Watching trout eat emergers can be very frustrating. They are not quite eating dry flies but showing enough of their backs that you switch out your nymph rig for dry flies. Again you are fish-less and wondering what the hell are these fish eating. Well chances are they are chowing on emergers and since trout are professional bug eaters if you are not in the zone then you are out of it. Lose the bobber, weight and heavy nymphs and try swinging for a change.
Swinging flies is not a new technique in fact it is very old and is getting more attention each passing year. Quotes like “if it aint on the swing it aint no thing” or “the tug is the drug” have emerged from swinging flies to fish. These quote also tend to end with “Brah” which is slang for bro. I personally think those sayings are dumb and tend not to use them. But, I do like to swing flies and have been doing so before it became the “cool” thing to do. A lot of anglers tend to associate swinging flies for Anadromous fish like Steelhead, Salmon and Sea Run Brown Trout. What is often over looked is swinging flies for pesky mountain trout. I learned how to swing flies for trout quite a few years ago on the Yakima River in WA. Of course the bobber fishing was crushing as it tends to do but our guide turned me on to swinging wet flies. If this is old news to you please chime in and let us know how you like to set up your program. If you are new this is how I like to set up a swinging rig for trout.
Take a 7-9 foot leader and tie on an additional 12-18″ of tippet. Leave about 4-5 inches of tag end at your leader/tippet connection. That tag end is where you will tie your first fly. Your second fly will be attached at the end of your tippet. your rig should look like the picture below.
Try to use flies that are not overly heavy. This will reduce your tangles. I like to use soft hackles that displace water when moving through the water column. Keep in mind that you will be fishing the top 1-3 feet of the water column. If you want to go real deep go back to the bobber or add a sink tip.
Cast down and across the river and let your bugs swing across the current at a 45 degree angle. It is best to leave a little loop behind your trigger finger. Keep the line somewhat tight and follow your fly line with your rod tip as it moves down river. When you feel the tap tap either drop your loop or keep swinging. Often time the fish will hang itself on the bug and the fight begins. It is difficult not to set the hook when you feel the “tug brah” but you will be more successful if you either drop your loop and keep your rod low.
Swinging flies works well in all types of water. In the winter it works great in long slow runs. In the summer months try swinging bigger flies in fast riffles at the head of a run. You’ll be surprised what you’ll pull out. Get rid of the bobber for a day and let us know how you do.