Master Class Monday: How to Avoid Micro-Drag

Drag on a dry fly or nymph can be insidious, causing you to get more refusals, misses, and bad hook sets. Sometimes, this drag is barely visible to the fly fisher, either on a floating dry fly or on an indicator when nymph fishing. But it can be enough to . . .


Drag on a dry fly or nymph can be insidious, causing you to get more refusals, misses, and bad hook sets. Sometimes, this drag is barely visible to the fly fisher, either on a floating dry fly or on an indicator when nymph fishing. But it can be enough to cause a trout to refuse your fly. Learn how to recognize this tricky “micro-drag” and how to avoid it by changing your position or by making a different cast.

Watch for further installments of Master Class Monday every week here at Orvis News, in the Advanced Tactics playlist our You Tube Channel, and on the new Advanced section of our Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center.

Master Class Monday: How to Deal with Sun and Shade

We sometimes don’t pay enough attention to sunlight and shade when fly fishing for trout. But as Dave Jensen shows–using an example of a large cutthroat trout rising in a mountain river–your approach must take these conditions into account. This . . .


We sometimes don’t pay enough attention to sunlight and shade when fly fishing for trout. But as Dave Jensen shows–using an example of a large cutthroat trout rising in a mountain river–your approach must take these conditions into account. This video will change the way you think about your approach on trout streams.

Watch for further installments of Master Class Monday every week here at Orvis News, in the Advanced Tactics playlist our You Tube Channel, and on the new Advanced section of our Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center.

Master Class Monday: Tight-Line Nymphing for Beginners

Tight-line or “Euro” nymphing is a very effective way to catch trout when fly fishing, and it works when other methods are not effective, like when trout are in deep water and not feeding aggressively. Dave Jensen shows how he utilizes this nymphing . . .


Tight-line or “Euro” nymphing is a very effective way to catch trout when fly fishing, and it works when other methods are not effective, like when trout are in deep water and not feeding aggressively. Dave Jensen shows how he utilizes this nymphing method, and explains how a beginner can quickly learn how to catch those trout that seem to be glued to the bottom.

Watch for further installments of Master Class Monday every week here at Orvis News, in the Advanced Tactics playlist our You Tube Channel, and on the new Advanced section of our Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center.

Book Excerpt: How to Fish Streamers for Trout


This fat rainbow fell for a Bunny Streamer fished with a fast retrieve on Colorado’s Yampa River.
Photo by Jay Nichols

Streamers can be fished just like nymphs and wet flies—across-stream, upstream, and downstream. Streamers will take fish all of these ways, even dead-drifted directly . . .


This fat rainbow fell for a Bunny Streamer fished with a fast retrieve on Colorado’s Yampa River.
Photo by Jay Nichols

[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from Tom Rosenbauer’s book, Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide, from Lyons Press. This is a complete, soup-to-nuts revision of Tom’s classic, with lots of great new information and killer photographs.]

Streamers can be fished just like nymphs and wet flies—across-stream, upstream, and downstream. Streamers will take fish all of these ways, even dead-drifted directly upstream. They are most effective, however, when you give them some manipulation, either by stripping in line as they drift or by pumping the rod tip to give them life.

Streamers are usually used when nothing else will attract the trout’s attention, in high, dirty water, in the cold water of early season, and in very fast, broken water where smaller flies aren’t visible.

You can cover a lot of water with streamers, because a trout will usually take your streamer on the first drift, or at least make a pass at it. If he’s not interested, no amount of repeated casting will make him strike. If he swirls at your streamer but doesn’t take, try one of a different color, or one that’s slightly smaller than the one you’re using. Some fly fishers also use streamers to locate trout, returning later with a standard dry, wet, or nymph.

A popular way to fish streamers is to cast directly across the current to the far bank, stripping in line in foot-long pulls as the fly swings around in the current. This is one of the most effective ways of float-fishing large western rivers. Strikes to this kind of presentation will be quick and vicious, and the fish will usually hook themselves because of the tight line. Although there is not much finesse involved, introducing some strategy into your presentation will get you more strikes. First, make sure that you cast your fly right to the bank. Big trout, particularly brown trout, will lie very tight to the bank, where there is protection in the form of boulders and logs. Sometimes, the difference between casting 5 feet from the bank and bouncing your fly right off the shore will make the difference between a great day and a mediocre one.


