Following a decent fresh my ‘plan of the day’ client brief often includes the importance of striking quick. If the fish eats your fly, hit him fast. If I say strike, rip his lips off! This has been the focus of the past week for me in the South as clients don’t realise the necessity for total line control and a quick hook set. There have been times where I’ve called the nymph set intentionally early to account for slack line and slower angler reaction, occasionally before the fish has even eaten the nymph...it worked.
Here are some truths:
- You will very, very, very, very rarely feel the fish eat your fly. They won’t often hook themselves: that’s up to you.
- If you see your indicator dip, it’s often too late.
- That fish has quicker reactions than you.
As rivers drop and clear there is a lot of debris in the drift and undoubtedly fish sample a fair bit of it. Their ejection reflex is well honed and they can spit a fly before you even realise it’s been eaten.
However here are a few tips to help you nail these fast feeders...
- Use a small indicator as close to the fly as practical for early detection. At this time of the year there is a lot of low angle light and glare is a constant issue. You may see that fish clearly now, but will you if he moved a meter downstream to your fly?
- Strike at anything. If your indicator even ticks you need to set, fast…if you don’t, you’ve probably missed your shot. It’s important to remember that your indicator won’t always disappear. It may simply check in the flow, or slow, or speed up in the drift if the fish is moving back with your fly, or has eaten it downstream. It may simply pull an inch or two to the side. Failure to recognise these subtleties and strike will result in the indicator continuing its undisturbed drift down the flow with the angler none the wiser.
- Don’t wait for the indicator if you can see the fish. By the time it moves, it’s often too late. Watch the fish. He may swing, he may lift, he may roll. You may see the white flash of his mouth. If the fish moves, the moment he stops or begins to change direction you need to hit it. If you think he has the fly, set. You won’t always see an obvious sign of an eat so if you feel he has it, tweak your line and see.
Additional tip from Simon Chu:
“If your fly is there, and the fish is there, set the hook. There’s no reason for him to not have eaten it. We miss a lot of takes because we just don’t recognise them. Hook sets are free.”