Fishing the Busy Waters of the East

I love living in Pennsylvania and its access to year-round trout fishing, but there’s a catch that comes along with it…there are (almost) no secrets.

All of Pennsylvania’s prominent waterways, seeming with trout, get hit hard day in and day out and there is nothing we can do about it. Fly fishing can be difficult enough, and unfortunately these conditions only can drive the frustration higher. Over the years, I have come around to accepting several things and can always attribute my success to the same couple factors I am about to share.

Drift it right

Above all, a drag free drift is the single most important thing in all of trout fly fishing, in my opinion. Any fish will be weary of a fly if it is not riding properly, and heavily pressured fish are no exception. There are several ways to go about this, and it really doesn’t matter how you do it. However, if your fly is not riding true, you are in trouble. Set up a euro/tight line rig, fish an indicator that allows you extra slack, mend like heck, etc. How you achieve it is up to you, just get it done. Never forget that the drag free drift is king.

Hike it, Like it

The beaten path is just that: beaten. As nice as the pool right at the parking area may look, don’t always spend your time there. I’m often guilty of this because I might not have a lot of time and want to be on the water as long as possible, but I really try not to. It sounds crazy, but oftentimes a ten minute walk can save the day. The further you are away from the parking area, the better off you are. If you like blazing your own trails, even better. You never know what’s around the next bend. Go check it out and you may find what you’re looking for.

Downsize… everything

I believe that every fish can see every tippet and every hook point. I also believe they can see some less obvious than others. Size is key, and if you have to error, make sure it’s on the small side. I fool more fish on 6-7x tippet and size 20-22 hooks than any other avenue, day in day out, 24/7/365. Takes are super subtle, and big fish on small hooks/light tippet is an uphill battle, but it’s a challenge I always accept. Another key point to fishing small flies on light tippet (especially nymphs) is the elimination of micro drag, and yes I think it often means the difference of fooling a few and going home skunked.

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