Don’t mess up your shot at an exhilarating sight-fishing take. Refraction is complicated, but the solution is easy.
[by Aaron Jasper]
SIGHT-NYMPHING TO A TROUT REQUIRES YOU TO KNOW the exact position of the fish. But there are factors that can lead you to believe a fish is farther away than it really is. The depth of water, the angle of the sun, and the light refraction can contribute to an optical illusion.
A few years back I was sight-fishing to a rather large trout. I made cast after cast to no avail. A friend of mine climbed a nearby hill and noticed that my presentations were at least two feet farther upstream than they really needed to be. He told me to shorten my cast, and on the second drift the trout inhaled my fly. Minutes later, I brought a beautiful 21-inch wild brown to net.
In shallow-water nymphing, the fish get a chance to really inspect the fly if you cast far upstream. The shorter drift cheats the fish of the chance to scrutinize the pattern so fully. And since it’s shallow water, the fly does not have to sink that far. Also, casts need to be precise because the heavy front taper of the fly line landing on the water can spook fish, but short drifts can be extremely effective because the fly can elicit a reactionary take. Although there is no exact science as to the distance the fish is from the angler, if you are making casts and not getting any reaction from the fish, shorten up your casts until your flies appear to be presented right in front of the fish.