The wall

This is nothing to do with Trump’s madness.

Athletes talk of hitting ‘the wall’ and we anglers face a much less physical, but none the less real challenge too. It is not that our body’s become exhausted, rather it is our reasoning which reaches a limit and we simply can’t figure out what to do next. Here are some examples and possible strategies which just might help you.

  1. River fly fishing for wild brown trout
River trouting can be a challenge when no fish are showing

Confronted with a river apparently devoid of life we tend to adopt well defined processes to find fish. Firstly we gravitate to spots where we have had success before. Next we fish deep because we can’t see any fish near the surface. We swap nymphs and methods of presentation. If none of this works we hit a wall. We are doing everything right and yet the fish do not cooperate. What do you do next?

Firstly, I would try Klink and dink for a while. A large dry with a small nymph fished New Zealand style below it. This has worked for me in the past on days which were otherwise fishless. I look for streamy or pocket water and use a sedge pattern for the dry fly. Short drifts with constant casting to show the flies briefly then whip them away seems to work best.

Or you could try a streamer. We are pretty conservative here in Ireland when it comes to using streamers on rivers but they have a place in our armoury. Pretty much anything that looks like it could be a small fish will do the trick. Look for structures of some kind where trout can hide and work the streamer by casting across and down. An erratic retrieve is best in my opinion but try different methods till you find what the fish will respond to.

2. Evening rise, fish showing everywhere on the river but you can’t even get one of them!

The sun dips below the horizon and the trout are feeding, but what if you can’t get them to take?

We have all been there – the river is alive with rising trout but you can’t hook a single one of them. Time is always against you as the light fades. It can be incredibly hard to find out what the fish are taking. The chances are they are feeding on spinners but it could just as easily be small sedges, caenis, smuts or even midges.

If your favourite spinner imitations are not doing the business then change to a small sedge (size 14 at the most). If you still don’t move anything then consider going very small with something like a Griffiths Gnat on a size 18 or 20 hook. These wee flies are a fair representation of a number of the smaller insects and in the semi-darkness they can be really good – as long as you can see them! Short casts are the order of the day.

Still no joy? Swap to a biggish wet sedge and fish it down and across. This could easily bring you the biggest trout of the day.

3. Blank day on the lough with no trout in the boat

Out in the deeps on Lough Mask

Perceived wisdom these days is that you motor off into the deeps and fish a team of wets on a sinking line until you bump into a shoal of trout. It is hard to argue with the logic of doing exactly that, but the deeps can be just as frustrating as anywhere else on a dour day. Try different sinking line speeds to search different levels.

I have had success by carefully fishing the shallows, changing on to dries and fishing blind on difficult days. A mayfly and a sedge cast close to the shore, especially in the vicinity of some trees if possible, has worked for me before now.

4. Salmon fishing on the river, great conditions but no takers

Good water, why are they taking?

It happens. A perfect day, fresh fish showing but you can’t tempt one. What to try next? I suggest that if you have been flogging the water for a long time that you take a break and just take some time to simply watch what is going on. Think about how your fly is fishing and perhaps consider changing the depth you are fishing at by changing line or adding a sinking tip. Try to resit the temptation of swapping flies too often, select one or two patterns which you have confidence in and stick to them. Try backing up the pools instead of ‘normal’ casting. Fish until it gets dark – the last 30 minutes of light are usually the best period of the day

5. Dead low water

The Owenduff showing its bones

Low water daunts some fishers. With little flow to move the flies they struggle to find ways of moving grilse. Here are some possible strategies to consider when faced with summer lows.

We all accept that low water means small flies but how small can you go? The answer is very small indeed. Trout flies catch a lot of salmon every season so I carry some trout size 10’s and 12’s with me and tucked away in a corner a couple of tiny size 14 and 16 trout doubles. Use them carefully.

On the other hand salmon are funny creatures and something totally outrageous may bring a strike. A deep pool can be searched with a fierce big fly, something like a 2 inch tube for example. Don’t waste a lot of time with this tactic, if it is going to work it will happen quickly!

The main chances of a fish in very low water will occur at daybreak and again at sunset. try to arrange your fishing around these two times and it will pay of handsomely.

There you go, a few ideas to try out when all else fails and you hit the angling wall. Hope that helps a little!



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