One of the many reasons we love fly fishing for trout is that they are such a challenge to catch. Trout have excellent vision, their vision path is essentially up and out. When folks say “I hope they are looking up”, well, the fish always are. Whether or not they are feeding and you are presenting the right fly, that’s a different story.
Because of their vision and their lateral line which helps detect vibration, experienced trout fishermen know the importance of a stealthy approach.
Trout have about a 10 degree blind spot on the actual shoreline, but this isn’t nearly enough to make a fly fisherman go unseen. I always wear clothing that matches my surroundings or is dull in nature. Leave the bright fluorescents for the salt water folks.
Trout also have an excellent sense of smell. Steelheaders are very aware of this fact. A gear guy will swing odor producing egg sacks and shrimp to draw them in.
The term “match the hatch” has come about because of trout’s selective feeding habits.
Your offering needs to the right color, size, and stage of forage to entice a strike. There are a couple of easy tricks to see what could be on the menu. For subsurface activity, I have a piece of screen attached to two small pieces of wood. It’s about 12”x12”. I’ll stick this on the bottom of the stream bed vertically and disturb the rocks directly upstream. The nymphs will flow right into the screen, and now I’ve got my target.
The other trick I have is simple observation of the bugs hatching off the water.
At this point, I can tell what they are - given my years of experience. In the past, I’ve used binoculars if needed. However, invariably, there will be a bug of choice in the tree, shrub or brush near you….and sometimes on your neck.
You do need a good assortment of flies. But to start out, you don’t need every bug ever made. I wrote a piece about a year ago that got some great reviews: Don't Buy That Fly! It could be a pretty good resource for you.
Tight Lines and Screaming Drags!