We have heard it a thousand times, trout eat 90% of their food sub surface. Many anglers, including myself, have had this saying bolstered by our on the water experiences so many times that nymphing has become the go to method to catch trout in a river. What happens though, when the trout, or only a few trout are looking for that perfectly dead drifted nymph that we strive so hard to present?
The fact is, there are more times than we may realize, when nymphing is not the way to experience our most successful day on the water. While the majority of the trout do probably eat 90% of their food below the surface, the saying does not tell the whole story. Species composition, the nature of individual rivers, the time of year, and what food source the fish are targeting are all variables that will determine what the most successful method of fly fishing will be on a particular day. It is our task as anglers to figure out the daily puzzle and depending on our goals, use the tactics that will produce the best experience. To me, this is what makes fly fishing so interesting. Being a versatile and dynamic angler will usually out perform a one trick pony. Like the river we stand in, no two days are the same. Let's dig into some of the variables that will push the odds of catching fish on a dry fly, streamer, or wet fly greater than if only nymph fishing.