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Fly Fishing Tactics and Strategies

The cast with the flyrod belongs the most important preconditions for success at the fishwater. But without the knowledge about the feeding behavior and the techniques depending on it the good fly caster can’t exhaust his abilities.

Fishing Dry Flies

Even Charles Ritz (experienced fly fishing) knew that the bite on a dry fly depends to 85% of the presentation of the fly and only 15% of the sample (the ratio changes with wet flies. In particular, fishing for salmon the flypatterns is more important! ). The full charm of fishing with dry flies opens up only the good flycaster, because the presentation depends most on the quality of the caster.  A good presentation is in particular:

  1. bring the flyline out with only a few falsecasts the desired length
  2. accurately placement of the fly
  3. place the fly up “natural” (this means tender).
  4. the furrows of the fly (dregging) is as long as possible to prevent

The presentation of dry flies varies somewhat with the fish that is caught.

  1. The trout: here, all casts at the rising fish have to succeed at, because the trout – especially the larger specimens – careworn otherwise.  I myself try with 3 – 5 casts to hook the fish, bevor I rest or cast to another fish. The first one or two casts I set the fly, based on the direction of water flow, good before the ring an let the fly swim dregfree over the ring. With the next one or two casts I reduce the distance to the ring, the last cast I place on the ring. With each throw the bite opportunities dwindle disproportionately. Better to wait until the fish has risen once again and then repeats the procedure described.
  2. The grayling: the grayling forgive times of a bad throw, so that they can be fired up again. It always rises from the ground after the dry and receives only food of a very small area. For this reason the dry fly must , based on the direction of water flow, placed as far from the ring and must be centered, that it can absolutely dreggfree drifted to the ring.

GeradeJust bigger fish like to rise in a certain rythm. It then has little sense to offer in the trail breaks the fly. In such a case can lead to success in serving the fly at the right time. This is measured from the time the trail breaks and served the dry fly when the next staircase is to be expected.  Me, this tactic gave me some good fishes,  especially in the difficult passages of quiet river.

For me fishing with dry flies is the supreme discipline of our passion, because it represents the greatest challenge to the fisherman. There is nothing more exciting than the expected byte on the dry fly.

Fishing Wet Flies

Stand of the fish

Especially when fishing with wet flies, the knowledge about the stand of the fish is important. Because the fish doesn’t show itself on the surface, the fisherman has to locate it. A good stand especially in rivers or streams is found, if the following circumstances are true:

  • does it offer enough protection /coverage ?
  • does the fish need only a little energy /effort to stay there ?
  • is there food above average coming along ?


The nymph plays her best advantage of when, deep down, most directly on the ground, fished. On the one hand the low-lying fish usually bite only on the nymph, on the other hand the nymph is often taken if and when it is lifted up for the next roll again (“rising”). I fish the nymph mainly with two different methods

a1) Active: On the extremely fast sinking sinktipp flyline with a short, about 60 cm long leader.  The nymph is fished in touch and caught up with short jerky movements. This method is also excellent for fishing with streamers.

a2) Passive (“dead drift”): With floating “bite alarm” and a long leader, and I often leave out the bite alarm.  The leader must be about twice as long as the depth to the fishing spot. This requires a lengh of the leader which lays usually around 4 m. It is advisable, to fix a lead shot in front of the fly. The fly is cast upstream diagonally across the area you want to fish for myself and abortion in the dead drift left.  Immediately after dropping a small “S” is casted between the end of the flyline and nymph Between the “bite indicator” and the nymph, however, must be curious about the rig – which will be achieved independently in almost all flow conditions, this type installation. Once the “bite alarm” stops a quick, short start must set. This method is very successful – if the first attempt come fast enough!  The disadvantages are that on the one hand, the “casting feeling” and the throw is worse and the other hand its hard to avoid hanging. Because of the long leader, this method is only with long fly rods (9 feet and longer) practiced fairly comfortable.


When fishing with a streamer, the movement is essential. Many books and videos, an equal and regular movement of the streamer is described and shown, which varies most in the warping. My experience with the streamers are obviously against this type of movement.  The most success I had won, as I striped the streamer in totally devoid of any continuity during, a time very slowly, suddenly, two quick strips, then a slight jolt, then slowly, a strip … so as a linearly comes to mind.  The main thing is not a regular movement.  Or has anyone ever seen a little fish – especially when it feels danger – float away slowly and quietly? In my experience, it is the widely varying movement of the streamer which would push the fish to bite. Perhaps because the streamer better imitates fleeing prey or a sick fish.

It is also important to offer the Streamer at the depth the fish stand. And this is usually deeper, so that a streamer mounted on the sinking fly line is best (or use my ‘bulbs’ instead of the sinking fly lin!). The feeding fish attacs actively, however a “front of the mouth” guided streamers is always an advantage. Because the streamer is fished with line contact, it is important to cast it stretched out to the water.

Fly Fishing for Coastal Sea Trout

With the coastal sea trout fishing I got in contact in the early 2000s. The first results were very modest and I needed some time to be persuaded of my fishing friends to accompany them to the coast. The wideness of the coast and the relatively short casts with the flyfishing tackle damped my confidence of catching a fish. But perseverance paid off and with my increasing experience my catches increased considerably. Today I can not think away my fishing for sea trout.

