Friday, February 3, 2012

Fly-Fishing Lessons Learned in 2011

I try to do this after each year, in hopes that I will remember SOME of what I thought I learned from each year's fishing adventures.

Here's some of the things I learned:

-Stream Trout.  I had never fly-fished for stream trout before.  I discovered that I really enjoy it.  Too bad the nearest trout streams are a 3-4 hour drive away, and there is so many other good places to catch fish that are much much closer.  Anyway, I learned at least one way to catch these fish.  I used a large nymph pattern and an indicator.  I fished pools, deeper slicks, and bank hides.  I look forward to doing this again in the future, and start exploring more streams.

-Carp Riddle Solved.  One behavior of local river carp that had perplexed a handful of local fly-anglers is when carp will line up along the shoreline or current break just beneath the surface.  They often appear to be snacking on nothing, or maybe the foam that is floating on the surface.  A variety of techniques were unsuccessfully tried on these fish.  I decided to try fishing a nymph extremely shallow beneath an indicator to these fish.  The belief was that the indicator would scare the fish away.  Carp are pretty smart and wily, after all.  Turns out it worked just fine.  I'd fish the nymph just 8" to 18" beneath the indicator.  I tried a variety of wet fly patterns, and all worked.  I used a Thingamabobber, which is translucent like the foam on the water.  After losing several fish to lines that broke at the Thingamabobber, I've decided to try a different style of indicator.  I'm certain it will still work.

-Channel Catfish/Bread  Connection.  While attempting to improve my success with flyfishing for Grass Carp, I discovered that chumming with bread in the local ponds during the summer can be effective in bringing the catfish to you.  Once they are nearby and feeding, you can often (but not always) be successful in enticing the catfish to hit artificial "bread flies" or white streamers.

-Channel Catfish and Streamers.  I discovered that the "Jumpin' Catfish Nymph" works for catfish.  I also learned that white streamers are very effective for Channel Catfish.  I used white hair streamers in two situations...the "bread" situation in ponds that I discussed above...and when the catfish are chasing shad in a large local reservoir.  I can't say it was the MOST effective method of catching these fish, but it DID catch some, and it was F-U-N!!!

-Walleye on Flies.  Catching a walleye on flies was a goal of mine this year.  I figured my best chance was during our fishing trip to Canada in the late Spring.  Before I could get there, I "lucked" into one in Iowa while fishing a lake for sunfish from my kayak.  I did end up catching something like 5 or 6 on flies while in Canada, both nymphs and streamers.  And then I caught another one in a local river here in Iowa in the late Fall.  How cool!

-Smallmouth on Poppers.  I FINALLY tried fly-fishing a central Iowa stream for smallmouth bass.  I'd caught smallies on fly gear before on a stream in Illinois, but hadn't really tried it since moving back to Iowa.  So I went, during the middle of the afternoon of the hottest week of the summer, and the river level was about as low as it gets.  I tried Clousers, nymphs and streamers.  I worked at it pretty hard and landed a couple of fish, but it was TOUGH.  I decided to try a popper.  First cast had barely hit the water before I had a fish hooked.  It worked really well, and I caught several more fish on it. And of course watching fish crush topwaters is always exciting!

-Stocker Trout.  Weeks after the trout had been stocked in a local lake, typically the trout get hard to catch.  I took a day off work and tried to see what I could get to bite.  I had solicited suggestions on my favorite fly-fishing website.  One suggestion was to try the "Blue Thunder" streamer.  I tried a few other patterns first with less than satisfactory results, then tried this streamer.  It worked GREAT!  I've used it a few times since, and it can be hit-or-miss...but it is certainly worth trying, and plus its a fairly easy and good-looking streamer to tie.

I also caught my first stocker Brook Trout, and learned that I REALLY like these fish!  Its not that they are much different than catching a rainbow trout...but they are a Char, rather than a trout, historically native to Iowa, and such a colorful fish.


  1. Dave
    My favorites here are the catfish, smallies and brookies. I have caught catfish on the fly and they are a hoot. Thanks for sharing

  2. Indeed, Bill! Catfish are a definite HOOT on fly gear! I targeted them specifically a bit more this year. But much of the time I still catch them accidentally while fishing for crappies & bluegills. I'm always VERY happy to have one on the end of my line!

  3. Great site, glad I bumped into it. I was really impressed with your tying skills. Just out of curiosity would you ever consider selling a few of your jumping catfish flies. I would be willing to buy a dozen and pay for shipping. Email me at if your interested.

  4. I added your blog to my link list on "The Rogue Outdoors" again thank you for all your help.

  5. Good tips Dave, I wasn't aware of Thingamabobbers breaking fish off but I only use them for trout, nothing big like carp. JGR

  6. @Atlas: Thanks for the compliments! I enjoy your blog as well! Be watching your mail this week! :)

    @JGR: I've used Thingamabobbers for trout and crappies/bluegills. I also never had a problem with line breakage until I used them for carp. The strain a carp puts on the line is significantly more, and it must rub the line against the sharp edges of the Thingamabobber eyelet. This happened to me on each of 3 consecutive carp hook-ups, and each time I retied with fresh 10lb tippet and a new Thingamabobber. I checked for sharp edges and never detected any, but the line was always a clean cut at the indicator. I've switched to the "football" style indicators with the latex tubing inserts that grip the line. These seem to have solved my problem.

  7. I enjoy your blog as well!These stuffs are amazing and gives us a so rich look great time with fishing..

  8. Got so much from your awesome blog:-) More power to you!

  9. Thanks Barramundi!

    @Alaska Kind Salmon Fishing: Your website is intriguing. I'm really wanting to make my way up to Alaska and chase salmon, trout, char and grayling with fly gear one of these days!