When I fish with other fly fishers, I have many opportunities presented during the course of the day. One thing I try to do is observe their fly fishing behavior. In this way I hope to help myself and other fly fishers improve in simple ways that will GREATLY enhance our fly fishing effectiveness. One subtle way in which you can improve your effectiveness is by being AWARE of your rod position at all times while actively fishing.

This may seem common sense to you, and it certainly seems that way to me, but it is really?

While sitting in a barber chair getting my hair (what's left of it) cut recently, I was engaged in a short conversation by a total stranger on the subject of fly fishing. Apparently his son had arranged to take this father on a fly fishing trip in Colorado. This father, experienced in spin tackle fishing, had never fly fished. According to his account of the trip -- he frustrated his guide by "reverting to spin tackle habits while fly fishing". HE DID CATCH PLENTY OF FISH!

In the south in particular, fly fishing was not part of my growing up. Therefore I fished with spinning gear, then bait tackle, and finally in 1968, I tried fly tackle. What we all have a tendency to do is carry habits from our former fishing experiences into fly fishing, and sometimes old habits die hard and cause problems. High rod tip position is a part of fishing plastic worms, working crank baits, and jigging spoons.

The diagram (right) has all the elements of fly fishing disaster in it -- a fish striking, high rod tip, slack, bowed line. The fisher can't get the rod into a good position to set the hook. Unless the fish hits your fly hard enought to hook himself, it is another missed fish! I have watched fly fishers try to fish this way on many occasions, and the result is MANY LOST FISH. These are all simple things that any fly fisher can correct with just a little thought and self conditioning. It is just these sorts of habits that cost us MANY FISH!

In this situation (left) the rod is low to the water, and even though there is a wind bow in the line, it is taut!

While fly fishing, after you cast, you should LOWER YOUR ROD TIP, point it down the fly line, and take up all slack in your line. KEEP THE LINE TAUT!

If you are stripping in a subsurface fly, you will feel every little nip of a fish sucking in your fly, and if he HITS your fly hard, just raise your rod smoothly -- he's hooked. This is much better rod position.

It doesn't matter whether you are wading, float tubing, or fishing from a boat, keep that rod down and your line taut! You'll catch MANY more fish, like the bass (lower left) and the big bluegill (lower right).

If you are fishing small surface flies, you will be much better prepared to quickly and smoothly raise your rod and catch those quick hitting fish.

EXCEPTION: One exception that comes to mind is when you are trying to dead drift a fly in moving water. Still keep a taut line, but feed out line, and through your mends keep the drag out of your presentation.