Trout Fishing: Stack the Decks in Your Favor

Trout Fishing: Stack the Decks in Your Favor
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Love catching cutts, 'bows and browns? We've got tips and gear to improve your trout fishing with flies, lures and bait.

By David Paul Williams

TROUT often live in water where weeds abound. Sometimes it seems that every hooked trout has learned the best way to escape is to barrel headfirst into the nearest weedbed. When that happens, resist the impulse to try to horse the fish back out. The most likely result will be breaking off the fish and losing the lure or fly. That's frustrating and quickly gets expensive.

Instead try a more gentle approach. Position the boat, or wade, as close as possible to where the fish entered the weeds. Grasp the line and gently pull straight up, cleaning off as many of the weeds as possible, keeping slight but firm pressure on the line. If you see the fish, then it's possible to net it, weeds and all.

Other times, if the water is shallow, you can prod the fish back out of the weeds by poking with your foot, an oar or a long-handled net. Don't hit the line, and don't poke it with a rod because you'll likely break the rod tip.

Success at landing the fish improves if the fisherman can prevent that first mad dash towards safe haven.

If you are fishing near the surface on a short line, when the fish takes the fly, lure or bait, immediately raise the rod high, arms up straight, and reel or strip in as fast as possible. The goal is to get the fish's head up and moving along the water and over the top of any weedbeds. It's possible to quickly slide a fish along the top of floating weed mats right into a waiting landing net. The key is being able to get control of the head before the fish has a chance to dive.

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Infographic by Ryan Kirby


There is an easy way to keep all the lines from tangling. The stern angler (1) waits for the bow angler (2) to cast, and then casts just behind him. This makes things more difficult for the stern angler because he has to keep an eye on the bow angler's casts, which may come fast and furious, especially on a fast river. But it's the best way to hit undercuts and blowdowns (D), trout holding behind rocks (C), those in front (B) and in weeds (A).


Your best fishing buddy just scored a new drift boat and invited you and another fisherman for the maiden voyage. Sounds great. Then, since you are a walk- and wade-fisherman, you wonder how three people can fish out of a boat without tangling lines and stoking tempers.

The remedy for avoiding tangled lines and broken rod tips caused by intersecting rods and lines is simple: Don't cast at the same time. In a moving boat, the front angler will typically have his back to the rest of the boat. The rear angler can see when the front angler is getting ready to cast or is false-casting in preparation of laying the line down. The rear angler should delay his cast until his line's in the water. The rear angler needs to have a split-screen of attention — one screen watching the guy in front, the other watching for likely fishing spots and rising trout. Problems arise if the bow angler lays out a cast and then quickly recasts without warning. Stay alert!

The solution then is for both fishermen to use the same casting angle, roughly 45 to 60 degrees in relation to the boat's center line. That way both rods when casting travel in the same plane.

There's more to a lifetime stream than big fish — but big fish are often part of the best memories.

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