Picky trout in the Swedish mountain region

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

The trout is always on my mind and the winter marks a period of dreams and anticipation for the coming fly fishing season here in Sweden. As this period lasts for almost 8 months one could guess the excitement when the waters open up and the flies start to hatch on the rivers. This year me and my good friend from Stockholm decided to visit a mountain region that we hadn't fished for a couple years. We got information that the spring flood with melting snow from the mountains were slowing down and the waters were getting warmer. The fishing started to offer really good dry fly fishing on mayflies and caddis. Said and done, we got in the cars and drove another 200km north to the cabin which was our home for the coming days.

The river we were fishing is a meandering crystal clear river with faster riffles and slow running waters. We decided to go a bit up the river and after walking and reconnaissance we found this stretch that seemed interesting. We decided to sit down and wait and shortly thereafter we saw fish rising. We know the fishing in this river is down to long leaders, at least 14-15 foot leaders with a tippet diameter down to at least 0.14mm, preferably even smaller like 0.12mm and fluorocarbon. It's also down to lightly dressed flies with no bulk and heavily wrapped hackles.

There was this specific fish rising consistently that got most of our attention. He was feeding in this sharp curve in the far bank, a perfect place as the water (i.e the food) was pushed towards this bank. We took our time studying him and we were carefully no to scare him. Joakim got down on his knees sneaking out on the sand bank and slinged his Aurivilli imitation in front of the fish but no reaction. We knew he was feeding mostly right below the surface but as dry fly fishermen we wanted to lure him up to the surface. We took turns, and as he didn't show interest in Joakims fly I got the chance to throw a black CDC fly that had worked well the day before, still no interest..We didn't scare him, he was still feeding and we took turns switching flies and finally Joakim shifted his focus to another fish further down while I still couldn't give up the thought of hooking this guy.

When the fish is feeding right below the surface it can sometimes be frustrating figuring out what to offer in terms of the fly. There's a problem that needs to be solved to we had to do some thinking and using our experiences from similar moments before. We knew there were Aurivilli, Baetis and Caddis hatching at the moment in this river and I had this Baetis CDC Emerger I had tied up a couple weeks before, supposed to ride with the abdomen below the surface film and the CDC wing right above. I decided to give this last fly a chance before giving up. The trout we're standing in the same spot, it was a space 10x10cm where the water almost created a sort of vacuum, probably an underwater stone or deep pocket and I threw the fly out a couple meters in front of where the fish were standing. When it went right over this pocket the fly slowed down considerably and I knew. This was it. I could almost feel the fish rising and I saw his head slowly breaking the surface and sipping down my low riding emerger down.

It was a fantastic day, we lost a couple great fish as well who broke our thin leaders but at the end of the day, it if was too easy we would be doing something else other than fly fishing. What we do know is that if you're fishing for picky trout in crystal clear waters there's three tips:

  1. Use long leaders with a thin tippet

  2. Go in to ninja stealth mode

  3. Use light dressed flies

Take care, tight lines!

Joel Skoghäll

Habitats Fly Fishing Co

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