Splash a Cast
Let's be honest, most people don't or quit fly fishing because of casting. It's a pain until you've mastered your own cast. It's a pain learning that beadheads fly a lot differently than size 18 dries. It's a pain to spook every trout in the county, when flicking a super duper on an ultra lite drills him every time. It's a pain until one day it's not.
That's why most new or budding fly anglers should build confidence and their casting ability in the summer on a clear-water creek or neighborhood pond, not the first week of trout season. Bass and sunfish don't mind a few line lashes or a hopper coming in like a Randy Johnson fastball. In fact, a lot of times it's what draws a strike.
Trout are naturally spooky. Native, wild trout are even spookier. Fishing of any kind is a sport that needs accomplishment in order to gain confidence. Don't shoot down a double diamond when you've never worn skis before. Start on the circle runs.
Not all states have the luxury of warm water species willing to take an array of flies during the dog days of summer, so most people hit the local trout stream. Fortunately for Oklahomans, we have great year-round fishing for a multitude of species. No spring run-off or summer hoot owls. Just 365 fishing, with a bonus day snuck in every four years (that's leap year for those of you who don't make calendars).
Summer is not only great for casting, but gaining confidence in different bugs in your box. You can strip or swing flies, smash the surface with terrestrials, bone up on your mayfly hatches or watch a bobber (sorry, "strike indicator") with a nymph underneath it. You can't go wrong in summertime.
Let's do a quick breakdown of ways you can find success in the summer with warm water species that you can carry over to trout.
Dry flies are the easiest bugs to get you to the quintessential River Runs Through It tight loop cast. They're light, land soft and don't typically fight your casting rhythm. I recommend a size 14 rubber-legged stimulator. It's a great bug to pick up bass and sunfish in creeks and ponds. It's also a great bug for summertime trout if you ever take a trip out West. You will learn the rhythm of your cast with this bug and eventually you will be able to gain maximum amount of line and set the bug down without a ripple.
The great news is, until you've become a bug ninja, a splash here or splash there is only going to drive the panfish and bass crazy. So you learn other important skills such as hook-sets, getting fish to the reel and landing them with an 11-foot telephone pole in your hand and probably a net clipped carelessly somewhere on your back.
In creeks, you also can work on upriver mends and drag free drifts. But again, bass and sunfish will chase that bug when the downriver bow in your floating line puts señor stimulator on water skis. The point is, you will gain confidence while building your skill set. The mistakes made won't cost you fish in the same way they will with trout.
Remember, fly fishing is hard, but you will get there with practice and a positive attitude.
In much of the state, late summer yields some pretty epic mayfly numbers. If you spook up a field of the large-winged aviator, it's a good time to practice matching the hatch. Adams, Dun, BWO, Cahill, Drake, Zinger, don't forget the parachutes and cripples. Man, how many bugs are in this bug?
Other Recommended Dries
- Size 8-12 foam hoppers
- Size 2-10 dragon flies
- Size 1 Betts poppers
No need to get fancy with warm water nymphs. Pheasant tails, worms, eggs or flashy offerings like copper Johns, bloody Marys or lightning bugs will find you some fish. While you can run a solo size 14-18 nymph below a float on a pond or stream and get bit pretty regularly, it's a good time to work on a dropper bug.
Whether it's a dry dropper, dual small nymph or big nymph/small nymph, learning how to cast with multiple bugs without getting tangled or wind knots will vastly improve your fly fishing repertoire. It will also improve your knot tying skill as it can be tricky connecting line to the bend in the first bug's hook.
I believe knot tying is the single most important factor in fishing. Once you're confident in knots, it will open up the world of fishing. How many times have you made way too many casts with a bug you know isn't working only because you've chewed up your leader and dread the thought of tying on tippet with a blood knot? Knot tying is the most controllable variable in fishing and one that you should always be looking to master.
In a pond you can jig your nymphs (just like bobber jigging for crappie) by pulling one strip of line occasionally. In a stream, you can work on up river mends and drag free drifts as well as depth accuracy.
Other Recommended Nymphs
- Size 8-12 Stonefly nymphs (especially w/ rubber legs)
- Size 14-18 Rubber-legged Yellow Sally nymphs
- Size 16-22 flashback nymphs
My favorite of the bunch, beadhead and jighead fleshy flies meant to target the gnarliest carnivores. Woolly Buggers, Clouser Minnows and specialty articulated flies are all effective, especially in earth tone colors. Some purple flash never hurts.
Not quite as hard to cast as a two nymph and bobber rig, but these heavier flies will test your casting cadence. I think stripping and swinging flies is a great way to keep new and beginner anglers engaged in the sport. You're constantly casting or working the bug. Not too mention allowing your fly line to bow down river actually helps the presentation.
On a pond you can practice achieving maximum cast length while also working on your line stripping skills. Strikes often come during the pause, which teaches you how to watch the end of your fly line where it attaches to the leader to indicate a fish. The end of the fly line will twitch or best case scenario shoot away from you.
Other Recommended Stripping Flies
Regardless of your fly fishing abilities, summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. If you can improve your fishing skills a little bit along the way, even better!
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