Keeping the fly line straight is one of the most important keys to catching fish.
When the line has curves or waves, it only makes sense that a fish could actually pick up the fly and move it without pulling the line or moving the rod tip sideways.
Case in point: On a recent fly fishing trip to one of the lakes on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, we watched trout breaking the surface, obviously feeding on hatching insects.
We had spent most of the morning making short pulls on a sinking line while kicking back in personal pontoons. Dragging Prince Nymphs and small streamers.
Actually, for about an hour that morning we had to kick like crazy just to try to stay in one spot and not get blown towards Cut Bank!
It was when we returned to the truck for lunch that fish started rising, many within easy casting distance with waders.
My fishing partner wanted to switch to a dry fly, but when we looked closely it seemed, rather than eating flies off the surface, the trout were taking emergers just before they rose to the surface.
After tying on small emerger patterns, we began casting.
I caught fish; he didn’t.
Two reasons: He was pointing is rod up about 2 o’clock and his dry line had big curves when lying on the water.
First remedy was to lower the rod tip until it was about a foot over the water surface.
Second was to gently pull line until it was almost straight, then stop. And watch it very closely.
When the line straightened, it meant a fish had taken the fly.
Using a strip strike technique, where the non-rod hand pulls the line back sharply during strike rather than raising the rod tip, set the hook quickly and effectively.
Gotta keep the line straight when you’re fly fishing!
Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.