Polaroiding trout with confidence will improve your catch

by Jim Allen

Polaroiding has, for many, been a mystifying and difficult technique to master. Jim Allen attempts to de-mystify and open up this exciting aspect of fishing to the keen angler.

Seeing a fish in its own environment, presenting a fly to it, and then watching it come up and take that fly is the most exciting fishing there is. Tasmanian's are rated as the best polaroiders in the world and what you have here are thousands of hectares of superb shallow water that is eminently suited to polaroiding. Some of the better polaroiders here in Tasmania know more than anyone, anywhere else in the world.

Friends from overseas are stunned to see and participate in this, the most exciting fishing in the world. One American friend said, "Jim, this is flats fishing like I do in Florida every year, only it's in the freshwater instead of the saltwater".

I have caught 1000 lb marlin off Cairns and world record Southern bluefin tuna off Tasmania, but polaroiding trout is my favourite way of fishing. Here are some tips on how you can see, and catch, more fish. There are many misconceptions regarding polaroiding; a few rules will improve your chances enormously.

Firstly, buy a pair of polarising glasses. There is no substitute for quality. Polarising glasses are priced from $20 upwards, the good quality glasses are from around $130 to $180. Some glasses are priced at up to $500 or more. I have used the cheapest to the most expensive. The middle prices glasses generally offer the best value, and while price is often a guide, the most expensive (up to $500) are often not worth the extra cost.

Lenses are available in three different materials. Polycarbonate is inexpensive and used in most of the cheap glasses. It is better than nothing, but really you are just wasting your money. CR39 is an excellent lightweight, high quality plastic that is optically excellent, and affordable. 

Glass is, in my opinion, the best; and my first choice. However, a lot of anglers don't like the weight of glass and find it hard on their ears and nose.

For colour, I like a bright amber/yellow and use these 80% of the time, the brighter the better. The yellow brightens everything up and the light transmission through the water is very good. Another colour I use is a rosey/tan lens, and I find these particularly good at Lake Fergus when polaroiding over green weed. The fish stand out as orange and are much easier to see than with the yellow lens. For saltwater fly fishing on sand flats I use a smoke grey colour, these are very good when fishing for bonefish and the like. Some people find tan better than the yellow, so have a look through a few pairs and find what suits you the best.

One of the major points to polaroiding is to do it with supreme confidence. If you don't believe you will see a fish, you won't. You must believe that with the next glance or turn of the head that you will see a fish; confidence is paramount. If you think you see a fish, stop, it probably is one. Standing still for a minute or two can bring great rewards. Tilt your head slightly from side to side to maximize the polarising effect.

It is not learnt overnight, it takes years and a lot of time. A little secret I use is, when I hook a fish, I keep hi on the line for a while, letting the fish swim over weed and sand and put it into a few different angles. This lets you see the reflection of light and it makes the next fish easier. Another important point is to look for the shadow, no necessarily the fish. The shadow will often show better than the fish. Two examples I can think of are Rocky Lagoon and Lake Botsford, the shadow is prominent while the fish can almost disappear.

Polaroiding is traditionally a 10am to 2pm sun behind you technique when the sun is at its highest. The absolute best situation is a cobalt-blue-sky day with a breeze and absolutely no cloud. The cloud reflects off the surface and makes it difficult to see into the water. The cloud is the menace of the polaroiding angler. Bright days were often looked on as the bane of the angler. When I used to head out to the western lakes in the 1970s I often used to meet anglers coming the other way, believing that conditions were no good for fishing. Now they are a lot smarter and I have to stand in line for my traditionally deserted waters.

Wind is a bonus as it creates waves and opens up a window into the water. Looking through a wave at a fish is tremendously exciting. I remember fishing Lake Kay on a blue sky day in 30 knot winds and seeing the fish swimming along the waves.

It is important to present the flu so that it has a natural drift. Present the fly across wind and let it drift to the down wind side, even though you will normally be looking for fish down wind. It must have a free and natural drift.

A calm, no wind day calls for extreme care in presenting a fly. It is usually the acse of the fish finding the fly rather than casting to it. Waving a flyline around in the air will put the fish down very quickly. Often brown trout travel a "˜beat"and setting a trap by placing a fly in his known path is often the best plan. Wait for the fish to swim past and put the fly into its path.

I find polaroiding can often be very productive even at 5pm to 6pm in the afternoon. Sometimes you can find an oblique angle when the sun will actually reflect off the scales on the fish. I have found it best when the background is dark, and Little Pine Lagoon is sometimes good in this situation, as is Howes Lagoon. The fish glow in the late afternoon light and it can be quite spectacular fishing.

In conclusion I must say once again watching a big brownie come up and take your well presented fly is the most exciting, and rewarding, fishing I have experienced. It gets me back every year, and will continue to do so.


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