The weather is getting nice, and the trout bite is on! Here are 10 ways you can increase your success rate on a trout stream.

  1. Location

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The most crucial part of catching more trout is understanding the water you are fishing. Certain times of the year water is going to be more productive than others. For instance, if you are fishing the Missouri during the Salmon Fly hatch, you will catch more fish than if you are fishing it in the dead of winter. Yes, this seems like a very obvious statement, but do your research. Check local water levels and flow discharges. If you have 3 – 4 local fishing options do some research to see which fishery will be performing best during that time of year. A great place for information is contacting your local fly shop. Do a google search, and give them a call. Advice is free.

2. Have the right flies.

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After you know where you are fishing, do your best to try and match the hatch. Matching the hatch is not always as easy as it sounds. So do your best to have a backup plan. Once again your local fly shop is the best place to find out what the local fish are biting on. Also don’t be afraid to ask someone on the water or in the local parking lot. It might seem intimidating, but most people are willing to help. Always keep some standard flies in your arsenal, like San Juan Worms, woolly buggers, caddis etc – to cover the basics.

3. Change your flies!

untitled (62 of 64)The angler who fishes one fly all day is probably not going to have the most success. Change your flies up, go small, go big. Throw on a nymph rig and a bobber – as much as you might hate that style of fishing. Throw on some weight and make sure you are changing depths with your flies.

4. Change up your strips

untitled (1 of 64)Once again, changing things up is KEY for finding trout. There is no right way to retrieve a streamer. Try letting it sink to the bottom, try letting it swing across the pool. Keep changing and keep covering water. That will be key to finding where the fish are and what they like.

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5. Have patience

untitled (5 of 56)Nothing comes easy in fly fishing. So stay patient, take a deep breath and enjoy your surroundings. If your fly line gets caught in a tree, laugh it off, it happens to everyone. The more patience you have the more you will stay relaxed, and the more time your fly will spend on the water.

6. Wake up early

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The early bird gets the worm. Sure that might be an old folk saying, but it definitely has some validity. If you are the first one fishing you have the best shot at getting a bite – it’s as simple as that. Fish also tend to feed early in the mornings, and late in the evenings. You will also maximize your time on the water, and spending a full 10 hours looking for that trophy fish might end up paying off.

7. Pay for a guide!

untitled (17 of 64)Save up some money, and go out with a guide. It’s on these days that you can learn so much from an experienced angler. They will also most likely show you secret holes on a river you have been fishing your whole life. Don’t be afraid to drive a little and take an adventure to a new river also.

8. Have the right gear

untitled (47 of 64)When I am targeting trout I like to prepare two rods before I hit the water. One will usually have a streamer, and the other will most likely have a dry dropper. This way I can fish three different flies in one pool in a matter of minutes without having to change anything up. Having a sinking tip with you is a good idea if you think fish are sitting deeper in pools. Having a fly line that is in good condition is more helpful than you think. Have the basics with you at all times; floatant for you’re dries split-shot for your nymph rig, nippers to change up flies, polarized glasses to spot fish and keep yourself from falling. Make sure you are comfortable on the water, and have the right gear, the gear is one of the best parts of fly fishing (in our humble opinion). Some companies that we work with. Loop Tackle – for rods, Scientific Anglers – for lines, Costa sunglasses, Patagonia for – waders.

9. Learn how to read water

untitled (39 of 64)Every time you have a strike or catch a fish, take a mental note on what type of water you are fishing. Once again, you are trying to learn as much as you can. Look for foam lines, slow deep riffles and swirling pools. Look for structure in the river, like logs or rocks, and target the water behind them. Think about how fish move and sit in the water, once you can think like the fish you will have a better chance of making the right presentation.

10. Work on your cast

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Your cast can always use work. If you are a beginner, seriously consider a practice-caster rod. Another great place to start is in the backyard or on a sports field. Work on casting, off the river so you are confident once you are in the zone. Work on your roll cast, so you can take advantage of fishing different types of fishing spots.


Photos and words by flylords founder @jzissu

Shoutout to Tanner @sanjuanandeggs and Scott @smontross for helping us get on fish for this article.