Fly Fishing Tips and Tricks- Analysing Trout Rise Forms

a real gem from Alan Bulmer at Active Angling New Zealand for your trout-hunting pleasure. Alan proposes that rise form recognition is ‘a lost skill’ and even if it isn’t completely lost, it’s a subject that’s rarely touched upon in contemporary fly fishing literature whether that be in print, on the net or among anglers themselves.
in a roundabout way, the average fly fisher will see a rise or rings and assume that the fish is feeding on or in the surface film and instantly tie on a dry fly or emerger but the keen observer will notice that there’s a lot more to it than that.
as we’ve previously seen in How fish eat, and how Alan astutely points out at the end of his piece, “The peculiarities of a rise form are not easy to observe. Often it cannot be said with certainty what fly has been taken; the rings of each pattern proceed so rapidly outwards that the pattern is always in a state of change”, as with most things in life, there are no absolutes and there’s always countless, unavoidable variables but the more we know, the better we can react to that knowledge and simply get better at what we do while feeling a bit more fulfilled.
all this hopefully inciting to spend more time observing and not just randomly looking, this article’s subject is about trout but the same principles with a few variations of course can be applied to other insect-eating fish.

here’s a few morsels to wet your appetite:

“There is one chapter in particular which is fascinating and that is a sixteen page treatise on analysing rise forms. This chapter summarises much of what had been learned through observation by the masters*, GEM Skues, Harding, Lamond and Taverner himself. These fly fishermen pioneered the sport and their observational and analytical skills were legendary. This book was published in their hey day so it must have been cutting edge at the time.
bulge rise
Back in the day analysing trout rise forms was considered a necessary skill for dry fly and nymph fishermen. Those skilled in the art could look at a surface disturbance, characterise it as bulging, humping, tailing, sucking, sipping, slashing, pyramid, kidney, head and tail, porpoise roll or spotted ring and accurately determine what the trout was feeding on and where in the water column it was feeding. In some cases they even counted the number of tiny bubbles appearing within the ring formed as the trout rose to determine what fly to use. This is a skill which I fear may no longer be in the repertoire of most anglers.”

rise-table

click on either image for the complete article. this is really-really good stuff, enjoy !

* note how there’s absolutely no mention of the redundant Halford

How fish eat

schullery_rise_2
fascinating stuff here from Smarter Every Day via The Ozark Fly Fisher Journal showing us just how cool and more importantly, how our slimy friends have adapted and evolved their eating methods through time.

i’d found the image above years ago on the net (sorry, no source) where the explanation behind it was that in many cases, trout will suck in a bug from quite a distance through a vortex created by opening the mouth and thrusting the water out through the gills effectively sucking the prey in instead of munching down on the meal with its teeth as most of us mammals do.
the videos below show and explain this action in high-quality slomo video confirming the ‘vortex’ method of feeding.
note that this method is mostly used by toothless or smaller-toothed fish. in the case of trout, a lot of bugs and smaller stuff will get sucked in and use their teeth when they go for forage fish.
an example of a (very) toothed fish that clamps its prey are pike. they’ll typically chomp, grab and hold their prey for a while until its stunned and later turn it so its facing them and then swallow it whole. yum !

but then, some fish aren’t all that smart and sometimes they get a little confused on which technique to use…
fish eat fish