The best tip that I have for trout fishing is that it is all about the “drift”. By that, I mean the way the fly or bait is presented to the fish. Those big fish didn’t get that way from making a bad feeding decision! They are wary by nature, and they have certain innate feeding habits. A lot of people don’t realize that the bait should drift into where the fish is sitting as though it were naturally drifting along without being connected to a line and pole, just as if it fell into the creek upstream a ways. If I see someone with too large a pole, too heavy of line, or too much weight, I know I am looking at someone who is going to have a very unproductive fishing experience.
As a rule, the least weight that you use to cast the creek, the better. If the creek is raging white water dropping into a fast moving pool, such as when you are steelhead fishing from the shore, you might need over a half ounce of weight, whereas if you are fishing that same creek after the rains and snow melt, you might find yourself using only the weight of the bait itself, which is best in my opinion. If your line is too heavy, it takes more weight to cast it and it takes more lift of your pole to take up the slack in the line or adjust it’s position. Too much weight and your bait “drags” along the bottom, stopping un-naturally as it is washed down stream, and you are going to lose a lot of tackle from snagging in the rocks. If your line is too heavy, when you take up the slack for the drift or try to flick your line upstream so the bait is presented before the line, which is important, the bait is dragged sideways un-naturally, which is also not appealing to the fish.
Also, you can’t expect, in most cases, to have the bait drift naturally into the particular area of the creek that you intend to fish unless your cast upstream from that place far enough to allow the natural drift pattern to develop, after accounting for you adjusting the line and taking up the slack. And, you have to know that a good portion, but not too much, of your line must float or drift on the creek in order to even hope to present a natural bait to the fish. I wrote a more in depth article on this, now that I think about it in the blogs at http://www.fishnfools.com that you should look at. It is probably a little more organized than this as I was just surfing and had this thought.
Anyway, to add one more important thought here, it is imperative that you not fish any creek too fast if you are walking the banks or drifting in a drift boat. Some people fail to recognize that any particular portion of the creek has little nooks and crannies all over it from bank to bank and that each will more than likely take a separate cast to properly fish. Each cast should be specifically aimed at a certain eddy, riffle, plant, or undercut bank and you will find yourself maybe only stepping a few steps in either direction to be positioned to make that perfect drift. And, generally, you will be casting upstream at about the 10 o’clock position.
Now, I know that different trout feed differently and the same ones feed differently at different times of day, but this tip is a good one to know for any angler. The alternative is just going out and thrashing at the creek like a maniac and running ahead of your fellow fishermen and women, scaring the fish, and ruining the fishing trip for everyone! That might be the last time you are invited!