When fishing mouse flies for hungry Alaskan rainbows, a typical presentation goes something like this – Cast at a slightly downstream angle above your target, raise your rod tip, wiggle your rod tip back and forth roughly 8 inches apart while at the same time slowly drawing in line with your line hand. This creates a realistic imitation of a mouse ferrying its way across the river, it works really well in our neck of the woods, until of course, it doesn’t..
Then what? Switch to a sculpin? Get down and dirty with some flesh and eggs? Not yet. Try dead drifting your mouse fly!
It’s hard to fish a mouse fly poorly on our river, and we’ve seen just about every presentation possible take trout at one time or another – skittered, swung, stripped, drowned, you name it. However, one presentation many of our anglers forget about is a traditional, drag free, dead drift.
Your fearless editor was reminded of this recently while sight fishing for our leopard rainbows on a bright sunny day (yes, it was as awesome as it sounds). On the first pass, the majority of fish in each lie came quickly to the typical ‘skittered’ mouse presentation. However, as more and more fish were caught, it didn’t take long to pick out the few (which often happened to be larger fish) that seemed uninterested in the offering.
Rather than take the time to change flies, rigs, etc., a simple presentation change was all that was needed. Cast well upstream of the lie, make a mend, allow the fly to drift naturally in the current until.. Glug. The fish would suck in the mouse fly as subtle as it might take a mayfly in the lower 48.
The moral of the story? A rodent is a big meal for a trout, often worth the energy expended to chase it. Change up your presentation before switching flies and you’re likely to bring more fish to hand.