The secret to catching big, wild trout often comes down to identifying a single target, then dissecting the fish’s feeding rhythm. Fishing as focused as this requires patience and stealth. Here’s how the mix works.

stalk trout
Stalk into position, match the rhythm, and calculate the angles. Kagan McLeod

1. Stalk Into Position

On broken pocket water, the rippled surface allows a closer approach. Cast from straight downstream to keep your line out of mixed currents (A), but beware of small “lookout” trout (B) that will spook into the head of the pool. If you’re fishing slick pools or spring creeks, don’t push too close—a trout can pick up movement from much farther away. Anglers casting wet flies should post across and slightly upstream (C) of the fish for drifts that keep the leader, tippet, and any split shot outside the trout’s view.

2. Match the Rhythm

Does your trout rise to every morsel of food, or every few seconds, or every few drifting insects? Does the fish prefer prey off to one side, or directly in front of its snout? Does it slurp up a mouthful of spinners, or sip in singles? Pay attention to these patterns and factor them into your presentation. For example: Count out loud to nail the rhythm down—slurp, one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi, slurp. If you can’t see your fly, tie on a more visible pattern of the same size.

3. Calculate the Angles

Count down the cast, and put the fly 2 feet in front of the fish. A tighter cast will spook it. A longer cast could require too much mending to stay drift-free. If you bomb a sloppy cast or miss a strike, resist the temptation to fire out a quick cast to cover up your mistake. Give the fish time to settle back into a feeding rhythm.

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