Catching big trophy fish is often the goal we hope to reach.
It can sometimes happen by surprise or by luck.
But catching bigger fish regularly is what makes the difference between the men and the boys and between the women and the girls.
Big fish are at the top of the food chain, and they didn’t get there by chance.
Usually they're clever, wary, and opportunistic.
How can a fly angler put this to good use?
1. Base your fly choice on the water temperature.
Big flies don’t always catch big fish, you have to offer what the fish wants.
In general, the water temperature and the season will dictate what to put at the end of your tippet.
Big flies in moderate temperatures.
Nothing is big enough for any kind of Esox.
I go here from only from personal experiences guiding here in Ireland.
When the water temperature facilitates a quick digestion ( 46º to 57º Fahrenheit or 8º to 14º Celsius) and the time of the year is at a peak (usually early spring and late fall) is when I throw big single and double-hook articulated flies.
Only your shoulders and arms will dictate how long can you fish these in sometimes difficult conditions (it's windy here most of the time).
Small flies in extreme temperatures.
My personal best have been taken on the smallest flies in my box, and this at a time in the season when the fish are usually lethargic.
Summer with high water temperatures or the middle of winter, fishing deep and slow.
I remember a trip to the Innoko in Alasksa where the water temperatures were unusually hot, and the fish just wanted small bunnies (and they were big fish over there).
2. Slow down and pause your stripping action.
Most people strip way too fast for a big girl to chase the fly.
In general, the fish look at the prey, and have a little think if it's worth chasing.
Sure, it's a good technique for small pike, but for big fish I have a golden rule: slow down and pause.
Pause, stop, pause, and stop!
You can’t pause long enough for big mama.
You can still strip fast or in an aggressive way, but please do pause, for as long as you can afford.
We're lucky as fly anglers because the flies we use are still attractive to fish on a stop. They sink slowly, feathers and flash keep moving, and its not unusual to get a hit on the pause .Keep your line tight to feel any takes and react quickly.
3. Be consistent!
This is where we see the guys that constantly catch bigger fish.
Targeting big fish is hard work. There are less of them in the water, which translates to less hits and less follows.
Only the most stubborn fly anglers get results.
The ones that keep their fly in the zone, and still keep at it even after a fruitless day.
Usually trophy fish like drop-offs and covers, where on one side they can find food and on the other, shelter and security.
The fly angler can easily get bored and frustrated and will start changing their attitude to get a quick fix… This is when the pauses are slowly forgotten and we start to fish closer to the shore, resulting in hookups but smaller fish.
There are never any golden rules in going after a new personal best, but in my experience, slow down!
Tease that big fish into a good meal!
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About Norbert Renaud:
Norbert was born in France, but has lived in Ireland for most of his life. His father came to Ireland for fishing in the late 1960s and passed the bug onto him. Living in an area that holds 365 lakes and rivers, it's easy to get addicted to fishing. There are little predator species locally to chase on the fly: trout, perch, or pikes… His choice is very easy. He runs L'ile Verte Fishing Lodge and when not behind the stove cooking for the clients, he's either guiding, tying flies, or fishing for himself.