Sight fishing for trout can be a fun way to catch them. It can also be an easy way since what you are seeing is trout actively feeding. The two easiest ways to sight fish are to be looking for rises and looking for trout to be feeding on the bottom of the stream.
To gain a better understanding of the rises that trout perform to feed, we simply need to examine the type of rise. There are mainly three types of rises without getting over complicated. These are the sip rise, head to tail rise and splashy rise. These three types are the ones trout will use to take a floating insect from the surface, from just underneath the surface and above the surface.
The sip and head to tail rise will form dimple rings on the surface of the water as long as the current isn’t too strong. The dimple rings are left behind where the trout slightly broke the surface of the water for the sip. You may not see the trout at all, but the rings are left as evidence. Head to tail is where the trout breaks the surface with his head first, you might see his dorsal fin and then finally the tail. This rise is a little more forceful and many times will leave a greater disturbance than the sip rise. Lastly, the splashy rise is where the trout completely clears the water and is usually catching an insect that is laying or depositing its eggs on the water.
The sip rise means trout are probably surface feeding on mayflies or possibly stoneflies. The head to tail rise means trout are probably subsurface feeding on insects in the surface film like a mayfly, ant or grasshopper or maybe a nymph struggle to get to the surface. The splashy rise means trout are without a doubt feeding on insects above the surface like a caddis that is laying its eggs.
With a good pair of polarized sunglasses, another common way to easily spot trout feeding on the bottom of a stream is to watch for the silver flash or possibly tailing. When trout take nymphs off the bottom, they will turn sideways to get their mouth into a proper position to take the insect. This is where to silver flash comes from. Tailing is when a trout has its tail protruding toward the water’s surface. They do this to dig or root the bottom’s surface for immature insects, grubs, etc. You will more than likely not see their tail sticking up out of the water like a redfish. But, in a trout’s world, anything is possible.
Some common mistakes to avoid:
Do not cast to the rise. Trout will leave their lie to examine an insect (your fly) and actually float downstream with the insect before the rise. They may examine the insect for the distance of a foot, five feet, etc. After the trout rises, it will move back upstream to its lie. If you cast to the rise, there’s a good chance that trout has already moved upstream and will have never seen your offering.
Do not cast to a trout displaying a silver side unless you have your fly at the correct depth. Remember, that fish is looking down at the bottom. If you fly isn’t on the bottom, it will never be seen.
If you are wanting to try fly fishing for the first time, want the watchful eye of a casting instructor to help improve your casting, or just unsure of what you may be doing, we have several guides that teach the “Art of Fly Fishing”, entomology, stream reading, etc. We are a full time fly fishing guide service with professional guides from across North Georgia. So, what are you waiting for, Give Us a Call, We’ll Hook You Up!
Reel ‘Em In Guide Service is an Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide based out of beautiful Ellijay, Georgia. They have been offering their services to fly anglers since 2001. Their Special Use Permit for Guiding allows them on the Chattahoochee National Forest, they have licensed guides for North Carolina, offer over 7 miles of private trophy waters across Georgia, and offer drift boat trips on the Toccoa River and the Tuckasegee River in NC.
Contributed By: James Bradley
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