When fishing from a drift boat or on foot, make sure to hit these spots where trout lie in wait to ambush baitfish.
Illustration by Bob White

The other consideration is the direction your fly swims in relation to the current. Regardless of the angle between your cast and the bank, make sure that the fly swims broadside to the current, or if not broadside, at least in an upstream direction. A fly that darts downstream, right into a trout’s face, is more likely to frighten your quarry than tempt it. Baitfish don’t attack trout, and a baitfish that moves toward—rather than away from—a trout is cause for alarm. Sometimes you can make your fly swim broadside just by the angle at which you cast, but sometimes, particularly when casting to the bank from a moving drift boat, you have to shoot a quick cast upstream of the boat. Just stripping in line will make your fly dart downstream, so the best thing to do is to throw a hard upstream mend just after the fly lands, so that as you begin stripping, the fly swims broadside to the current.

In rivers with very fast currents, you should angle your cast downstream to slow the swing of your fly. This works well with a sinking line, but with a floating line it often makes the fly skim just under the surface, too shallow to interest most trout. Just as in nymph and wet-fly fishing, casting slightly upstream or using a sinking-tip or sinking line will also make your fly ride deeper and slower. In very deep or fast water, try casting upstream and across, then mend the fly upstream several times while the fly sinks. You have to cast well ahead of where you think a trout might be lying, but by the time the fly gets below you, it will be much deeper than if you just cast directly across the current or cast at a downstream angle.

A deadly method of fishing streamers, although one that isn’t used very often, is fishing them directly upstream. Try to retrieve line just slightly faster than the current, so that your fly darts along the bottom in little fits and pauses, just like a sculpin or crayfish darting from one rock to another. This technique is often more effective if you attach a small nymph behind your streamer, just as you would when fishing a pair of nymphs.


The revised edition of Tom’s classic is practically a new book.

Streamers will also work when cast directly downstream. You can just let your fly hang in the current, using the current to give it life. You can also flip your rod back and forth, making the fly swim from side to side in the same spot. If this presentation doesn’t work, try retrieving your streamer back upstream by stripping in line. Try short, quick pulls; long, steady pulls; or even erratic strips. One of these approaches may appeal to the trout.

Dead-drifting a streamer along a bank so that its profile is perpendicular to the current works great wherever there is very roily water or a sharp drop-off. When you are dead-drifting a streamer, use your line to control the fly, as you would when fishing a nymph. A high-sticking technique works great when you want to float the streamer along an undercut bank or through a deep slot between two boulders. The advantage of a streamer in these situations is that the take is not subtle. When a trout attacks a baitfish, it almost always does so aggressively—no strike indicator necessary.

Using a streamer to imitate a stunned baitfish that has just been washed over a waterfall or through the turbines of a dam is among the simplest fly-fishing presentations. All you have to do is cast the streamer into the boiling water at the base of the waterfall or dam, give the fly enough slack that it can be bounced around by the wild and competing currents, and then hold on. The trout have figured out that the trip over the falls or through the dam’s turbines leaves the baitfish injured or just temporarily paralyzed, which makes for easy pickings. Don’t worry about missing the strike; the fish usually takes up all that slack in the first seconds of the fight.

Tom Rosenbauer’s Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide is available online, in Orvis store, and in bookstores everywhere.

Master Class Monday: How to Catch Big Trout in Tough Cover

Hooking a big trout in heavy cover is one thing; landing that trout on a fly rod adds another set of challenges. In our latest Master Class Monday video, there’s some amazing footage of a very large trout hooked in shallow, snag-filled water. Dave Jensen . . .


Hooking a big trout in heavy cover is one thing; landing that trout on a fly rod adds another set of challenges. In our latest Master Class Monday video, there’s some amazing footage of a very large trout hooked in shallow, snag-filled water. Dave Jensen walks us through the process of making the right presentation and employing the right fighting strategies to land it. You’ll get some good tips in this one.

Watch for further installments of Master Class Monday every week here at Orvis News, in the Advanced Tactics playlist our You Tube Channel, and on the new Advanced section of our Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center.

Master Class Monday: How to Know When a Trout Will Take Your Fly

You won’t find numerous trout feeding every time you fish a trout stream, but you do run into this situation, there are ways to find the one trout that is more likely to take your fly. Dave Jensen . . .


You won’t find numerous trout feeding every time you fish a trout stream, but you do run into this situation, there are ways to find the one trout that is more likely to take your fly. Dave Jensen gives us some clues for finding the trout most likely to eat. It’s a great fly-fishing lesson and another example of how observation of fish behavior can help you be a more successful angler.

