging down under the fly rod? Is the handle of the reel on the side you plan to reel with? If the answer to both of these is yes then you're ready to move on.
How Much Backing Is Enough?
The first line we'll attach to the reel will be the backing. Consult your local fly shop owner or your reel's owner's manual to find out how much backing to start with and what weight to use. For my particular reel, I use only 50 yards of backing (20 lb test) with a weight-forward 5 weight line for the small to medium size trout I target. The goal is to use enough backing so that the combination of the fixed length fly line and the backing fills the spool to about 1/8" or even 1/4" of the spool's outside diameter.
If you don't know how much backing to use, simply take your fly line and wind it on first. Then wind your backing on until the reel is full. Cut the backing here and remove both lines from the spool. Make sure you do not mix up which end of the fly line is which as the one end is meant to be tied to the backing and the other is the end to which you attach your leader. The two ends will be different if you are using a weight-forward or a shooting taper line.
Attaching the Backing to the Reel
Decide whether or not you want to assemble the rod at this point. I would recommend just using the bottom/handle part of the fly rod at this point so you don't have to worry about hitting the rod off anything while you're going through this process. If you do assemble the rod now (which is fine also), take the backing and feed it through the guides on your rod and run it down to the reel. Now tie an Arbor Knot to attach the backing to the reel and wind it onto the reel in a counter-clockwise motion if you are using a left-hand retrieve or clockwise if you are using a right-hand retrieve. Wind the backing on as evenly across the reel as possible. Leave some slack so there is enough room to tie your next knot.
Attaching the Fly Line to the Backing
Next you’ll tie the backing to the reel side of the fly line. I like to use a Nail Knot here. This knot must be as small and smooth as possible so it doesn't get stuck in the guides if a large fish happens to take you into your backing. Now that the two lines are attached, continue winding the line onto the spool as evenly as possible. Once you have the fly line reeled in, check to make sure that you’ve attained your goal of being 1/8" short of the spool's edge as mentioned earlier.
Attaching the Leader to the Fly Line
Ok, take a deep breath and rest a moment. We’re half way home now. You can do this step using a Nail Knot or a Perfection Loop. I’ve included a hyperlink for both of these because I like them equally and can’t really recommend one over the other. The Nail knot will give you a solid knot with near 100% strength however you will not be able to tie on a new leader without tying a new knot. This is fine if you can tie these knots quickly and easily. Otherwise you would want to use a Perfection Loop with a looped leader so you can change leaders in seconds.
Tying on Tippet
The main purpose of the tippet is to extend the life of the leader as you change your flies. The rule of thumb is to add tippet material when the leader is 80% of its original length. For instance, a 7.5 foot leader has about 1.5 feet of tippet when it is new and a 9 foot leader has about 2 feet of tippet when it is new. I'd suggest you add tippet before your leader gets this short because that way you will be able to replace the tippet many times without losing any taper in the leader. This is not a MUST but I like the added flexibility the tippet gives. You will use either a Surgeons Knot or a Blood Knot to make this connection. Again, this is one where I like either knot. I personally find the surgeon's knot easier to tie so I tend to use it more but I know an awful lot of masterful anglers that use the blood knot here as well.
Tying on the Fly
Ok, here we go. Drum roll, please. We’ve made it to the end. If you don’t have your rod fully assembled, this is the time to do it. Once the rod is assembled, making sure the guides line up (which is essential for casting), thread the leader through the guides with at least 3 feet of leader pulled out passed the top guide to give yourself enough slack to tie on the fly easily. You're now ready to tie on your fly using an Improved Clinch Knot. That's it! You're gear is ready to use.
First, after you’ve mastered the single fly approach, you’ll want to try a dropper fly. This is simply tying a second fly onto the hook of the first fly using about 18 inches of tippet. The first fly is usually a dry fly with some type of nymph tied on as the dropper. This is not always the case though as many times you’ll want to use 2 nymphing flies in such applications as Steelhead fishing. Second, when tying knots, always remember to lubricate the knot with saliva or water from the stream before tightening the knot. The reason for this is that without doing this it causes friction as the different sections of leader/tippet rub against one another. Friction causes heat and heat is an enemy to leaders and tippets and will weaken the knot.
Ok, next you can move on to either the Knots section or the Fly Casting section to learn these areas.
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Mayflies are born on the stream bottoms. They go through various stages of life which will discuss next. Mayflies provide a constant source of food for trout.
Mayflies hatch from an egg and spend the next year or so underwater as a nymph. During this stage they shed their skin frequently. To see what kind of nymphs are in the stream you're fishing, pick up a few rocks from the bottom. See which is the most prevalent and try to match the color, size and shape of the real nymphs. The current will catch nymphs and wash them downstream to a waiting trout. To imitate this action, cast your artificial fly so it hits the water above a spot where you suspect a fish to be hiding. Cast it far enough above the spot so it has time to sink to the fish's level. If the current is strong, you'll need to utilize some type of weighting system to help get the fly down to the level of the feeding trout. You'll need to adjust this frequently for the changing situations.
Don't be intimidated by nymph or subsurface fishing. When I started fly fishing I was nervous about nymph fishing as I figured it would be difficult because unlike fishing dry flies, I couldn't see the nymphs underwater. As time has passed, though, I've grown to love nymph fishing and now do it every bit as much. To start out fishing nymphs you'll generally want to position yourself up current from the feeding trout and cast the nymph across and slightly down the current. Sometimes you may want to animate the fly to look as though it is swimming to the surface. If a fish senses that the nymph is going to get away it may attack. Cast your nymph up current of the fish and allow it to drift right to the fish. Then, just as your fly is about to reach the fish, lift your rod and fly line to make the fly rise and appear as though it is going to escape. By doing this you'll bring out the predator in the trout because if it thinks its next meal is going to get away the trout is likely to attack.
After the initial year underwater as a nymph, the mayfly begins its next stage where it sheds its armor and emerges to the surface to fly away and live its short life as an adult.
When multiple mayflies all of the same species emerge at once, we call this a "hatch." The trout sense this phenomenon and their predatory instinct "turns on".
Emergers are actually the mayfly's first stage of adulthood. Not only must the emerger escape it's armored skin but it also must penetrate the water's surface, called the film. One tell tale sign that trout are feeding on emergers is if you see them "bulge" the surface of the water. In this instance, they'll won't actually break through the surface of the water. You'll usually just see the top of the fish as it arches up and back down again. To try to match these emergers, take a piece of cheesecloth or similar material (they also make nets just for this purpose) and try to catch a few and take note of the size, color and shape and tie on the closest thing you have to it. Then suspend this fly just beneath the surface where the fish are feeding.
When a mayfly emerges from the water, it straightens out its wings and floats on the water until they dry. This stage is called a dun. As soon as the dun's wings are dry, it takes flight to a nearby tree where it undergoes yet another change. Within a few hours, the dun's shell splits open and a "spinner" emerges. Spinners will then mate. Then the females will swoop down to the water surface, deposit their eggs and die very soon thereafter. To simulate this stage of the mayfly, dead drift (float the fly down the stream with no movement) a dry fly with upright wings, matching the size, shape, and color of the natural fly, and allow it to float naturally. Any unnatural movement in the fly is called drag and this occurs when the fly floats faster or slower than the current or any other natural insects. This will cause mini ripples around your fly causing it to look unnatural. This is usually fixed by mending your line.
Like the hatch, the fall of many spinners triggers fish to begin another feeding binge. There's no better experience than to be a part of a productive hatch.
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