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Seven Tips on How To Be a Better Fly Angler

Seven Tips on How To Be a Better Fly Angler

Monday, 04 September 2023 20:30

Hundreds of miles of truly wild trout water can be found in western North Carolina. From high-altitude native brook trout to streams with wild brown and rainbow trout, there’s something for everyone. Some secret fishing locations are right off the beaten path, while others are miles away and hardly fished. 

Backcountry fly fishing lets anglers take on new challenges away from what can be crowded waters in our area. In these areas, you will often find some of the most beautiful trout in the world. The colors on these fish will be the perfect representation of how trout species should appear. 

Many of the streams within are remote and difficult to get to. Although maps of the area can provide the locations of many of the streams and rivers that are available, unless you are familiar with the mountain roads, public lands, and areas where fly fishing is not allowed, then it is imperative that you have one of our professional guides at  Turning Stone's Fly Fishing to lead you to success. 

Turning Stone's Guide can also spend time with you to teach you how to be a better fly angler from our years of valuable experience.

How To Be a Better Fly Angler

One of the best parts of learning how to fly fish is that you can never stop learning and becoming a better fly fisherman. There’s always something new to figure out and something out there to help you become a better angler. 

Although a professional guide can definitely train you on the basics during a guided excursion or through a class, you should always be learning how to be a better fly angler. Here are seven tips to assist you that focus on the mechanics of fly fishing techniques.

Seven Tips To Become a Better Fly Angler

1) Fish Upstream in Small Waters

Always try to work upstream on small waters. These types of streams don’t usually allow you the options of larger bodies of water where you can fish down, across, and pretty much any other way without spooking fish.

Fishing upstream gives you the advantage of approaching trout from the rear, where they are less likely to see you. You can take extreme levels of stealth and crawl on your hands and knees, but if you simply crouch down and avoid jerky movements and keep your shadows off from pools as you approach them, you’ll be just fine. 

2) Dead-Drifting a Streamer

Many anglers fish streamers the typical way. Cast it out and strip it back in. It can be very effective. One other great tactic is to try dead-drifting a streamer along a bank so the profile is perpendicular to the current. You can use your line to control the fly in the same way as you would tight-line nymphing.

Many times you will induce a strike that is far from subtle with this technique, and you can fish two techniques with one style of fly. Go from standard streamer fishing to tight-line nymph/streamer fishing in one go when you see a likely holding spot. 

3) Casting in Dangerous Crosswinds

Casting in strong winds can be challenging, especially if the wind is blowing directly into your casting arm. It’s a recipe for disaster in the form of massive tangles or, worse, a hook in the head. You can overcome this, though. Simply turn around and face the other way.

Sounds odd at first, but this solves the problem of the wind blowing the line into you. The trick now is to just cast normally, but instead, you will lay out your presentation on your backcast instead. Basically, you just reverse things. It may take a little practice to fully stop the rod tip on the final backcast and get things to unroll correctly, but this works perfectly on those horribly windy days on the water.

4) Use Bigger Flies in High Water

High, murky waters are not the time to try and match the hatch. Fish will be opportunistic and snatch up things that are moving quickly by them in the dark waters. The chances of them seeing something larger moving quickly by them are far greater with a larger fly.

Larger flies also tend to move a lot of water which can also attract attention and bring fish to your fly. Look to flies like conehead streamers, big stonefly nymphs, larger copper johns, and other flies in larger than normal sizes. Also, while white and other flashy colors work great, don’t overlook black in dark and off-colored waters.

5) Making a Delicate Presentation

The simple secret to making a delicate presentation is in controlling the rod tip. Dropping the rod tip too early in your presentation, and your fly line won’t roll out entirely and will crash into the water. The rod tip should stop at about eye level to let the loop roll out. At that point is when you should lower your rod tip. 

6) Use the Slip Strike to Prevent Breaking Light Tippets

This is a technique to help if you find yourself breaking fish off on the hookset and when using lighter tippets.  This is a tip to help combat that feeling of loss when you set that hook just a little too hard, which is called the slip strike. What it does is uses the friction of the fly line against the rod guides to set the hook. 

As you raise the rod tip, don’t pinch the fly fine as you normally would, but instead, make an O with your thumb and forefinger of your line hand and let the line slip through as you raise the rod tip. The tippet can’t break because the tension on the line now is so light compared to actually gripping the line as you normally would.

7) Use Longer Tippet Than You Would Think

A good rule of thumb is that it’s always better to have too much tippet than too little tippet. When you have less than twenty inches of tippet, you have very little room left for changing flies, and it doesn’t help with drag reduction or improving the delicacy of your presentation. Try to use around three to four feet of tippet material on a nine to twelve-foot leader. 

This will give you plenty of line to tie on new flies, help with micro-drag in the water and also help with your presentation. 

Utilizing Turning Stones Fly Fishing Guides Can Make You a Better Fly Angler

All of the guides here at Turning Stone's Fly Fishing have years of experience and can provide hands-on training to assist you in becoming a better fly angler.

If you wish to become a better fly angler and catch more fish while experiencing the wonderful fly fishing adventures in the southern Appalachians,  then book a trip with Turning Stone’s Fly Fishing today. For more information, contact us today.


Written by:

Gordon began fly fishing as a teenager in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he was raised. He has snagged great catches from as far away as Nevada, California, and Belize. However, he and his wife decided to settle in western North Carolina, where they started Turning Stones. Gordon is a Certified Casting Instructor for the Federation of Fly Fishers and the  Southeastern Coach of the USA Youth Fly Fishing Team.