It appears that more and more anglers are taking up the pursuit of wild trout fishing these days. Obviously, the great attraction is pursuing a wily creature in often spectacular and untamed countryside.
Interestingly, amidst the desolate slopes of towering fells, tiny fingers of water tumble over mossy boulders forming icy cold headwaters. Hiding in the frothing pools small native trout scrape together a modest living. Although shy, these fish will eagerly pounce on a carefully presented fly and, with such rugged terrain making the going as tough as the fishing, there’s a real sense of achievement when a spirited half-pounder comes to hand. Giving the true sense of solitude, this is trout fishing at its most challenging!
Generally speaking, a wild brown trout of a pound weight is considered quite a catch, with three fish to the pound arguably a truer reflection! It’s important then to consider this when choosing a rod outfit. For upland streams and burns an 8' 3-weight fly rod would be ideal and in more exposed areas where a breeze can be expected you’ll be glad of an 8'6" 4-weight outfit. However, if the tree branches and shrubs of a densely wooded area restrict casting, then a shorter rod of 7'-7'6" is a better proposition.
In these sheltered parts there is even scope for a wand like 2-weight rod. Not only will feisty trout give a better account of themselves on such light tackle, flies can be presented with extreme delicacy often resulting in more obliging fish.
Reaching towards the valley floor, converging streams broaden into rivers proper. Here, a longer rod will cope better with wider reaches of water. Stepping up a line rating to a 5-weight wouldn’t hurt as heavy flies needed to search deeper pools will be that much easier to handle. If selecting just a single rod then I would certainly look to a Mid Flex rated Zero G of a 9' 4-weight specification. This rod will cover a range of methods from delivering weighted bugs to presenting diminutive dry flies on long leaders. Although erring on the light side, these rods still possess the required authority to handle the largest of river trout.
Whilst the tapestry of rivers provides us with a wealth of opportunities, let’s not forget stillwaters. The lakes throughout England and Wales, loughs of Ireland and Scottish lochs are home to olive flanked trout with jewel-like spots decorating their backs. Here trout fishing can be enjoyed in complete isolation whilst cautiously wading the shoreline. Forget striving for distance, a modest cast will usually cover prime holding water. Again expect butter bellied fish of 8-12oz with the odd larger specimen thrown in.
Adventurous anglers might like to sample the delights of the upland tarns dotted across our land. More manageable these waters often relinquish a few of their secrets somewhat sooner than that of their larger brethren. Large bushy flies with a hint of flash about them are often required to tempt the robust, muscular trout of these parts. Given calm conditions (practically unheard of at high altitudes), expect to find rising trout that rarely refuse the charms of a carefully placed dry fly.
Whether you aim to fish from bank or boat, having the backbone to cast a team of flies, yet delicate enough for more precise presentation, a 9' 6-weight rod is perhaps the perfect tool. When it comes to loch styling proper, a 10' 7-weight rod affords superior line management for tripping or dibbling flies through the wave (see Page 8 for the Zero G 10' 7-weight rod). If bank fishing, considered the most efficient length for casting, a 9' rod provides a certain crispness that helps combat stubborn headwinds. However, viewed as a compromise rod, one of 9'6" in length will be at home in boat, float tube or on the bank.
Be it running or still water it’s vital to remain mobile when pursuing wild trout. Fly boxes, tippet spools, snips, floatant, sinkant, forceps, torch, landing and a trusty pair of polarized glasses can all be housed in the Convertible Tech Vest. For excursions into the hills or further afield the Orvis safe passage anglers backpack, a pair of stout walking boots, map and compass will be invaluable.
Orvis Fly-Fishing Consultant and Writer