At FlyCast, it is our mission to help you have the most productive day on the water possible. We’re constantly harping on the role that sky, weather, air pressure, hatch activity and river flow play in having a productive day on the river. While understanding these fundamentals will aid us in understanding where a fish may be holding (runs, pools, riffles, pockets, slack water, etc), what they are likely feeding on or how active they might be, it doesn’t complete the picture. Sure, it will dramatically improve your odds, but physically seeing trout is a different story. We’re not going to butter you up and tell you that sight fishing is easy, nor say that you should pass up fishy water if you can’t spot holding trout, but rather encourage you to take the time to work on your sight fishing skills to improve your odds of landing that dream fish.
Sight fishing will improve your game dramatically. For starters, if you can see the fish, you automatically know you’re not wasting your time on empty water. Okay, thanks Captain Obvious. Less apparent, is the fact that sight fishing allows you to simplify your approach and minimize the bad habits associated with reckless long-distance casts and poor mending technique. Once you’ve found your target, you can put yourself in the best casting position and focus on short, clean and drag free drifts.
- River Conditions: We mentioned it earlier, but understanding the role that mother nature plays on a trout’s holding position will help eliminate the initial guess work. For more information here, we highly encourage you to keep up with our daily and weekly FlyCasts or read our How Sky Conditions Impact Fly Fishing or How to Read a River blogs.
- Slow Down and Observe: We know how difficult it can be to channel our excitement of making that first cast, but we can’t stress this enough - SLOW…DOWN!!! Instead of splashing your way into the water, take a second to slow things down and observe. By now you have a general idea where trout might be holding, but now it is time to begin the hunt.
- Here Comes the Sun: I realize we just told you to read our other blogs on sky conditions, but this one’s a biggie. First off, sun exposure can make for a terrible glare (more on this later), especially if the sun is low. Additionally, it creates shadows. Be mindful of your shadow as it can easily spook trout before you even know they are there. As such, do your best to keep a low profile and proceed with caution. On the plus side, sun exposure makes sight fishing all that much easier, particularly on bigger water. So if you’re in the midst of a stubborn cloud, think back to step two, slow it down and wait for it to pass.
- Vantage: Putting yourself in a good position to see plays a huge role in actually spotting trout. Sighting fish is hard enough, let alone seeing through the glare, and in some cases off colored water. It isn’t always possible, given geographical constraints, but do yourself a favor and get to higher ground or find an angle with a backdrop like a hillside, trees or bushes. Doing so will help eliminate the glare and allow you to see more clearly into the depths of the water. Bottom line, don’t be afraid to move around in order to get the best possible vantage point.
- Polarize it: A nice pair of polarized sunglasses does wonders. Our partners at Anglers All have a great variety to choose from. While any pair of polarized sunglasses will help, we strongly recommend sucking it up and spending a little extra. You really do get what you pay for!
- See Through the Water: This is easier said than done, but do your best to see through the water, not at it. Narrow your focus, squint slightly and look for movement in the water. You can even shield your peripherals with your hands to limit the glare.
- Buddy up: Fishing alone can be peaceful and we’ve found that it can even improve your game. However, fishing with a partner, particularly when sight fishing, is incredibly beneficial. Not only do you have two sets of eyes on the water, but one of you can be sighting fish while the other is casting.