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Home / Susan Thrasher / Why Am I Not Catching Fish? 6 Ways to Improve Your Hook Ups

Why Am I Not Catching Fish? 6 Ways to Improve Your Hook Ups

August 18, 2015
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Have you ever been in the river, looking around at all the others who are catching fish, and you haven’t had a bump all day? Or, you read the on-line posts after your own weekend “goose egg,” and all the reports from others read, “we slammed them all day!” All the while you are thinking, “what can I possibly be doing wrong?”

I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. It’s disheartening and very discouraging. But take heart. There are a few slight adjustments that you can make that are sure to lift your spirits.

Adjustment 1: Get a Little Clearer

When selecting leader and tippet material, monofilament is the most economical choice. However, investing a bit more in fluorocarbon will give you the added stealth that may often be necessary for wary trout. Fluorocarbon is extremely clear and almost invisible to fish. You may want to spend a few extra dollars to gain this advantage.

Adjustment 2: Depth Matters

Although fishing top water with dry flies is exciting, it isn’t always productive. Studies show that fish feed subsurface 90% of the time. When fishing below a strike indicator, you will need to vary the depth to determine where the fish are feeding in the water column. Don’t shy away from long leaders at depths that bounce flies along the bottom. We all get lazy, and yes, it takes time to adjust the indicator over and over, but if you have the patience to tie and retie, it will result in more frequent hook ups. The more you tie, the more nimble your fingers will become, so keep practicing those knots.

Adjustment 3: The Perfect Drift

A well-presented fly will land on the water and float just like a natural insect. If you cast your line into the water and the current takes over, dragging your fly through the water like a water skier, your chances of fooling a fish will be greatly diminished. There are a couple of things you can work on to get a drag free drift. If you are fishing under an indicator, in most cases you will want the indicator to go down river first. You can accomplish this by lifting your line off of the water and gently tossing it upstream of the indicator. This will cause the flies to float naturally instead of being pulled through the current. The other option is with an aerial mend, most easily accomplished with a reach cast. Practice obtaining the perfect drift, and you will see the positive results.

Adjustment 4: Change the Menu

We all have our favorite “go to” flies and have confidence that these flies will catch fish since they have worked before. I am a big fan of fishing with these flies because I have the confidence in them. However, there are times when the fish just aren’t interested in what’s being served, and you need to change it up. Try a different pattern, size, or color fly. Your favorite technique may be nymph fishing, but don’t shy away from throwing a streamer or swinging a wet fly.   In addition to landing a few more fish, you may come away with a few more favorite flies.

Adjustment 5: Move It

If you go to your favorite spot and the fish aren’t cooperating, you may have to wade farther up or down stream to find the fish. Another angler may have been in your spot prior to your arrival, leaving the fish tight lipped. Or, a heron or eagle may have been feeding in the area. Covering a wide area throughout the day often is the key to finding the fish.

Adjustment 6: Check Your Flies

How many times have you cast your fly numerous times, only to check your fly and find there’s nothing there? As my good friend Nonie would say, “I’ve been fishing on credit for the last half hour.” Check your flies often to be sure they haven’t snapped off, or that you don’t have a dangling piece of thread or moss. Perhaps you are somehow snarled in a tangled knot mess. The fish can spot these imperfections a mile away.

Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of a few small adjustments to improve your fish catching success rate. So, the next time you are having a challenging day, remember these six tips and give them a try. I think you’ll find your luck and spirits will change for the better.

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About Susan

Susan Thrasher

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My Bio

Susan Thrasher, an FFF certified instructor, is the owner and operator of Southern Brookies Fly Fishing in Lancaster, Tennessee. For over a decade her teaching passion has extended into leading Casting for Recovery in Middle Tennessee and as a staff instructor at the Joan Wulff School of Fly Fishing in the New York Catskills.  In 2007, Susan and Nikki Mitchell founded the Music City Fly Girls, a Nashville based women's fly fishing club with over 40 active members.