For most Americans brown trout offer the most accessible trophy trout fishing available. Browns can exceed 30 inches in length and routinely grow to attain trophy status. Brown trout also have a certain historical and cultural significance for fly fishermen. Early fly fishing was largely developed in Europe to fool wily browns. Catching browns, especially trophy browns, requires a bit more attention to detail than your average stocker rainbow. Here are my top 5 tips for catching big browns.
5. Big Fish Eat Big Food
For many trout anglers a #8 wooly booger might be the largest fly in their arsenal. That makes a good starting point for browns, but don’t be afraid to break out some of your bass flies for truly large browns. Brown trout are meat eaters, they want a significant meal. Stripping large streamers or mouse patterns are great for huge browns, but don’t expect big numbers of fish. I like to fish a #6 stonefly nymph or leech for browns as it offers me an opportunity to catch plenty of fish in the 12-16″ range with bigger fish mixed in.
4. The Sun is not Your Friend
Brown trout do not like sunlight. They generally hide in the shade of woody debris or rock overhangs. If it is a bright, sunny day you will find brown trout to be very difficult to catch. Rainy, overcast days are best. Large brown trout are also often nocturnal, so the first and last hour of daylight is often your best chance at a trophy. If night fishing is safe and legal on your favorite waters it can be a great way to spend a summer evening.
3. Fish High Flows
During increased flow from rain or a hydroelectic discharge streams carry significantly more food. Studies have shown that these high flow events can trigger a feeding frenzy for brown trout gorging on the increased invertebrate drift. High flows also usually mean dingy water, which blocks out sunlight and can increase feeding behavior. Stonefly nymphs excel as they are often washed from the stream bottom in high flows. Target areas behind rocks and debris that can offer a feeding lie for browns outside of torrential currents. Always remember to take proper precautions in high flows and be careful not to put yourself in dangerous situations.
2. Stay Connected
Big fish require a little extra care from the angler. Fishing a #2 streamer on 7x tippit is going to cause problems for obvious reasons. Be sure your leader and tippit are up for the challenge. Strong knots and a smooth drag are also key. When you finally hook that fish of a lifetime you don’t want to break him off because you weren’t prepared. Check and double check your connections between the reel and the fly.
1. Match the Hatch
Brown trout have a reputation for being extremely selective. In high water and low light scenarios they can become more active and less cautious. But kitchen passes don’t always happen when conditions are perfect, so you will probably need to match the available food items. While browns do prefer larger meals, if smaller bugs are abundant they will feed heavily on them. When you do get that kitchen pass don’t be caught on the stream without the patterns you need to match the hatch. If you aren’t already a member of the Monthly Fly team do yourself a favor and check it out. We will send the right flies to your door every month, for only $.60 per fly! Our Match the Hatch subscription selects the specific flies you will need to catch those wily browns. Join today and get 10 flies for free.