Carolina Mountain Sports
123 West Broad St
Statesville, NC
(704) 871-1444
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June 25, 2024
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■  Tips to improve your fly fishing...

Tips to improve your fly fishing…

Learn to cast well…usually by taking lessons…the better you cast, the better you fish.  The more you understand the principles of casting, the more you can adapt them to different situations on the stream.

Learn variations on the roll cast.  The traditional roll cast is great but learn to do one with the rod parallel to the water so the loop unroll low over the surface…or unrolls parallel to the surface of the water.   This will get you under limbs and brush when nothing else will work. 

Pinch down the barbs on hooks.  You’ll catch more fish and it’s less damaging to them and maybe to you.  Wear glasses for eye protection!

Practice tying a few good knots at home.  Don’t waste time on the water struggling to tie…  A clinch knot and a surgeons knot may be all you need but learn to tie them well and fast.  Practice your knots and seek help if necessary.  Practice. 

Learn to fish deep.  More trout are caught on nymphs fished below the surface.  If you’re not bouncing the bottom and hanging up occasionally…you’re not deep enough. 

Split shot will help get those flies down.  Carry an assortment of sizes and match the weight to the depth and the speed of the current.

If you’re not catching fish…change.  Change your depth, your retrieve, your fly, or your location. 

Strike indicators are excellent in many circumstances and help you get a drift that you can’t achieve otherwise.  They also help you detect strikes that just aren’t obvious without the indicator.    In many cases you will catch more fish using indicators.  Other times, like really clear and low water on hard-fished streams, you may want to omit the indicators and concentrate on watching your leaders and line.

A wading staff is a big help.  Not only does it make wading a lot safer.  It allows you to wade with a greater degree of stealth to avoid spooking fish.

A short rod is not always the answer to avoiding hanging up in trees.  Learning to be aware of your surroundings is key…and learning to cast well—and learning a variety of different casts—is critical.   A short rod does not make up for a lack of common sense and poor technique. 

Seek the advice and counsel of fly fishermen and sales staff.  Everybody has their own ideas and opinions.  Sift through them and pick what works the best for you

Rods are rated for optimum casting of 30 feet of fly line back and forth.  If you are routinely casting only 10-15 feet of line (e.g. on a small stream), you may be well served by fishing one or two line weights heavier than your rod specifies.  Don’t be afraid to “upline”…it will improve your short game

If you’re making longer casts, learn to shoot the line.  Most lines and rods are designed to optimally cast (wave) about 30 feet of line back and forth in the air.  Trying to cast longer lengths back and forth will overload the rod and challenge your timing.  Get more distance by learning to realease the line at just the right point on your forward cast and “shoot” more line for distance.

Learn to fish.  Think like a nymph or a minnow and try to make your artificial act the way the real critters act in the water.  Get that fly to imitate the real thing by learning to mend and manipulate the rod and line so the fly imitates natural behavior.  It’s much more than simply dead drifting flies and stripping in streamers.  Make those nymph rise to the surface in different parts of the stream; and make those wooly buggers act like crayfish or wounded minnows.    You’ll start catching more fish.

Add Flourocarbon tippet to your arsenal.  It sinks quicker, is less visible and is a little stronger and more abrasion resistant.   All those benefits can mean more fish. 

Don’t get “hung up” on dead drifting.  Sometimes fish want an active fly.  Improve your fishing by “high sticking,” using the Leisenring lift technique, and twitching flies “on the swing” in an around fish holding lies. 

Spending money on new equipment if great for retailers and part of the fun of fly fishing.  But learning to fish and cast is more productive.  Don’t hesitate to invest in casting lessons, on and off the water, and from different instructors.  And, practice what you’re learning.  Guided trips can also be great investments, particularly with guides who are good instructors and are willing to share their experience and educate you. 


Updated: July 17, 2021
Carolina Mountain Sports

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