I grabbed my fly rod and told my clients to continue casting while I crept around to the opposite side of the slough. The brush and grass were thick and nearly impenetrable; not a place to take my clients, but I wanted to take a closer look at these fish and see their reaction to my clients' flies. I sometimes did this while guiding. A quick observation or tweak in technique could make the difference in having a 10 silver day or 60 silver day. I crawled through the thick brush to the edge of the water. The mosquitos were nearly unbearable, testing my ability to stay focused on the task at hand and keep a calm composure. The silvers were stacked on top of each other, nearly motionless, with glazed eyes as the egg sucking leeches swam past their faces. I unhooked my leech and crimped a split shot on the nose of it. A small silver lay close to a rods length away from me; a prime candidate for a technique experiment. I dropped the fly off the tip of the rod and began twitching, moving the fly in an up and down motion. In a flash, two silvers nearly 10 feet away charged for my fly, practically fighting to inhale it. The jigging motion had been the key.
Over the years, I've learned how deadly the up and down motion, or "jigging", is to fish. The conventional tackle world has been onto this for years, but fly anglers and manufacturers are just now tapping into this world. I'm going to outline a few tips for catching more trout on your jig-head streamers, and a few tactics for you to use in different scenarios.
The Fly Patterns
Put it under an indicator!
When stripping streamers, make sure you keep your rod tip low to the surface of the water. It will help you stay tight to your fly, allowing you to detect subtle strikes. You my even keep the tip of your fly rod dipped under the water to maintain full contact with your streamer.
The quick strip is the retrieve I use the most. This is 6-12 inch strips, followed by 1-2 second pauses in between those strips. This is all you need to get your fly performing a jigging action. This retrieve is very versatile and can be used in both stillwater and rivers. It can be fished with floating, sinking, or sink tip fly lines.
When fishing deep runs and drop offs in faster water, I use what I call the "mend-strip". This retrieve only works with a floating line. Cast your fly approximately 45 degrees upstream and throw a quick mend in the line to help your fly get deep. Strip in the slack line as your fly starts to drift downstream, then throw a small mend in the line. This will move your fly slightly, but keep it deep at the same time. These small mends will give a jigging action to your streamer, but won’t bring your fly up and out of the deeper water column. Repeat the small mends while maintaining your fly line slack, making small trips for control. Since you aren't always tight to your fly, a take may register as a movement in the end of your fly line.