Action! At Last Light. Stack the deck in your Favor!
Have you ever truly realized the potential of flyfishing in low light conditions? Large trout have a tendency to feed more actively in dim conditions. The cover of darkness is a great way for trout to avoid predators and take advantage of food sources that becomes available under these conditions. These food sources can be comprised of various mayfly spinners in a whole array of sizes. Some spinners can come in very small sizes and can be hard to spot lying flat on the water so keep your eyes peeled and look at the water closely if you are not sure of their presence. Some mayflies hatch right into darkness and patterns that imitate them are excellent pattern choices. Take Isonychia for example, the duns can continue to emerge right into total darkness and throughout the night. I love to fish these bad boys in size 10-12 after dusk while listening to the fish come up and sip well into nightfall. Sipping trout actually make a slurping sound when feeding. Listening is a very effective way of detecting strikes in this night game.
Low light conditions also eliminate many obstacles between fishermen and the feeding trout. First it allows you to use much larger tippet sizes because of the low visibility. The increased breaking strength of a heavier tippet is always handy when trying to land larger trout. Next, fish aren’t as easily spooked by your flyline and leader landing near them. As they feed on naturals and the light decreases, they are comforted by a darkened sky and the natural presence of fewer fishermen. Many have already left the water when the action starts ramping up. Fish typically develop a rhythm of picking off insects as they float in the drift. At times the feeding frenzy can be furious leaving them vulnerable to a well placed fly.
This low light condition is not specific to nighttime, it also applies to early morning when the sun hasn’t fully risen. Fish can feed heavily on spinners in the early morning hours, creating a wonderful opportunity to get on some heavy fish. Many trout cruise pocket water and back eddies during early morning hours slurping up spinners and any insects left from the night before. There’s nothing like leftovers! Some types of Caddis become active in the morning causing trout to opportunistically feed on Caddis larvae and pupae during the wee hours of the morning. These make excellent fly choices.
Often large trout cannot be seen sipping insects from long distances as the light recedes or reappears, causing many fly fisherman to overlook a subtle take from a large trout or simply not see them feeding at all. Don’t let this happen to you. When darkness moves in or the sun is far from rising over the mountains, move quietly and slowly to feeding trout. The goal being to perfectly present your fly at shorter distances with laser like precision; Meanwhile staying ever keen using your other senses to detect the presence of nearby gently sipping trout. The next time your on the water and the sun is on its way up or down put this logic to good use and take away the trouts instinctive advantages over you. With a little luck you will put a few more trout in your net. Good luck!