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3 Ways to Catch Bigger Fish

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

We all want to catch more and bigger fish when we go fly fishing. The challenge is, more and bigger aren't always perfectly compatible. Sometimes, you have to give up some numbers to get to the big boys and girls.

Photo copyright Brodie Buchanan

Stunted Growth is Real

On some bodies of water, an abundance of food and a lack of predation can lead to overpopulation. And with overpopulation, comes less food. With less food, comes stunted growth. That leads us to one place, and one place only… hordes of “little guys” that don’t give your fly a chance to even get in front of the bigger fish. For some, the idea of catching too many fish could sound comical. But if you’re focused on catching trophy fish, or are sick of catching fish the size of your hand, this can be a real pain-point. Here are some tips to get more “quality bites” out on the water:

1. Go Big or Go Home

This seems obvious, and it is. But it’s true: big baits catch big fish. Sure, you’ll probably have some small fish hit a bait almost as big as them (far more common with bass and pike), but generally your bites will decrease in frequency and increase in size.

Photo by Colin McKeown via

2. Target Prime Lies

Much like the world we live in, there is a hierarchy to the trout stream. The biggest fish are atop the pecking order, and will be found in the best spots, in the best feeding lanes, with. As anglers targeting bigger fish, we want to really hone in on the types of spots that are “no-doubters”. These are the places where the confluence of current seams bring an abundance of food right to a protected, sheltered area, usually of sufficient depth. In rivers that are packed with small fish, the prime lies will undoubtedly be home to the fish you’re trying to target.

3. Move Downriver

In the mid to upper sections of most rivers, fish tend to run a bit smaller. This is due to differences in biological productivity (especially in headwaters), water depth, and current speed. In the downstream sections, water is slower and warmer, but baitfish comprise a larger portion of fish’s diets. As a result, there may be fewer coldwater species (trout), but those that you’ll find will be well-fed. Trophy Browns in particular are often caught in downstream areas overlooked by many fly anglers.

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