Drag-Free Presentation Key to Trout Fishing

Drag-Free Presentation Key to Trout Fishing
Brown trout (Shutterstock image)

It takes a perfect presentation to the perfect lie to draw a bite while trout fishing. It's possible with tips and new gear —  like centerpin reels.

By Michael Pehanich

I flipped the spinner upstream. The current caught it quickly and swept it downstream.

Nothing.


Brown trout (Shutterstock image)


I then altered my casting angle, this time reaching a point slightly farther upstream. The added line length gave the spinner some breathing room, and it flashed enticingly as it swung past the current seam just beyond the undercut.

A big brown trout bolted out. It barely missed the lure and disappeared back into the cavern. I was dumbstruck, shocked to find a fish that size anywhere in that shallow stream, let alone in a pocket unreachable and practically invisible from anywhere but the place I stood.

I backed several feet downstream, anticipating the swing past the holding area. The third pitch was perfect, and, on cue, the big brownie raced out, hitting the spinner unerringly. The brown measured 19 1/2 inches and boasted deep colors and rich markings.

"Undercut banks create habitat where some of your bigger trout lie," said trout guide Ben Wolfe. "Those bigger trout are selective with regard to both their holding pattern and the pecking order in which they lie."


UNDERCUT BANKS

Undercut banks typically are adjacent to deep portions of a stream and outside bends in the river. Current erodes the soil and rock, carving out a cavity and leaving a portion of the bank with vegetation and root systems overhead. Pressure creates a back eddy, too, an area where fish don't have to work as hard.

They give a big fish everything he might need — concealment, protection from birds of prey and other predators, freedom to move, relief from the current and an ambush point. Food floats past as if on a natural conveyor belt. Though not all streams are blessed with an abundance of undercut banks, these stream lies are underutilized by trout anglers.


CENTERPIN TACKLE

Any trout-man worthy of his tackle knows success hinges on naturally presenting baits to the fish's holding position. That is, to deliver the bait at precisely the same velocity in the current that natural foods do.

Fly-fishermen target their casts not only with the thought of delivering their fly to a specific location but to do so in such a way that the fly line itself does not subvert the drift. In fact, the angler "mends" his cast with rod action to reduce the amount of current "drag" during the fly's drift to maintain the bait's natural movement in the current as long as possible.

Spin-fishermen hold rod tips high to allow as little line as possible to affect the natural drift of their bait. Their effectiveness, however, hangs on the length of drift permitted by the cast.

Centerpin reels resemble oversized fly reels. They are mounted on rods measuring 13 to 15 feet on average. The most distinctive trait of the reels is that they possess no mechanical drag. This enables the spool to spin freely and the bait to make a long drag-free drift.

The beautiful thing about centerpin fishing is that it's a truly drag-free way of presenting a bait. With centerpin presentation, line comes off the reel at the same rate as the current. Held high, the long rod keeps excess line off the water, allowing a long drag-free presentation of fly or bait no other tackle combination can match.

"Anything that helps you present a bait without drag offers tremendous advantage when you are stream-fishing for trout," said Scott Bermingham, a trophy-trout angler and rod builder. You can balance them perfectly to the specific reel by counter-balancing the butt cap with weights. It makes it easy and nearly effortless.

It's a very versatile technique. It allows you to cover a lot of the water column.

"And, for trout, you want your presentation as natural as possible," said guide Wolfe. "A bait floating at the same rate as the river current gets bit best."

Click to enlarge

Infographic by Ryan Kirby

MORE THAN ONE ANGLER IN THE BOAT

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).


DRAGONFLY NYMPHS

Dragonfly nymphs are an overlooked still-water bait. The 2-inch-long bugs hide in bottom silt and vegetation, and, due to their coloration and habit, often blend into the lake bottom. They can spend several years in the larval stage, so their camouflage can be pretty effective. Like the trout that feed on them year 'round, they can be gluttons themselves, feeding on leeches, mosquito larvae and even mayfly nymphs, tiny fry and baitfish.

The time-tested Woolly Bugger patterns make good dragonfly-nymph imitations. Matching the hatch calls for sizes 6 through 10 with a trimmed tail in the olive, green and brown colors that give them natural camouflage. Fish them near silt bottom and vegetation. A short darting retrieve should get the job done.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa

Costa's Award Winning Waterwoman Sunglasses

Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about all of the great features that made the new Waterwoman frame a big winner at the 2019 ICAST show as well as out on the water.

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

Mustad Skatter Shad Bladed Jig

As Mustad continues to expand into an all-around tackle company, Reid McKinstry shows off some innovative features that make the Mustad Skatter Shad bladed jig a winner in big bass waters.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing. Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record. Walleye

Record-Sized Walleye Was Foul-Hooked, Agency Says

G&F Online Staff

North Dakota Game & Fish Department said the 16-9 walleye doesn't qualify for record.

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

See More Trending Articles

More Other Freshwater

Target vegetation with inline spinners for summer's best musky bites. Fishing How-To

Weed Whackers: Bucktails for Big Muskies

Dr. Jason Halfen - May 28, 2020

Target vegetation with inline spinners for summer's best musky bites.

It's the fourth state fishing record of the year in the Show Me State. Other Freshwater

Bow Angler Sets Missouri White Sucker Record

Game & Fish Digital Staff - March 17, 2020

It's the fourth state fishing record of the year in the Show Me State.

There aren't many better ways to spend a summer night than skewering fish in the shallows. Playbook

Bowfishing from the Bank (Video)

Game & Fish Staff - June 24, 2020

There aren't many better ways to spend a summer night than skewering fish in the shallows.

The fish of 10,000 casts is a worthy adversary, and there are plenty of great spots to pursue it in the North Star State. Other Freshwater

Minnesota's Muskie Magic

Gary Korsgaden - June 24, 2019

The fish of 10,000 casts is a worthy adversary, and there are plenty of great spots to pursue...

See More Other Freshwater

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.