Understanding How Trout Feed

Posted: September 27, 2010 by bluequillangler in Fishing Colorado
Tags: , , , , ,

Probably one of the most fascinating things is to see a trout rise and take an insect off of the surface.  The most frustrating thing is casting to where the ring was, matching the hatch perfect and coming up empty.  Hopefully the following explanations of trout rise forms will help on you next fishing outings. 

There are several different ways that trout feed.  One way is considered to be a Simple Rise which generally occurs during a good hatch and the trout are pretty sure of the type of food floating downstream.  These rises are usually quick and sometimes violent with very little hesitation by the trout.  He will leave his holding area, rise to the surface and either take or refuse the fly, and will always return to his holding area.

Another type of rise is the Compound Rise.  This is similar to the Simple Rise, but it involves a much longer drift from the holding area and longer inspection of the food.  This is caused when the trout has some doubt about the edibility of the food floating by.  The trout will almost always stay with the food, drifting just under the surface at the same rate continuously inspecting the food while deciding whether to take or refuse.  This is why it is important to have a drag-free drift.  Any unusual movement that does not look natural or goes against the current will result in a refusal 90% of the time.  If you notice the trout turn sideways in the current, this is the beginning of a more thorough inspection because there is still to much doubt.  A puddle cast can be very effective in getting the long drag-free drift required in this situation.  At some point or another the trout will make the final decision to take the fly or refuse and move back to his holding area. 

The third type of rise is the Complex Rise which occurs when there is extreme doubt in the trout mind about the food type drifting overhead.  As with the compound rise the trout will begin drifting downstream or across stream with the fly giving it a thorough inspection.  If there is excessive drag on the fly or the trout believes it is an inedible object, the trout will immediately refuse and return to the holding area.  If the drift is good, and the trout is still interested but very doubtful, he will allow the fly to begin floating away from him.  It is now time for a decision.  If he refuses, he will return to his holding area.  However, if he does decide to take, the trout will turn facing downstream in a very fast motion and begin his pursuit.  Once you see a trout displaying this pursuit, he will never refuse it.

Hopefully this will help you understand that when a trout rises, he is generally not sitting under the ring he left waiting for his next morsel of food.  When you make a cast, make sure you land the fly far enough above that last rise form or your cast may fall short of where the fish is holding or you may land directly on top of the fish and spook him.  

One of the most important things is the drag free float when you are fishing over finicky fish.  If you cannot achieve the drift you need from where you are fishing, try moving upstream and fish back down to where the trout is holding.


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