5 Tips to Help You Prepare for Spring Fishing

Written By: P.J. Smith, P.J.’s Guide Service

P.J. carefully fishing a quiet Driftless run during early spring.
All photos by P.J.’s Guide Service

This spring season is looking great so far. We’ve had some good snow up here in the Driftless–and throughout much of the Western US as well–which will help to fill the streams and to keep the water nice and cool. As the snow starts to melt, and green returns to the landscape, it’s time to turn our thoughts to fishing once again. This is one of the best times to get out and wet a line, so don’t let it slip by. Here are 5 tips to help you get ready for spring fishing:

1. Practice Casting

Put out some targets at different ranges and try casting at them in quick succession. Make sure to work on your roll cast and sidearm cast too, not just the standard overhead variety. Spring fishing often requires making highly-accurate casts to satisfy finicky trout rising to tiny BWOs, and you want your muscle memory to be sharp when that time comes. 

You don’t need a dedicated stand like this to work on your fly line, but it sure makes the process easier.

2. Check your Fly Line

Unspool your fly line and give it a thorough cleaning, making sure to look for any cracks or cuts as you go. If the coating is no longer smooth and intact, then it won’t float as well, and may hang up and slow down as it moves through your guides during casting. The only solution in that case is to replace it with a brand new line. I like to write down the date I install a new fly line so that I can track how long each one lasts. There’s something about a fresh new line that really says spring is here and the season is ripe and ready to go.

3. Scrub and Patch your Waders

I try to quickly wipe off and dry out my waders after each trip, but when spring arrives, I do a deep clean, including a gentle scrubbing on the inside as well as the outside. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid damaging the material. This is also a great time to look for and patch any pinhole leaks that you may have put off since last season.

4. Restock your Fly Boxes

First, dig through your pockets and packs and toss out the old line clippings, rusty flies, and candy wrappers that built up over the previous season. Then, organize your fly boxes and add some classic springtime patterns, including BWOs, midges, Klinkhammers, little black stonefly nymphs, and a handful of small leech patterns

On the left, a well-used patch full of good springtime patterns (mostly BWO imitations) and on the right, a closeup of a Klinkhammer design using a pink post instead of the standard white.

5. Buy a License

Get your fishing license now, so you are ready to go fish whenever the weather is right, and won’t have to risk running into an unforeseen snag at the last minute that could keep you off the water. I even make a few copies to put in my fishing pack, vehicle, and boat so that if I lose one, I’ll have a backup handy.

P.J. Smith is owner and operator of P.J.’s Guide Service in Westby, WI.

6 thoughts on “5 Tips to Help You Prepare for Spring Fishing”

  1. I like to go through my boxes and sharpen the hooks on all the well used flies. This may take a while but its a good way to cull your flies on a rainy day.

  2. I always do steps 1 through 4.
    I am pleased to hear about step 5 which I never considered, but will do so now.
    Thanks. Joseph

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *