Trout Fishing photo

I often preach about the importance of slowing down and watching before you make casts. The trick to catching more trout with flies, in my mind, has less to do with perfect fly patterns and long casts, and more to do with actually knowing where the fish are and what they’re up to. The only way to figure that stuff out is to sit down and watch.

There are tricks to more effective run scouting. Here are my five top tips:

1. Get as high as you can, then as low as you can. In other words, seek a vantage point above the river, like high on a bank, even up in a tree. Once you get to the high ground, you want to keep a low profile, and not go jumping around so you will stand out and spook fish.

2. Put the sun behind you. This dramatically increases the risk of you casting shadows on the run, and shadows spook fish. But I’ll trade that for a brighter clearer picture.

3. Find the right polarized glasses. As we discussed earlier, I think finding one pair of all-around glasses that you trust is more effective than wearing 10 different tints for 10 situations.

4. Learn to identify what is NOT a fish. The sooner you lose the distractions, the easier it is to tell what the real fish are doing.

5. Confirm your information. When you see a fish rise, don’t barrel right down into the river. Watch it happen again. Then slowly slink into position. The more you understand why fish are behaving a certain way, the easier it is to catch them. You can’t capture the why with one glance.