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How to Get Trout to Notice Your Flies With Autumn Leaves in the Water

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October 08, 2012

How to Get Trout to Notice Your Flies With Autumn Leaves in the Water

By Kirk Deeter

Autumn is probably my favorite time to fish. The rivers are typically low. The crowds have thinned. The trout are active. And the brightly colored leaves create a stunningly beautiful backdrop. The only problem is, a stiff breeze can blow all those pretty leaves into the river. And that's exactly what I encountered a few days ago. I thought the South Platte River would be in perfect shape, but when I got to my fishing spot, I soon realized that the currents were thick with leaves and twigs.

With a kaleidoscope of colors—greens, browns, oranges, reds, and mostly bright yellow (aspen leaves)—washing downstream, how can you make a fly stand out so that a trout will not only notice it, but also eat it?

There are a few tricks that will work in this situation.

First of all, I like to look for eddies near where fast water meets slow water. Trout like those hard seams, where leaves collect in a line, because that's where the bugs are also collecting. So if you find that comma-shaped line of leaves, and cast into the clear water right next to it, there's a good chance you will coax a trout to chase your fly, even a dry fly. In this case, the leaves actually help you pinpoint the cast.

Second, I like to use flies with colors that don't match those leaves. The tans, yellows, and browns obviously blend into the mix. On this day, I used a Royal Stimulator with a peacock herl body with a band of red floss, and as a dropper nymph, I tied on a blue Psycho Prince. The trout were all over the blue nymph all day long. I don't know if they noticed it better, if the blue shade reacted well in the light, or what. I do know that the fly looked different than anything else floating in the river that day.

Third, we all know that fall is a great time for streamer fishing, and I think that's partly because, with so many leaves floating downstream, if you work a fly upstream, it's going to get noticed. Think about it. A trout sees flecks and globs of plant matter washing by all day, but suddenly out of its peripheral vision, it notices something darting in the other direction. That's just a hunch, but I'm sticking to it.

After all, the trick when there's so many things in the water to distract trout is to get your flies noticed. Cast them into places where you know trout will be looking. Choose colors that make them look like something everything else is not. And move them against the flow. Do those things, and you'll still catch trout, even when the leaves fall off the trees and into your favorite trout runs.

Comments (4)

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from jbell6826 wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Good tips. I'll putting some of these to use next weekend.

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Called "bar water"...you head to the bar, and catch your limit tellin fish stories in the bar. Leaves screw up your drift, interfer with not only the fly, but your leader causing problems. I just experienced the same problem, and had dying moss as well.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from alanegleston wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I so enjoyed your article and confirm that color is impoetant. I remember an article a decade ago that did research on trout's visual perception of color. BLUE is the color recognized most easily. I have seen trout come from other streams to investigate BLUE, lol; but look at and not eat. However, RED is the color that trout eat, blood. Combine these two in a fly or streamer and the day could be busy. Good fishing to all!

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from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Red is the color trout eat? I could write a book on why that isn't true. Seldom ever see red color on aquatic insects for one, and all trout eat them up to a certain big size before many of them turn to more protein, and eat other fish.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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from jbell6826 wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Good tips. I'll putting some of these to use next weekend.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from alanegleston wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

I so enjoyed your article and confirm that color is impoetant. I remember an article a decade ago that did research on trout's visual perception of color. BLUE is the color recognized most easily. I have seen trout come from other streams to investigate BLUE, lol; but look at and not eat. However, RED is the color that trout eat, blood. Combine these two in a fly or streamer and the day could be busy. Good fishing to all!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Called "bar water"...you head to the bar, and catch your limit tellin fish stories in the bar. Leaves screw up your drift, interfer with not only the fly, but your leader causing problems. I just experienced the same problem, and had dying moss as well.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 27 weeks ago

Red is the color trout eat? I could write a book on why that isn't true. Seldom ever see red color on aquatic insects for one, and all trout eat them up to a certain big size before many of them turn to more protein, and eat other fish.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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