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Crossing the Technique Line

Blog by: David Coulson 6/11/2015
Part of Series: Warmwater Fly Fishing

After some sixty years of fishing, there’s one thing that continues to amaze me.  That’s anglers who persist in blowing off great information from other anglers simply because they’re fishing a different technique. 

A few years back I fished around Port Aransas, primarily fly fishing from kayaks.  My “partner” was introduced to me through a mutual friend, as he knew we both were looking to make the trip and wished a partner.  One day out, I wished to work deep into the waters of Lighthouse Lakes, my partner didn’t. It was a tough day of fishing, and after several hours I paddled back out having only caught a few.  My partner hadn’t caught a thing. He pointed to a couple fishing and said, “They’re catching them like crazy.”  I looked over and noted they were working shrimp under a popper.  I responded, “So why aren’t you catching.” His answer was,  “they’re bait fishing and we’re fly fishing.”

I then explained that they were fishing the edge of the shipping channel and that we had an incoming tide, meaning a current.  They were catching sea trout on shrimp.  Figuring the fish were moving along the channel edge and actively feeding, I moved us to the channel and a several hundred feet away.  We put on shrimp patterns, and by my second cast I had my first trout.  My partner soon followed.  Point is, he fished there all day without success because he didn’t use the information at hand to catch fish.  Why? Because the information was from “bait” fishermen and he was “fly” fishing.

So when you’re out fishing, be it bait, lure, trolling, fly, or something else, pay attention to your fellow anglers.  If they’re catching fish with worms on the bottom, you know where fish are, and that a “worm” pattern, woolly bugger, or marabou jig might work.  If they’re not catching, but there are rises on the surface.  Well, put your bait there, fly fish the surface, use a fly and bubble rig or a shallow running lure. 

Similarly, on the forum I see folks asking for “specifics” on fishing waters when good reports have been made.  If you’re a novice angler, I can understand not making the connection. However, if you’ve been around the block a time or two, you should be able to “read between the lines.” 

For example, here’s how I might read between the lines: jigs mean slow presentations, so a sinking line and weighted flies are in order. Rises mean shallow fish and a floating line is in order likely with subsurface nymphs.  Catching fish along weedlines, means the fish are using cover, likely looking for “minnows” so I’m thinking streamers tight to the cover. Jerkbaits means a reaction bite, so I’m going to use a strip and pause presentation. Rapalas are a shallow running bait, so use a floating line with streamers. Killing ‘em on powerbait or worms means the fish are following the bottom and likely recently stocked so woolly buggers or hare’s ears are in order.

Here’s the bottom line, fish are fish and behave in similar ways.  If you persist in ignoring the information presented by all methods of fishing and adapting it to your techniques, you’re going to come up short on the catching end. 

I didn’t figure out how to catch catfish on the fly, walleye on the fly, wiper on the fly, bass on the fly, carp on the fly, perch on the fly, bluegill on the fly, . . . by talking dry fly fishing for trout at the local “fly shop.”  Nope, I figured it out by “listening” to those catching carp, catfish, walleye, wiper, . . . you name it, regardless of how they caught them and applied that information to my favorite way of fishing, the long rod. 

Do the same, “listen” to everyone catching, then think about how you can adapt your favorite technique, bait, lure, whatever, to those conditions and presentations.   Do so and you’ll find  yourself catching more fish than you ever thought possible.

Blog content © David Coulson
Blog Comments
FISHRANGLER, CO   6/11/2015 1:25:03 PM
Good info I seconfd that though. Are you going to make a giant fly to match the one I posted on the cat thread ? If you do use natural materials.
Smelly, CO   6/12/2015 7:15:40 PM
That's fishing without making a cast. Sometimes that detective work pays off. I fished a local lake once and although I caught a few, the bait guys were hammering them. After a little friendly chat, I learned that powerbait was producing the fish but in only ONE COLOR. Armed wit that info. I found a lure that had that color, tied it on, and did a little hammering myself !

Other Blogs in the Warmwater Fly Fishing Series

Walleye Fly Fishing by M. Snider 09.03.21
A primer on how to go after toothy walleye on the fly. With a sinking line and some clousers, you'll be well on your way to hooking these predators on a noodle rod.
Sonar Exploration to Catch More Shallow Fish by M. Snider 06.19.21
In this blog I explain a bit about my technique of scanning sonar in deeper water around a lake to find and mark congregations of gamefish and baitfish to improve chances of catching fish when casting shallower structure.
Ready For Carp by M. McConnell 03.18.19
Fly fishing for Carp is a blast! Whether you're targeting Common Carp, Grass Carp, or Mirror Carp - these fish are sure to test your fly fishing skills.
Carp on the Fly Resources - Part 4 by T. McInerney 10.14.18
Here's the fourth and last of a few blogs highlighting some great resources to get you into carp on the fly.
Carp on the Fly Resources - Part 3 by T. McInerney 09.24.18
Here's the third of a few blogs highlighting some great resources to get you into carp on the fly.
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