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The first step to successful fly fishing isn‘t fishing at all. It entails taking in your surroundings and observing the area for just a little while. Take 15 minutes or so to just watch and see if you can observe what the fish are doing.
Look at the bugs that are flying around. Look for evidence of a recent fly hatching that will provide a yummy treat for the trout that are in the water. Where the bugs are is probably where the fish are.
Take a look at grass stems and weeds near the shore line for clues of a recent hatch. Stonefly nymphs crawl out of the water to hatch into adults. This transformation occurs on weeds, grass, rocks and anything else handy near the shore line. Are their cases present anywhere? Mayflies molt after they hatch. This also occurs on grass and weeds. Can you find any clues of a recent mayfly hatch?
While you look for clues of a recent hatch, see if any aquatic insects are crawling around on nearby bushes. Streamside brush is a great hangout for aquatic insects that have recently hatched and are waiting their turn in the egg lying cycle. If you see a lot of a certain kind of insect hanging around the brush, you can bet on patterns that imitate that insect when you get to the stream.
Spider webs are a great place to look for clues. Spiders make a habit of catching insects that fly around their web. If the web is loaded with unfortunate mayflies, the fish are probably loaded with them too. Here‘s a perfect opportunity to match the size, shape and color of the fly without trying to catch one on the water.
What are the fish doing? Are they rising to flies, and can you see the fly they‘re eating? If you don‘t see rising fish, it‘s not very likely that they‘ll eat a fly floating on the surface. If you don‘t see them rising, a nymph might be in order. After all, nymphs are available to them all of the time.
Is there a cloud of caddis flies hovering above streamside brush? Caddis flies are a common sight in the summer hovering above willows and brush. If you see something that looks like a cloud of tiny moths dancing around a streamside willow, grab your box of caddis imitations and start flogging the water with one, you‘ve just solved a mystery.
Fish have three basic needs: food, cover, and a resting place. There are other variations of those, such as fish looking for warmer water in the spring when the water is uncomfortably cold — or cooler water in summer when water temperatures rise.