When trout are feeding near the surface they displace water with their movements. The way in which the water moves tell us about what has just happened. With experience, a rise can tell us some, if not all, of the following:
- What food item the fish has just taken.
- The depth at which the foods item was in relation to the water surface.
- Which direction the fish was and is now travelling in.
- What depth it is cruising.
- What speed it is moving at.
- It's size
- And sometimes whether it is a brown or a rainbow.
Understanding the language of rises can triple your catch rate some summer evenings. I will deal with the food side a little later. Let us consider some of the others:
- Fish direction: surface rises are generally egg shaped. The fish is travelling towards the blunt end with the rare exception of case (2)
- When a trout rises from deeper water (rare) his angle is steeper and he tends to hit the surface with a force, which causes the ripples to bulge. In this case the fish travels in exactly the opposite direction to the ripple shape suggested in (1) Confused. Don't worry, we all get it from time to time.
- The speed of the trout; faster moving trout create more surface disturbance.
- Large fish disturb the water much less than smaller fish (!) This is partly because small fish have to turn slightly on their side to take in the fly. The smallest dimples of rises can often be huge fish….or fry.
- I believe, although I haven't read it to be the case or otherwise, that rainbows rise at a different angle to browns. I could be wrong and there might be other explanations, such as different cruising depths - but still the rise form would be different. I think browns rise at a steeper angle than rainbows.
On one of those really splendid evenings when a general rise takes place, knowing this sort of stuff can really come in handy since it is possible to selectively cast to the larger fish.
The rise forms displayed by trout vary according to the species of fly taken, these variations are covered the descriptions of the natural insects. Being able to identify these variations gives clues as to which fly we should be fishing. I sometimes fish three dries on the same leader: a typical team for June being a dry sedge on the top dropper, a shipman's in the middle, with a suspender buzzer on the point.
The sedge imitation is self-explanatory. The shipman's imitates an adult buzzer. The suspender imitates the buzzer pupa just prior to emergence. With this team it is possible, with accurate casting, to present in front of the fish, a fly of the sort which he has just taken. Although not essential, I believe it accounts for more taken fish than the standard approach, which is to cast the middle dropper to the fish. Indeed, given the choice, I would much rather offer the fish the point fly since tangles are less likely. However, all said and done, this sort of fishing requires both a high standard of casting and experience of rise forms.
When covering fish try to put the fly just outside it's window of vision. There are occasions when dropping the fly on the fishes head, as it were, receives an immediate response, however, in general it is best to allow the fish to discover the fly all by himself. Exactly where you place the fly in relation to the rise depends on two factors:
- The first is the speed of the trout (discernable from the rise, with experience)
- The second is the speed of the fly delivery
The minimum distance ahead of the rise is usually around three feet. Two points of significance follow:
- The first is that you should always cover a rising fish
- The second is that covering should be done with as much haste as possible.