Streams Outside of Yellowstone National Park
.............................Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park


Henry's Fork of the Snake River - Part Five

Dry Flies for Surface Feeding Fish:
Spring Creeks allow you to easily see trout feeding on the surface. At some time during
the day, on most any day, you most likely will be able to find them feeding on the
surface. Instead of casting your fly in broken water and hoping a trout is there, you can
find them in Spring Creeks like the Henry's Fork.

When a trout is feeding on the surface, he is focused on watching a very small space
in the drift line. He or she cannot see objects at a distance. Their window of sight is
very small. This allows someone who approaches the trout to get fairly close, within
twenty or thirty feet, if they can do so without disturbing gravel and rocks on the bottom
when wading or stumbling around on the bank. Moving slow is also a big key. Trout are
not nearly as apt to spot someone moving very slowly in their peripheral vision as they
are someone that is moving fast. You want to get as close to the trout as possible
without spooking it. You want your first cast to drift down its feeding lane in time with
the rise.

Usually trout that are feeding on hatching insects on the surface come up from their
holding positions two, three or four times and then return to their holding position. You
have to time your cast so that the fly is in the feeding lane when the trout rises again to
eat. The best way to do this is watch the fish for a few times. Don't rush, try to get a
rhythm for the frequency the trout is rising to the surface.

It is often difficult to get a drag free drift in the feeding lane, especially If the current is
swirling upstream of the fish. Your first cast is the most important. That is why you want
as close to the fish as possible. You want to avoid false cast over the fish. Each time
you fail to get the fly drifting drag free in the feeding lane at the time the trout rises to
eat without hooking, it you lower your chances of catching it. Soon, if you don't spook
the trout badly, it will continue to eat and ignore your fly. That is when you begin to
wonder whether or not your fly is matching what the trout is eating. Often, anglers
change flies when this happens and still gets the same results. Most of the time, it was
the presentation that turned the trout off. It takes both things to work. It takes a good
presentation and it takes a fly that matches the insects the trout is feeding on. I will get
into that latter. Now I am strictly taking about finding a trout that is feeding, approaching
it and making a good presentation.

Most of the time, I use a downstream approach or presentation. Not always but most
often. Sometimes the conditions are not suitable for a downstream approach. You may
first spot the trout feeding that is just upstream of your position wading and
repositioning will more likely spook the trout, for example. It could also rise immediately
to your left or right and you would need to be able to make a presentation without
continuing to wade, taking a chance on spooking the trout. You need to know how to
make good presentations in all directions regarding current.

If done correctly, a downstream approach gives you the advantage of the trout seeing
the fly first, before it sees the tippet, leader or fly line.  I prefer slightly down and
across. If you cast directly downstream, and the trout doesn't take the fly, your leader
will pass directly over the fish. If you don't recast soon, the line will pass over the fish. If
you recast too soon, you may spook the trout picking the line up off the water. If you
cast slightly down and across, you can let the fly pass over the fish, and if it doesn't
take the fly, allow it to get well below the trout before recasting. I will continue with this

Copyright 2008 James Marsh     
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