25 Things to Make You a Better Angler: No. 5 “Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut”

I’m a firm believer that there’s a time and a place for everything when it comes to tactics and gear used to catch trout.  I suppose if I could dial up the perfect scenario, it would be sight fishing with dry flies. (What’s not to like about that?)  But I also genuinely enjoy nymph fishing with strike indicators for its three-dimensional appeal.  You have to use your imagination to figure out what’s happening under the surface.  And you learn important lessons by doing so.  For example, the best nymphing anglers I know will change their weight at least five times before even considering switching flies.

But it breaks my heart sometimes when I see people using the same old rig–especially when it’s two flies and a bobber–over and over, without trying new things.  Sometimes I think those shortcuts that help us are also what holds us back.

That’s especially true with guides.  In an previous post, I talked about how valuable great guides are in exposing newbies to fly fishing, and most guides I know take that role seriously.  But I wonder about the person who’s all excited to try catching trout on flies, so they sign up for a guide trip… then watch a bubble or a chunk of yarn float downstream over and over because that’s all a guide wants to do.  Don’t some of those people inevitably leave the river wondering if that’s it?

I’m certainly not one to argue the point that catching fish makes for happy anglers.  But I think there’s something to be said for trying a little bit of everything as you teach others to fish.  I think that’s also true when you’re teaching yourself to fish, and let’s face it, over the years, an angler is ultimately his or her own best teacher. 

I’m not telling you to ditch the things you trust as tried and true.  But I am saying that when you see that trout laid up in clear skinny water, you should realize that it’s there for a reason (often times, to eat).  So you might not want to march right to the deep run without trying a few dry flies, maybe emergers.

With so much going on in a trout river, the only downside risk is getting stuck in a rut.  So try to set a little time aside for trying new things and experimenting. Doing so will add to the fun, and help you become a better angler.

-Kirk Deeter

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