Our Friend Q


Had a recent trip to Garvin Brook, very clear water. Trout were line shy. My best results were an across stream presentation. How does it work when you use a down stream presentation as far as hooking up? I do not do much dry fly fishing but this stream, with it being so clear the fish were top oriented. Question: Is the cross stream better then down stream presentation?


First, exploring all methods of presentation is the right avenue to take when trout are spooky, temperamental or you are just prospecting for eats. Your ability to create, change, adjust and be flexible in your presentation and pattern change can be the limiting factors if you choose to remain rigid and only travel the well worn path. Make no mistake, there are days when you will fail to crack the “Bite Me” code. Likewise, you will experience success in getting fish to eat that you will use again another day. It is all part of reassuring yourself you are getting better at the catching craft, if that is what you desire.

I use cross and/or down stream presentations every time I throw the fly regardless if I am dry fly fishing or nymphing.  Down stream prospecting is part of my normal presentation routine along with the more common up stream techniques. Sometimes it is the ticket, sometimes not. With the nymph it may be swinging a soft hackle, the dry skittering a caddis. The important part is that you have broadened your approach and most likely increased your catching chances.

As far as hooking potential on the down stream presentation, math and experience tells me that the hooking ratio will be poorer than its up-stream counterpart. If the fly is on a down stream dead drift, most likely the angler will be setting the hook in the same direction as the trout is pursuing it, pulling the fly away from the trout which may lower the hooking odds. When the fly is involved in a dragging down stream presentation the trout is attempting to intersect the fly at some point along a judged path. There are lots of variables that may cause that fish to miss or miscalculate the anglers fly, thus lowering the odds of hooking.

On a side note, I would probably not associate clear streams with trout being top water oriented. There may be something else going on there but that is food for another post.

Finally, I would probably lump my presentations into straight up and up and across and straight down and down and across. In all presentations the fly is obviously moving down stream. The location of the angler in relationship to the fly and the fish, and the anglers ability to sort through the myriad of variables associated with his/her position will tell the tail of successful hook ups and catching. Oh, and then there is playing the fish, yep, forgot about that one.

The only way to learn is to try. Try something different every time you fish.

I have been in Montana for the last 10 days so I have no solid local stream reports for you. Go fish and give me a report.