In the first part of this series, we looked at modern takes on fishing journals, how quick, easy and phenomenally useful these can be. If you’ve not read it, check it out here.
Here, in part 2, I’m going to suggest options you can use to update/improve fish location. This is possibly the single most powerful area of fishing you can improve. When you know where the feeding fish are, you can ensure your fly spends more time there. Net result, you will catch more fish!
Firstly, it’s become common place to use everyday software like google maps and google earth to find fishing venues. Then take a closer look at waters before you visit for the first time. Very often you can see some significant features that hold feeding fish before you ever visit. This is a tremendous asset, you have ideas of where to go before you leave home. Couple this with a quick search for up to date fishing reports and you are well on the way to a successful trip.
Once waterside you can find additional features (old school style) by looking into margins with polaroid sunglasses and also plumbing the depth. One way of doing this is casting a sinking line and counting how long it takes to reach bottom. You can also use you fly rod or a plumb line from a boat and make notes from viewing a venue in high and low water conditions over time. (Note you can use the modern journaling technique discussed in part 1 effectively for this too.)
The header image for this article is from my 1997 fishing journal (old school) and shows a sketch from a lake I fished a few times that year. It includes a number of key features I discovered, all of which appealed to feeding fish.
Today you can map water much faster and find many more features easily using a portable fish finder. Previously the must have gadget for boat anglers, they’ve been available for several years as a castable device that sends feedback directly to your phone. A real shortcut to the learning curve, so you become much more successful sooner.
It’s easy to knock the use of these devices, if you you feel that way about them, don’t use them. A recent experience I had proved interesting to me at least, this is what happened.
I was waterside with a client taking his first day of fly fishing. Another angler who knew me approached us, having enjoyed a successful morning. He was super enthusiastic about how much he had learned in very little time, after recently starting to use a castable fish/depth finder. What he used it for was to analyse areas where either he saw fish, caught fish or observed others catching. Nearly every time he located a holding feature. He felt that after fly fishing occasionally for over 30 years (self taught) he understood fish location and it’s importance.
I was delighted to hear this and congratulated him. As he walked away however my client asked if I felt cheated. After all I have spent decades building up layers of watercraft knowledge for many venues. He felt earning this the “hard way” would be better. My reply was and remains, we have numerous options of acquiring such knowledge and always have had. The other angler had waited 30 years to realise the most important function in fly fishing success, he deserves his new found knowledge and perhaps reflects on what might have been, had he found it earlier! The fact my clients choose to hire me is to shortcut the learning curve and make the most of limited time. The technology is just another tool in your box.
The fact we have more options now to choose from is a good thing. It means people can learn faster using methods that work for them. Most people do not choose to devote 10% of the time to fly fishing that guides and top anglers do. So being able to achieve reasonable success in limited time with technology aiding you can only be good, right?