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Tip & Technique: When You Can’t See Your Fly -- Guess!

08/09/12 at 05:38 AM by Vince Puzick
Tip & Technique by Anthony Surage
Sometimes while fishing the Trico hatch I lose the fly. I just can’t find it on the water. But I catch a lot of fish by guessing. It's not just random guessing -- it's a somewhat logical and informed guess.  If you also lose your fly here are a few tricks.
 A well known trick is to use a larger lead fly so that you can spot the bigger and more visible fly. Keep in mind that your second fly, which is smaller and more true to the size of the naturals (but often not visible),  will be somewhere in the immediate area of the first fly. I tell my clients, “Ok, follow a pizza pie size piece of water around your first fly, drifting down;  if you see a rise anywhere inside that pizza, strike.”  
You can use the first fly like a strike indicator. If it dips under, strike.  But keep in mind,  if your trick of using a larger fly stops working you might have to take it off and only use the smaller fly. Every year toward the end of summer I have noticed that these trout will wise up to the use of a large attractor fly. It literally can scare fish away in the same way that large strike indicators can. So when the fish get tough, I go smaller and use other tricks. 
If you can’t find your fly on the water try to guess about where it is and follow that “piece” of water down with your eyes. If you see a rise in that piece of water, then strike. I have had some success asking my clients to look for the leader in mid air before it lands on the water. It seems this helps them better know where to look. It also helps if you shorten your casts!  I probably say it a thousand times a season, “Shorten up your cast. Find your fly!"  Even if you just shorten your cast a few times, it helps train your eye to "find your fly" on a little bit longer casts.  
I have also noticed that when a fish takes the artificial fly from the surface, often the rise makes a greater disturbance than the other fish that are taking naturals. I think this might be because the fish senses the leader or the hook and they kind of panic a little bit and make a greater disturbance. I just know that often while guiding others (or even fishing myself) and I see this “greater disturbance” even when we cannot actually see the fly,  I will yell, "strike," and often a fish is on.
Learn to use a parachute and "reach mend" cast. Both of these casts basically involve pulling the leader back at the last minute allowing the fly and leader to slowly float down to the water's surface. With such a landing it is actually quite easy to see the end of your leader and your fly and anticipate where it is going to land --  therefore it is easier to spot.
If you learn to use these "reach mend" and parachute casts, not only will you be better able to see your fly, but you will better be able to see how you are achieving a nearly perfect drift so the fish sees the FLY FIRST and not the leader because the leader will be upstream. These FLY FIRST presentations are by far my most effective casts. My best trick.
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