Can you feel it??? The weather is warming, the stoneflies have begun to trickle off in many places, and we’ve heard rumors that the blue winged olives are starting to pop. It is almost game time! Time to dust off the rods, finish up tying those last spring patterns, and pick up those last-minute items to ensure success on the water. Below are some items, tips, and tricks that always need a refresh from last year’s trials and tribulations.
Gear Tips for Spring
Replace Your Tippet Annually
I learned from a mentor early in my fly fishing career that the single most important aspect to landing more fish is that last, thin piece of line attached to the fly. Refreshing tippet spools have become a tradition, if not a necessity for me yearly. These spools are hanging from your sling all year long and are constantly exposed to the elements: UV, rain, heat, cold, etc. As the year goes on, the line becomes weathered and possibly brittle. Whether that 6X is truly 6X becomes suspect and it is already thin enough! Replace these yearly to ensure confidence in your game and ensure you land that big one! If you want to get into the classic debate of fluoro vs nylon, see here. I will stay neutral in this debate.
Refresh Your Indicators
If you are anything like me, I find my indicators stuffed everywhere after the season is over. They are in every pocket of my waders, the floor of my car, and even in my laundry. I’ll admit, I even have watched many float into the sunset (thank god for biodegradable indicators to ease the pain). Yet, they are never where I need them to be when I need them. I always pick up a pack at the beginning of the season! I am partial to airlocks or the new Oro styles but everyone has their favorites! Try them all until you find one you like.
Refill Your Fly Boxes
This goes without saying; by the end of the year, my boxes are barren. I would love to say it is empty from bruisers breaking me off, but it is more likely due to vegetation above and boulders below. I tie many of my own flies but there are some I simply refuse to tie or just do not have time to. Local fly shops are always my go-to but in a pinch, there are many online stores that suffice. What is nice about this time of year, is that you learn what flies you use most and what flies you do not use. Purge the unused ones and restock the used ones. Check out all the flies here!
Replenish Your Leaders
Just like tippets, leaders are almost just as important to tippets in landing fish. While these are not as exposed to the elements, leaders are constantly shortened every time the tippet is attached. Eventually, that taper is ruined and that perfect cast just will not unravel right. Refreshing these are having some spares lying around is a necessity in the early season.
Check Your Fly Lines
Fly lines are one of those items that I think about replacing every year but seldom do. Until there is a visible rip/cut in the line or they stop floating, I do not replace them. Still, spring is a great time to check for these issues and ensure that your fly line is performing as intended.
Add a New Fly Rod to Your Arsenal
What better reason is there than the start of fishing season to put a new rod in the quiver? Fly Rod companies have been hard at work all year redesigning and creating the best of the best for the year. Check out a few new releases from Sage, Redington, and Hardy, and pick up a new favorite for the upcoming season.
Tips for Spring Fly Fishing
Fish Weather Windows
Spring is all about capitalizing on conditions and fishing smarter not harder. As temperatures continue to fluctuate and shift, pay attention. Many fish and insect species take advantage of these warming periods to hatch or feed, and that is when you want to be on the water. Of course, the old Simms slogan “Forget the Forecast” should be the motto if you just need to get out on the water, but be sure to fish your hardest when the conditions and activity under the water are at their zenith!
With the changing of the seasons comes a sharp change in fish behavior. Across the country, fish are beginning to wake up and start their migration into the spring-holding and feeding waters. This means one thing, all you need to do is get out there and try something new this season whether it’s finally checking out those streams you have pinned on your map, giving a new technique the old college try, or chasing a new species!
Explore New Water
As the rivers rise with spring rains and water temps climb, trout and other freshwater fish will begin waking up and moving into their favorite springtime holding and feeding zones. No longer are they hunkered down in deep, slow pools. Instead, they’re sitting in riffles and ambush points waiting to take full advantage of every feeding opportunity.
Take advantage of the longer daylight hours and check out new stretches of water you may have passed over this winter, and see what the fishing gods have in store!
Looking for new water to explore, check out the OnWater app!
Try New Techniques
One of our favorite spring challenges is to try out a new fishing technique. A major benefit of spring fishing is the bounty of forage options fish have. Some days they may be relentlessly chasing baitfish in the shallows and another sipping mid-day stoneflies in a slow pool. This means you can try a bevy of different techniques and likely end up tight to a thrashing trout. If you’re a nympher, give streamers a try. If you prefer delicate dry fly fishing, bust out a trout spey and skate caddis. You’ll be surprised at what learnings you might take away from the day on the water, and who knows, maybe you’ll find a new obsession!
Chase a New Species
With fish migrations beginning, spring brings with it the opportunity to put a new species in your sights. Spring smallmouth offers hard fights and hours of fun when they’re in the mood, and are a great option if you’re looking to switch things up in the spring. If you live near the East Coast, put striped bass on your hit list and head to the coast with your 8 WT and a box of Clouser’s. Or take up the challenge of spring steelhead as they get moving during their annual migration.
The options are really endless this time of year, and the best thing you can do to take advantage is to…
…Just Get Out There!
Nylon vs. Fluorocarbon – A Guide to Choosing the Right Tippet and Leader Material