Thinking Like a Coon
Harry Murray, owner of Murray's Fly Shop in Edinburg, Virginia, reckons that raccoons take more brook trout from the dainty Shenandoah streams than anglers do. Why? Because they're sneaky. "My son Jeff taught a fella to sneak," says Murray, "and he took 25 or 30 fish his first day." It might feel goofy, but crawling around the banks on your knees, hiding behind trees, and using the river's steep gradients to remain concealed can ensure a stocked creel.
On the gin-clear flows of Tennessee's Chattahoochee, Unicoi Outfitters owner Jimmy Harris rarely makes a single backcast in the tighter sections. Harris recommends high-sticking. Slink up to within 15 feet downstream of your prey and use a roll cast to flip a nymph in front of the trout. Then hold your rod straight up in the air so that only your leader touches the water as the nymph drifts through the hole. Repeat as many times as the fish will allow.
Swinging the Fly
To hook a steelhead with a wet fly, provoke his ire, advises
Wilfred Lee, a guide with more than 40 years of experience around Hazelton, British Columbia.Cast 30 degrees downstream, then strip line and mend it out, letting the fly drop. When it passes through prime holding water, let the line tighten so that the fly swings hook eye forward in front of the fish as if it's fleeing—a movement that causes nearby steelhead to strike with reckless furor.
To make long casts even into strong headwinds, start by laying out 30 to 40 feet of line. As you begin your backcast, grab hold of the line with your opposite hand, leaving at least ten feet of excess hanging off the reel. As the rod tip reaches 12 o'clock, pull down and up quickly on the line to increase line speed in your backcast. Then, as you start your forward cast, pull down and let go as the line shoots out. With practice you should be able to hit 60 to 75 feet.
Perfect fly presentation is often ruined by drag—the current's unnatural tug on your fly as it drifts downstream—a problem the snake cast eliminates. To execute: Just as the line straightens out before you on a forward cast, wiggle the rod tip several times so that the line lies down in a series of S-curves on the water. Your fly will drift drag-free to your rising target while the current is busy taking the slack out of your line.
Thinking Like a Coon