May 12, 2013

Allen Afield: When no fish rise, fly rodders open their creel of tricks

By Ken Allen

(Continued from page 1)

Usually on days with no surface rises, the insect seining net solves the problem of what submerged bugs are interesting the fish, but at times this doesn't work. What then?

I walk to a shallow riffle and see what baitfish are swimming in the skinny water. It might be blacknose dace or other baitfish with a single, dark stripe down the side. Or it might be sculpin, matched by a Muddler Minnow in the proper color.

In waters with wild brookies or browns, Slaymaker's Little Brook Trout or Little Brown Trout fools trout.

After matching a baitfish imitation to the prevalent baitfish, I work current seams -- an old-fashioned presentation where the fly rodder casts quartering across and downstream. The fly swings in a tight arc like a baitfish fighting the current, and then the caster retrieves the fly in a seam between a faster and slower flow, using short jerks or any sequence that works. Experiment.

Days surely pass when nothing rises, the nymph seine fails, the baitfish observation turns up nothing and every other tactic in the bag of tricks produces zero, which is why we call it "fishing" -- not "catching."

But novice fly rodders who stick with it will become legends eventually -- at least in their circle where such accolades count.

Ken Allen, of Belgrade Lakes, a writer, editor and photographer, may be reached at:


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)



Clearing the Bases - Friday
Pitching, pitching, pitching

More PPH Blogs

Winter sports 2013-2014

High School Football 2013

Fall sports photos