How To Increase Your Catch Rate And Save Money!
I feel it’s time to literally get back to basics to increase your catch rate. A lot has been written over the years regarding fly fishing and I think that many of us are losing our way to a certain extent. We are “caught up in all the fluff and hype” spouted by the media and tackle companies. If half of what was claimed by rod manufacturers was true everyone could cast 100ft instantly! – What should we actually believe?
I honestly believe that 90% of anglers reading this can increase their catch rate by making subtle changes to the way they fish and the way they maintain their tackle. I accept it’s a boring subject, but I hope to provide you with some common sense advice that should result in more fish in the bag, and less expenditure down the line.
Looking After Your Trout Flies
Flies along with your leader are the most important part of your tackle as they are responsible for actually hooking the fish. Compared to the cost of rods and reels they are inexpensive, often overlooked and not treated with the respect they deserve simply because they “only cost £1.50 or so”.
An average anglers box of flies will cost in the region of £150, most anglers simply place them in a box in loose groups, ie, Nymphs, Dries, Lures, Wets, etc. without any further thought. They are found easily on any given day, used and replaced.
Colours run, hooks become rusty especially with damp flies, even when the best quality materials are used, this leads to fewer takes, more tentative takes and lost fish.
Bright patterns should never be stored with dark patterns, colours leech, especially when wet and stain other flies.
Fur based patterns especially Snakes and Minkies just soak up water like a sponge and retain it for days, this can lead to the hook rusting under the dressing and snapping off the next time you get a take – it’s easy to claim the hook was faulty, but in essence, it’s because you haven’t stored the fly correctly after use. Even worse would be if you had just hooked into that fish of a lifetime and it was lost.
It’s a simple fix. Flies that have been used should be first shaken to rid them of excess water, then hooked into a piece of foam ensuring they are not touching another. Snakes or Minkies should always be dried so they are straight. When home I then cover the foam and flies with kitchen roll to further draw out the moisture before finally leaving them on or near a heater to dry off overnight – only then will I place them back in my fly box.
Another worthwhile investment is a ceramic hook sharpener – hook points often get turned over (caught on the backcast/bottom etc.) or just become blunt through use. They should be razor-sharp – either discard the fly and replace it with a new one or sharpen the hook.
I feel it’s worth pointing out that; fly patterns only last for years if they are not used and kept hidden away – the fact is, flies simply do not last forever! Hooks will become blunt through use. You can touch them up with a diamond hook sharpener but they are never as good as new and can rust. Materials become dull especially if they get covered in mud, blood, fish slime etc. or bleached by the sun. Fish have a habit of destroying flies, marabou tails become chewed and snake patterns lose their fur and movement. In reality 5 – 6 fish is about the maximum you can realistically expect from a pattern before it becomes much less effective.
Some anglers say that patterns become more effective when they are used and chewed etc. It’s utter rubbish – my view is that your fly was incorrectly tied to begin with!
Look After Your Rods and Guides
Rod tips (and the first 3 eyes down from the tip) will wear, especially when you are using sinking lines, slight grooves appear over the course of a season. This can literally ruin your expensive fly lines, causing cuts and nicks in them. In short, they must be replaced ASAP. If you have an expensive rod or don’t feel competent it’s best to have the eyes replaced by a local rod builder. In the Midlands area, I can personally recommend the services of Phil Caress 01733-340381 rods can be collected & delivered to Rutland or Grafham.
Fly Lines & Braided Loops
Almost every Stillwater angler has a braided loop on the end of their fly line on which they attach their leader. These will need checking and changing at least once a season. The majority of anglers simply slide the fly line down the braid, before sliding ½” of a clear plastic tube over and applying a small amount of super glue to hold everything in place.
Whilst this will work it can be significantly improved, the plastic tube creates a small lip and it can stick or jolt when you pull the braided loop through the rod eyes. The fish then has a chance to get it’s head down and fight when it was near to being beaten. It’s far better to whip the fly line and braided loop join with tying thread and cover with a coat of superglue, this creates a smooth join. For me, these little things all add up and often make a distinct difference and will increase your catch rate.
Line Markers & Fishing The Hang Will Increase Your Catch Rate
Line markers are absolutely essential when fishing any line from an intermediate to Di-8. I still hear the argument from international anglers that “I know exactly where my line is”. Its absolute rubbish, in the heat of a competition or when faced with challenging conditions at the end of a drift then we will all benefit with a line marker.
A line marker is essentially a 1” piece of bright floss or tying thread whipped onto the fly line and varnished. Most boat anglers use 9ft 6 or 10ft rods so the line marker should be whipped on at 14ft from the braided loop. This will allow you to “Hang” your flies at depth when the marker hits the rod tip ring, and hang again when the marker is actually in your hand. The marker will allow you to control your flies and strike – for me, it is as essential as your fishing reel and its value should never be underestimated.
The Hang is simply a pause at the end of your retrieve in which you can try to induce any following fish to take. When the line marker hits your tip ring… get ready. This is the most important part of the cast… do not just lift and recast or just hold the flies motionless in the water – just hanging – the fish will swim around and then away without hitting the fly.
You must induce the take and get the fish to take your fly, a jig or bounce of the rod with jolt the flies, then gently lift the rod so your fly, or flies, come to the surface slowly… without removing them from the water, check behind the flies for any following fish. Often you will see any take before you feel it (although sometimes you don’t feel it) so if in doubt – Strike Hard! Do not just lift into the fish or you will lose it – the rod will absorb the take and you won’t set the hook. Also watch your leader line and braided loop as you’re at the end of each cast – if it suddenly straightens, moves etc, STRIKE.
Check out these great blog posts for more hints and tips from top trout anglers.