Ever had those days, where fish have been extremely finicky? Where they merely tap the fly instead of committing to a full bloodied take. Well in this article, we will give you 10 tips that will help you convert those taps into takes.

Rainbow trout

1 TRY A SUPER-SLOW, NEAR STATIC RETRIEVE

During the summer months trout may not wish to chase, so keep the fly in the taking zone for as long as possible by employing a very slow figure-of eight retrieve.

2 USE AN INDICATOR

Sometimes even a super-slow retrieve may be ignored in which case it might be time to indulge in the ‘controversial’ use of indicators. Love them or loathe them this tactic places your fly in the taking zone for long periods of time and allows for very precise depth control.

3 LOWER LEADER DIAMETER

In virtually all circumstances I’d recommend fluorocarbon to reduce flash and go for the lowest breaking strain you dare use. This may require the use of a softer rod to reduce the risk of broken leaders during the take and in play, but this kind of attention to detail puts cagey fish on the bank. Try a lower diameter tippet material that lays down softly, turning flies over perfectly for presentation that don’t spook line-shy fish.

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A Quality Fluorocarbon Tippet Will Provide A Strong Low Diameter And Supple Leader Material

4 WATCH THE LOOP AND/OR LINE

A short-taking trout may be felt as a sharp pull or the merest tightening of line, but this is often too late! Concentrate carefully on the loop of line between rod tip and the water’s surface using it in a similar way to a coarse angler’s swing-tip. The take may not be so obvious as those experienced by our coarse fish-catching friends, but the slightest movement should be met with a firm lift and a very surprised trout.

5 GREASE THE LEADER

Using a mixture of the techniques described here, grease a leader to within a few feet of a fly such as a Buzzer or Damsel, depending on the depth required. Cast out and slowly retrieve, adding the odd twitch or draw. If this addition to the retrieve doesn’t induce a solid take, watch the greased leader carefully for any sign of it suddenly sinking, shimmering or darting (especially just after a change in retrieve speed) and lift/ strike to set the hook. This is a great tactic for flat calm conditions.

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Greasing Your Leader Could Be The Change Required To Induce A Take

6 HANG OUT THE WASHING

A great all-round tactic, washing line techniques are a deadly way to catch trout in many conditions but especially when they’re prone to short taking. Fish a FAB or Booby on the point of a 15-foot leader with a couple of Diawl Bachs spaced at five-foot intervals in the dropper positions. Use any current available to drift the team of flies enticingly, experimenting with the size of the buoyant pattern and nymphs to alter depth. Even short takers often fall for this tactic with those rod-wrenching ‘lock-up takes’ we all know and love.

diagram washing

7 TRIM YOUR TAIL

It’s well known that a long, highly-mobile tail attracts fish, but if those fish are short takers, with a lethargic attitude to feeding, then you may experience lots of nips with a low or non-existent conversion rate. Carefully pinch small amounts from the tail until the correct length is found, although it’s possible that this action may reduce the fly’s effectiveness. In hard conditions, when the fish refuse to take properly, it pays to experiment like this; what have you got to lose?

trim a fly

Trimming The Tail Of A Fly By Pinching It With Your Thumb And Forefinger, Will Convert Those Tail Nippers Into Confident Takes

8 GET THEM ON THE DROP

There are a few patterns that could be used for this tactic, but my favourite is the Blob, especially in Black, Sunburst, Coral and Tequila. Tie onto a long leader, positioning the fly well away from the fly line and, prior to casting, dip the Blob into the water, giving it a generous squeeze (or three) to dispel the air. Cast the saturated Blob out and maintain faint contact with the fly line, taking up nothing more than slack as it develops. If possible, try this at a clearwater fishery where fish can be located by sight and observe how the fish behave towards the free-falling Blob. Even stock which are playing hard to get are often overcome by curiosity, sucking the fly in to see what it is and no doubt rekindling an old feeding instinct from the holding ponds in which they were reared on pellets.

9 GO DRY!

Dries are best fished static and can be used within a team or as a single fly. CDC emergers, a small Bob’s Bits or Hopper-style patterns can drag fish up to feed, especially in clear water and once they’ve committed to the fly there is next to no chance of a short take. If you experience swirls and refusals check that your leader is degreased and reduce the size of the fly.

10 DON’T GIVE THEM TIME TO THINK

Try a fast retrieve and don’t stop! In contrast to the very first tip, I’ve sometimes found that the best way to fool the short takers is to fish the fly fast and don’t give the trout the opportunity to think. Once in pursuit a mixture of competitiveness with other fish, curiosity and the desire to capture prey will take over and lead to a positive take. If you cannot see the fish in pursuit but feel several taps, don’t stop, keep retrieving at the same speed for as long as possible and wait until the line locks-up! Good patterns for this tactic include Snakes fished with a roly-poly retrieve and Boobies waked across the surface.

We hope these tips will help you put more fish on the bank, if you require any other fly fishing tips, just contact the Angling Active team. We are always happy to help.

This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman Magazine.