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Some anglers are quick to blame an unsuccessful trip on the weather, the flies they used, or the fact that “the fish just weren’t biting”. Well I’ve got some discomforting news for you; odds are somebody out there was catching em’ left and right. The good news is ninety percent of the time an unsuccessful trip is more than likely caused by lack of implementing this very simple yet very important principle.

One of the most common mistakes novice anglers tend to make is worrying too much about flies and not worrying enough about how they present them. In this game presentation is key. I don’t care if you’re fishing the most technical fishery in the country, if your presentation is on point your success rate is going to skyrocket (not to say there isn’t a time to break out a size 22 midge). For the most part, if your flies look natural coming through the water fish aren’t going to spend as much time examining them, thus triggering more bites.

Simply put, if you have a bead-head prince nymph you can catch just about any fish, at any time, on any trout stream in the world. That is IF¬†you fish correctly and methodically. This may sound too good to be true but I can promise you presentation is everything. Even stocked trout that will inhale massive purple Squirmy Wormys won’t eat a fly on a bad drift.

If you’re fishing an area that’s only 5 feet in front of you, remember to stay tight to your flies and don’t let your line touch the water. If you’re fishing an area that’s further away be sure to make proper mends and don’t let your line drag your flies. One of the best ways to prevent your line from dragging your flies on a long cast is to use a setup mend. Using the force exerted from your cast you can quickly perform a mend in the opposite direction of the current to allow for a more clean drift.

However the layout of the water you’re fishing plays a huge part in this. If you’re fishing to a group of fish sitting in super slow deep water, things can get ultra technical. This is the only scenario where you may not find a way to entice a fish (or at least not through my experience).

So next time you go out remember this: choosing the right flies is important, but not as important as making those flies look like something a fish would eat. Trout are an extremely adaptive species of fish, quick to turn there head at anything that looks abnormal. Get back to the basics, don’t psych yourself out picking flies and just fish. Be patient, make good casts and clean drifts. I can promise you if you slow down and fish hard you will catch more fish regardless of the flies you’re using.

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