When you’re swinging flies for steelhead or salmon, there are times when ‘the perfect swing’ doesn’t elicit the response you were hoping for.
We’ve all been there, right? Perhaps the presentation goes unnoticed through the bucket, or you feel the slightest hint of a grab, but no fish to follow. Your first thought might be to change flies to something of a different profile or color, or maybe even change up your depth by changing your sink tip. Before taking the time to mess with your tackle, try this tip first.
The next time you feel your swing through a prime lie should have yielded a fish, or feel that slight tug indicating that something was interested, don’t keep marching downstream with the same ‘cast and step’ tempo. Instead, take a couple of steps back upstream and a couple of steps further out towards the center of the river (if it is safe to do so), and make the same cast and mend as you did before.
By wading further out into the current, you reduce the distance between you and the lie, thus slowing down your swing. Many anglers forget this simple principle and instead attempt to slow their swing through mending and high-sticking alone, while your position in the river can yield the same result with fewer variables involved. Taking a couple steps back upstream and out will put your fly back in front of the fish with a slower presentation than before, maybe eliciting a response.
Your fly has to be in the water to catch fish, so it is important to change your presentations up before taking the time to re-rig. However, if you have exhausted your options by slowing down your swing, and he still doesn’t eat, then consider taking the time to change flies or depths.