Always Look Under Rocks

April 18, 2012


fly fishing bugs under rocksI don’t know why but lately I have wanted to share a few tips that I have learned over the years. Last week I wrote about using a longer tippet and this week I want to briefly talk about the bugs in the river. I have fly fished for over 20 years, avidly doing it for about 15. I have learned on my own and from others during this time. Like most things you learn in life you figure out what works for you, fine tune it and implement it. One thing with fly fishing I have tried to implement is being familiar with the type of bugs in each river that I fish. I will almost always when I walk into a river take a few minutes look around and what might be floating around on the top of the water, in the air and then grab few rocks to see what is actually in the water.

I can remember one occasion when fishing the Madison River in Montana a few years ago.  We were having a good day landing a few fish here and there.  After releasing a fish I decided to reach down and grab a few rocks to see what was going on at the bottom of the river.  I noticed a handful of caddis flies out of their shucks.  I saw the green body and gauged the size.  Right after that I matched it to a pattern I had in my box and proceeded to catch about 15 fish in about 45 min.  That was one of a few times that exploring the rocks even half way through the fishing day was a huge help.

I have been told that %80 of what a trout eats is on the bottom of the river. I am sure if that number is off it isn’t off by much.  But for that reason I always want to know what is under the rocks. If I can I will look under the rocks in the slower skinny water and also the deeper faster water. I always notice a more abundance of bugs in the swifter water and the types of bugs stays consistent between the slower and swifter water. I will try and make mental notes of the type of bugs I see most often at which times of the year. Over the years I pretty much know that bugs in the rivers I frequent the most but I still will look under rocks, not only because I have made it habit but because I like learning and always to want to see if notice a change in the bugs.  You should always, when fishing a new river, look under the rocks.

One thing I have noticed over the years is the increase of Scuds on the Middle Provo River. I am not smart enough to understand why I have seen an increase but when I look I always see more and more.  One of the last things I have noticed is that for the most part you will find the same type of insects in the whole river but it isn’t uncommon with long running rivers to see different types in different sections.

fly fishing bugs under rocks

fly fishing bugs under rocks



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One Response to “Always Look Under Rocks”

  1. Fredo Says:

    Thanks for sharing this tip. I know I’ve fallen prey to the thinking “these fish should be hitting this fly”, when I should have just taken a moment to see what’s under the water. Keep the tips coming!


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