What’s the single best fly fishing tip you’ve ever heard?

I’ve learned a lot of helpful hints over the years on everything from casting to picking the right fly… but in my book, the number one challenge (and the real appeal of fly fishing) is locating fish in the river. It’s all a big game of hide and seek, which never grows old.

Interestingly, the best lesson I ever learned about locating trout in a river came from a tuna captain. Fishing with Steve “Creature” Coulter, 40 miles off Hatteras, North Carolina, I stared out at the blue horizon and asked him how in the world he went about finding fish in the open ocean.

“It isn’t so hard,” he smiled. “It’s just like trout fishing.”

“How do you figure?” I asked.

He explained: “Fish like changes.” Changes in currents, changes in depth, changes in water color, and changes in structure. If you find a patch of sea grass floating in the open ocean, that’s a structure change, and you’ll find fish under it. If you find a place where currents converge baitfish will school there, and bigger fish will follow them. Reefs, wrecks, and rock formations attract fish too, as do underwater ridges and canyons.

Creature’s lesson is to apply that thinking when you go to the trout river. Look for changes in currents, where swift water meets slow water; changes in structure, where rocks and trees create holding water; changes in depth, like shelves and pools, or changes in color, which usually signal a depth or structural transition.

Find the changes, and you find the fish.

Tim and his buddies tease me when we fish together… “Oh here comes Deeter, Mr. Changes…” “Fish like changes!” “Play the Bowie music… ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES!”

That’s okay. The more I fish, anywhere from bass lakes to rivers to the ocean… I now find myself constantly concentrating on changes.

Do the same, and I promise you you’ll change your hookup ratio for the better… hopefully starting this weekend.