The sea trout runs along the coastline in order to search food. It is up to find the sea trout during this search. It helps, especially if attention is paid to the following:

• Water temperature

• Underground (“Leopard underground”)

• Food animals on the coastline

• Wind direction

The water temperature plays a significant role. From the late autumn to spring places should be selected, that have a higher than average temperature. In the summer it is reversed. As a result in the summer should be fished rather in the colder evening hours, and from autumn to spring more in the warmer time of the midday. Varied coastlines with bays offer the sea trout the possibility to adjust according to conditions. Especially bays often have a slightly higher water temperature and a higher proportion of fresh water than the open sea, which is why the sea likes to stay there during spring and autumn. Another indication of a promising place is, if food animal (shrimps, mysids, fish) are detected in the lower water.

An advantage is a slightly turbulent sea. The movement of water provides the animal food less hiding, so the sea trout will be there more often. In addition it reduces their shy. I like the wind a bit inclined on-or offshore, because it causes enough watermotion and allows a comfortable flycasting. If the wind blows only partially on the rod hand side, I turn to the bank and use the backcast to get the flyline out. In absolute calm sea my friends and I recorded much less success.

The wind has a decisive impact on whether surface and deeper water could exchange. In the spring the deeper water is rather cold and the sea trout prefers the warmer surface water. An onshore wind brings warmer surface water near the bank and with this the sea trout. In the summer the surface water has been heated so much that the sea trout prefer the deeper water, which is cooler now. Then an offshore wind has advantages, because it pushes the warm water away from the bank, so that cooler water can flow from the bottom. If the first colder weather period in the autumn has cooled down the surface water, it possesses the preferred temperature of the sea trout and an onshore wind is again an advantage. In the winter deeper water stores some left heat that supports the metabolism of the sea trout, which reaches the bank with offshore winds. Water temperatures above 18 degrees are shunned by the sea trout.

The colder the water temperature, the more colorful was the fly should be and should be moved slowly. A shrimp imitation is often my first choice for me, if I discover no food animals . From the foregoing, the following recommendations are for the choice of fishing spot:

a) In the colder season: a high proportion of fresh water, dark background, bays and inlets, shallower water, rather fishing during the day, colorful flies.

b) In the warmer season: open coast or fairways, deeper and more fluidrich water close to bank, rather fishing during the night, flies with a high imitation value.

c) wind direction: summer and winter offshore (seaward), spring and autumn onshore.

Fishing for sea trout is similar to the streamerfishing, so the fisherman has to pay attention on a straight unrolled cast. Better a little shorter cast with a streached leader than a longer one with an unstretched, curly leader !

Fly Fishing for Salmon

Since my childhood I have known the very experienced salmon fishermen Rudolf ‘Rudi’ Masurat who has fished the famous salmon rivers of Sweden and Norway. With him I was a few times on the Gaula in order to flyfish for salmon and from his experiences on the salmon fisheries I had benefit a lot.

The salmon are also for experienced fishermen often an enigma. One finds hardly two salmon fishermen who swear by the same fly patterns – and yet both are equally successful. Not coincidentally, the range of all salmon fly patterns is so great. But there are also common views, for most of salmon fishermen choose the salmonfly of factors like water level, water temperature and water color:

  • The colder the water and above the water level, the greater the fly and the deeper and slower the presentation
  • The color of the salmonfly is selected by the “color” of the water. In bright sunshine choose bright flies (e.g. Gerry), at twilight rather dark.
  • The turbid water, the more colorful the salmonfly

An elongated leader is very important, because on one hand the fly only begins to fish when she is under train and can be seen immediately the the other hand of the salmon when the fly already dipping. A fly that does not show their appeal immediately after dipping, is in the opinion of most salmon fishing more often disdained by the salmon.

It is particularly important to know where the salmon in the river pulls and locks. Because this is very dependent on the water levels, the flyfisherman must look at the current  of the water very accurately. Basically the salmon behaves like any other fish in the river (see “Stand of the fish” above), but with an important exception: the salmon chooses his stand not on the food stocks, since he do no longer feed during his way up in the river. So on the one hand his need for shelter / cover and on the other hand the small amount of energy are left. In general, the flow edges always are good points, especially the inner curve of pages.

The changing water level also has a major influence whether the salmon take the fly or not. Rain for example increases the water level and many salmon who are standing in the mouth of the river start there trip. If the water level are about to fall, the salmon often are willing to take the fly. It is important to determine the time water achieves its highest waterlevel (“peak”) and then to fish intensive with the falling water level!

The following of the above rules brought me some nice salmon, also my biggest salmon. Should the rules sometimes not work, then a conscious deviation from the rules can give success. Here I first mean a change in the movement of the salmon fly, that some salmon may suddenly tempted to bite. Ultimately helps the most stamina. The most successful are the most salmon fishermen that fish persevering and get by with as few casts as possible space. Only fly in the water can catch – that was always the advice of Rudi in times when nothing was on the water.

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