A River SomewhereThe television show "A River Somewhere" did wonders for the fly fishing interest. Never has fly fishing had so much exposure in this country and not a day went by where a client did not ask me if I had seen the show. Everyone loved it from novice to expert angler alike, and for good reason. The series was presented in a layed back fashion and the focus was certainly not about the result of fishing but the journey.
I can't help but think that the show would not have been half as successful if it was called "A Lake Somewhere'. For most people a river is a more intriguing and interesting place, a more peaceful place. When compared to our lakes rivers are generally a 10 degree warmer place to be and a whole less windier.
We have some wonderful river fishing here in Tasmania. Granted they are not like the awesome Kiwi rivers but none the less they are wonderful places to be and sometimes the fishing can be terrific. Get out and have a look at them more often and enjoy the "journey" more than worrying about the "result'. It is better for your soul. Having said that here are 10 tips to improving the result.
1 The cormorant - look a lot ,cast little
Most of our rivers are slower moving providing plenty of backwater and sidewater fishing opportunities. This is mostly where you will find the larger fish. Keep still in a concealed position for a few minutes longer than your otherwise un patient attitude dictates. You will be well rewarded by longer periods of observation.
2 Boy Scouts - be prepared
Know exactly how your fish behaves, understand his beat and the timing. Consider your moves once you hook him. Adjust your tippet strength to the size of the fish and the conditions. Getting it right first time is what it is all about for backwater fish. Try to set a trap rather than cast directly at the fish.
3 Lengthen the leader - to avoid drag
Drag is often the river anglers greatest enemy. A simple way to get better drift is to add 5 feet of tippet to your leader. It is then almost impossible for anyone but the greatest of casters to straighten this out on the delivery. It also keeps the flyline further away from the fish when casting up and across them as we often do in rivers.
4 The deadly nymph - instead of a dry
Think about giving bigger and harder to catch fish a nymph to think about instead of the dry. In many situations you can watch for the fishs" mouth to open before the strike and I personally find this just as rewarding as seeing the take from the surface. Use a nymph more often and I guarantee you will catch more fish.
5 Tricky casts - sometimes it is about not casting
Lance Armstrong's Biography is called "It's not about the bike'. Well, it's often not about the cast. In many river fishing situations there is no room for flash casting styles. Get in there and make it all up. Do what ever it takes to get the fly on the water. There are a whole suite of trick casts that are simple to do and very effective. Come along to a casting tuition day sometime and learn them. The bow and arrow cast is the most obvious and certainly a very deadly cast. A roll cast is the most important to you if you fish rivers a lot.
6 The Gardner
If you fish a spot often take along a folding pruning saw. You will be amazed how just 5 minutes work can improve the situation for next time without buggering up the lie for the fish. Focus just as much on the back cast space as the branches over the water.
7 downstream presentations for big cunning fish
Often overlooked. This is an end on presentation where the first and only thing the fish sees is the fly. Naturally if we throw upstream the leader has to pass over the fish first and in calm clear situations this is often not the best.
8 The blender - don't wear bright clothes.
It's not such an issue on the lakes as we are often outside the trouts cone of vision. On the rivers the fish are very territorial and they are familiar with their above water environment as much as their aquatic one. Wear clothes that blend in a little and stalk slowly. Work in the shadows as much as you can.
9 Short and Sweet - get yourself a 7 foot rod
More opportunities are available to you if you have a shorter rod. You will really notice this if you fish a river with a friend who has a standard 9 foot rod. "Oh, you better cast into that spot" is often quoted. I have a Peter Mckean short cane rod for a 5 weight line. I get loads of enjoyment from using this very beautiful hand crafted tool. This beautiful rod certainly contributes to the journey.
10 Let them go again
They are territorial and the bigger ones live in the better spots. You can often catch the same fish in the same spot a week later.