illustrations by Dave Hall
Pods, large groups of feeding fish, provide exciting and demanding fishing.
PODS, large groups of feeding fish, provide exciting and demanding fishing.
- Approach from below the pod. Accuracy is key, so get as close as you can. I often get within 15 to 20 feet of my target — close enough to observe the individual rises and feeding patterns of the fish.
- Have a plan. If you cast into the pod, all the fish will spook and scatter. Strategize about how to catch as many fish as possible. That may mean picking off fish at the tail of the pod or fish feeding off to the side. If you are not after numbers, stalk the largest trout.
- Pick steady risers. Don’t waste your time on sporadic risers, unless they are large.
- Many trout rise at regular intervals. Predict when the trout will rise and time your casts accordingly.
- Focus on individuals. Don’t cast into the group and hope that one eats your fly.
- Don’t waste too much time on one fish. If I can’t get a trout to take after a half-dozen good casts, I pick another target.
- If you have tricky surface currents, change your casting position slightly or put more slack in the leader and tippet by mending or using a slack-line, pile, or curve cast.
- For utmost accuracy, I drive the line directly over the rod tip on the forward cast so that the leader and tippet lay out straight toward the fish, rather than hooking or slicing in at an odd angle.
- Most anglers cast too far upstream of the fish. The fly should land between 8 and 15 inches ahead of the fish and on a path that will take it directly over its nose.
- Seeing small flies can be difficult, but if you cast a straight line, you should know approximately where your fly is on the surface. If you see a fish rise within a foot or two of that spot, set the hook.
- Sometimes I fire the fly at the surface a little harder than normal to make it easier for me to see where the fly hits the water. Slamming down a spinner can make it sink a little, and submerged spinners are very effective.
- When you hook a fish, the best scenario is that it peels away from the pod. If it runs into the pod, I immediately slack off pressure to calm it and prevent it from cartwheeling through the pool. When the fish heads back downstream, I apply the heat and move it away from the pod.
- Sometimes you can’t help but put down the pod after hooking a fish. Be patient. After ten minutes or so, the pod usually starts feeding again.
- A pecking order in most pods puts the largest fish up front. Going for Mr. Big by casting over his buddies won’t work. Get above the pod and drift your fly downstream with a combination of a reach cast and mending. Your first casts are critical.
George Anderson is a well-known fly fishing author and teacher. He owns The Yellowstone Angler fly shop in Livingston, Montana. Excerpted from 1001 Fly Fishing Tips (Headwater Books, January 2008, 219 pages).
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