Watch for further installments of Master Class Monday every week here at Orvis News, in the Advanced Tactics playlist our You Tube Channel, and on the new Advanced section of our Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center.

Master Class Monday: How to Fish Jig-Head Streamers

There are times when conventional fly-fishing techniques won’t get your fly deep enough, especially in heavy water. This is the time to use a heavy jig-head streamer, combined with either a Power Taper floating line or a fast-sinking line like the . . .


There are times when conventional fly-fishing techniques won’t get your fly deep enough, especially in heavy water. This is the time to use a heavy jig-head streamer, combined with either a Power Taper floating line or a fast-sinking line like the Depth Charge. The object is to get your fly as quickly as possible into deep pools and runs where other fly-fishing methods just can’t get your fly. Dave Jensen shows you how to do it–the method is not pretty, but it is deadly on large brown and rainbow trout.

Watch for further installments of Master Class Monday every week here at Orvis News, in the Advanced Tactics playlist our You Tube Channel, and on the new Advanced section of our Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center.

Podcast: Your FAQs Answered, with Jeremy Benn of Orvis Tech Support


This week I interview my old friend Jeremy Benn, longtime Orvis employee and head of our Outfitter Team in Roanoke , Virginia. These are the wonderful people who answer all your tackle questions via e-mail, telephone, and live chat. There are certain . . .



Big News: Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast and the Orvis Hunting and Shooting Podcast are now available in their entirety on Spotify, which will update automatically when we upload new content.

This week I interview my old friend Jeremy Benn, longtime Orvis employee and head of our Outfitter Team in Roanoke , Virginia. These are the wonderful people who answer all your tackle questions via e-mail, telephone, and live chat. There are certain questions they get (and I get on podcast requests) over and over again, including:

  • What rod do I need for….?
  • Can I use the same fly rod outfit for XXX and XXX?
  • Do I really get something more when I buy a more expensive rod?
  • How much backing do I need?
  • What leader do I need for XXX?
  • I am going to XXX What flies do I need?
  • What is the best knot?

In the Fly Box this week, here is a sample of the kinds of questions I try to answer:

  • How do I become a fishing guide?
  • When do I fish upstream and when do I fish downstream?
  • Why do you put barrel swivels on your braided leaders? (We don’t.)
  • How do you avoid breaking your rod when getting flies out of trees?
  • What will be the effects of the recent hurricane on trout and saltwater fishing in North Carolina?
  • How often do you fish parachutes and Sparkle Duns as opposed to traditional dry flies?
  • How long can you keep a trout in a net if it has cool running water in the net?
  • Can I use my switch rod for schoolie stripers?
  • What flies should I use for landlocked Atlantic salmon?
  • How do I target cruising salmon and steelhead on the Chicago shoreline?
  • What happened to the Orvis app?
  • Why can’t I catch trout in tailwaters on streamers from my canoe?
  • Plus two great fly-tying tips from a listener.

If you don’t see the “Play” button above, click here to listen.


Jeremy Benn is the Orvis Answer Man.
Photo courtesy Jeremy Benn

Master Class Monday: How to Fish Riffles for Trout

Trout are often found in shallow riffles. When they are in this kind of water, they are often easy to catch, but most fly fishers ignore these hot spots because they look too shallow. Trout move . . .


Trout are often found in shallow riffles. When they are in this kind of water, they are often easy to catch, but most fly fishers ignore these hot spots because they look too shallow. Trout move into riffles to feed, though, and often you’ll be surprised to find large trout. They can be easily caught on dry flies and nymphs if you know where to look.

Watch for further installments of Master Class Monday every week here at Orvis News, in the Advanced Tactics playlist our You Tube Channel, and on the new Advanced section of our Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center.

Classic Video Tip: How to Make the Basic Spey Cast

Skagit lines and longer rods being the ideal setup for fall and winter steelheading, I thought this video tip from Pete Kutzer—from the “Steelhead & Salmon Fly Fishing” chapter on the. . .


See All Orvis Learning Center Fly Fishing Video Lessons
With Skagit lines and longer rods being the ideal setup for fall and winter steelheading, I thought this video tip from Pete Kutzer—from the “Steelhead & Salmon Fly Fishing” chapter on the Orvis Fly Fishing Learning Center—would be appropriate this week. And since steelheading involves a lot of casting and little fish-playing, it’s an ideal time to practice your Spey technique.