Seven tips on fly fishing by Stevie Munn.

I could go on all day , In fact I could maybe do a small book of tips for fly fishing ,so I am going to give you just seven that will hopefully help improve your catch rate.

To become a good fly fisher , firstly you must learn to cast , but I am not going to call that a tip as to me it seems obvious. I teach a lot of people and I am still amazed, just how many anglers have bad technique or habits in casting, this is nothing to be ashamed off as it can be fixed, it really does pay to find a good casting coach to help you with this. Although I have now been a fly fishing instructor for many years , I myself took some lessons when I was sitting my instructor courses and it helped me a lot . I have now showed 1000s of anglers including many that had been fishing for years how to cast better, many say, I wish I had of got some lessons of you years ago. Ok once we can cast here is some of my top tips for fly fishing that will increase your catches.


Number one tip for me is try and be as silent as possible . Walk softly, fish are as sensitive to noise and vibration as they are to visual warnings. Walking lightly on the river banks and trying to wade slowly and quietly are very important tactics. In Stillwater’s or Loughs , noisy or rocking boats scare fish also. Remember you are trying to fool a wild animal that you are not around. I recall when I was fishing with my father when I was very little , possibly as young as 6 or 7 years of age , he taught me a valuable lesson about being stealthy. I was excitably running along the river bank while we where fishing, so he shouted at me telling me of , move slowly he shouted walk lightly, trout can hear . I thought he was mad trout don’t have ears I have seen them, I did not know back then about lateral lines, which is the sense organ fish use to detect movement and vibration in the surrounding water. Latter that night while I was having a bath he came in pushed my head under the water and banged the side of the bath with his fist. Then let me up for air ( thankfully ) and said, trout hear and feel vibrations. I am not saying you half drown your children when teaching them to fish, but that lesson stuck in my head and it definitely made me catch more trout. So be quiet .


Tip two. Use your eyes to see what insects are in or on the water , If you see what is the most abundant bug on the river or lake it’s a good chance that’s that what your trout maybe eating . Its not always the case as it could be a time of year they are on small fish or they are maybe being selective, perhaps picking out a certain insect, sometimes even at a stage of life, say for instance an emerging fly . But that said if you match the hatch or find what the trout of eating and try to copy it you will certainly do much better. There are many books and information on the web now to help you with this . I remember as a youth looking at an excellent book, Trout Fly Recognition , by the late great English fly fisher John Goddard, this really helped me a lot. I was lucky enough to meet John in latter life and tell him . So that’s tip two try and match the hatch and remember size of fly is important an although my favourite type of fishing is perhaps dry fly fishing . At times we must think subsurface for trout. At least two-thirds of the diet of trout maybe more, is taken under the water not on it . Even if you do like me prefer dry fly fishing, knowing what nymphs, larvae and crustaceans are available beneath the surface with help you decide on fly selection.


Tip three. Leader Length . When learning to cast nine-foot leaders are perhaps the standard. As your technique improves some situations can often call for longer leaders for example when fishing dry flies on Stillwater’s , Loughs and rivers, or wet fly fishing from a boat longer leaders are needed and more flies are often fished. You need 12 to and much as 20 feet at times . That said at time a sorter leader is also useful as on rivers when fishing streamers this often requires no more than 7-8 feet of leader material, and shorter leaders make casting heavy flies easier. Also when your using a sinking line on a river it often pays to get your flies down at a similar speed . So experiment with your leader length from time to time.


Tip Four. On large rivers and Stillwater’s when fishing from the bank, search the close water first. A regular mistake is to cast over fish in the excitement of making a long cast. Lots of my fish are caught with quite short casts . At times we do need to cast long but more often than not short casts catch the fish. Its also a lot easier to set the hook.


Tip Five. Avoiding being broken, I often see many anglers saying a was smashed or my hook straightened. It has happened to me a few times in my life when a fish has destroyed me and I could tell you some great stories about being broke by massive fish, but not often. Most anglers use far to stiff a rod and don’t let the fish run while playing them, playing a good fish takes practice , the trick is to be firm but not to firm. Practice keeping your rod at a 45-degree or lesser angle so you are playing the fish with most of the rod not just the tip. When you think about it a fly rod is just a spring and acts as a shock absorber while hooking and playing fish.


Tip Six. Stalking Fish, approach low , use any cover you can like long grass , rushes and bushes . Try if possible to keep a low profile especially on high banks with the skyline behind you. Remember fish that are deep can see you from farther away than fish that are close to the surface, this is due to how they see, they have amazing vision. Their ability to see is uniquely adapted to locate food and distinguish predators from above, both things that anglers should consider. I also like not to wear bright or

vivid fishing clothing , try and blend into your surroundings.


Tip Seven. I should have maybe put this one in first . Stay safe , I could list so many things here , most are common sense. But make sure you wear sunglasses and a hat always to protect your eyes . Good quality polarized sunglasses like Costas which are my favourite, also help with spotting fish and most importantly help me when I am wading, spotting rocks, deep holes and underwater structure. I remember last year while hosting a trip in Norway fishing a big river in sunny conditions my sunglasses cut though the glair of the sun reflecting on the water and identified many obstacles.

We should always be careful wading I cannot stress that enough and I only wade if I need to. I see a lot of anglers wading unnecessary. And always use a wading belt it may save your life someday.

I hope these tips help you enjoy your fishing . Tight lines .

Game Angling Consultant Stevie Munn works full time as a fishing guide, writer and qualified game angling instructor in fly casting and fly tying, he has also appeared in many angling books, magazines and DVDs and gives casting demonstrations at angling events all over the world. He has fished many places in the world and grew up fishing on rivers and loughs of Ireland where he often guides. He runs teaching courses in Ireland and host groups to fish in BC Canada, Norway, Argentina and other parts of the world. You can contact him via email and for more information visit


Stevie Munn

Pro Fly Dresser Stevie Munn is from Co. Antrim in N.Ireland, he has fly fished all his life and grew up fishing rivers and loughs in Ireland. He is a qualified Advanced Professional Game Angling Instructor in Fly Tying and Fly Casting with APGAI-Ireland, and a APGAI fly casting instructor. He teaches fly casting and fly tying to all levels from beginner to advanced and has given lessons at many schools and clubs.

Stevie has been a Professional guide for many years for trout, salmon and a lough run wild brown trout called the Dollaghan which runs his local rivers to spawn, that said he will fish for any fish that will take a fly and also loves fly fishing in the sea. He has won many fly fishing competitions though mostly now fishes for pleasure and he has also won fly casting competitions including 2 Accuracy Casting Championships in England and at the CLA game fair 2011 Stevie helped set a new World record in fly casting which was done for the charity Help of Heroes, 141 miles of fly casting with Stevie setting the high score of 627 casts at distance in 30 mins.

Stevie hosts fishing trips worldwide and can help you if you want to fish many places in the world including Canada, Iceland, Norway and Argentina as well as his native Ireland, North and South.

Stevie flies patterns have appeared in many angling books including Malcolm Greenhalgh’s new book ‘A guide to fishing flies from around the World, Stevie also writes articles in many angling magazines including Irish Angler, Total Flyfisher, Trout & Salmon, Flyfishing & Fly Tying and Chasing Silver of which he is the Field Editor in Ireland.

Stevie has given fly tying and casting demos, at many game and fly fairs over the years, including the CLA game fair in England, Angling Ireland, Irish Game Fairs, Dutch Fly Fair, Rio Grande Fly Fishers in TDF, British fly fair International and The Irish Fly Fair .

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