The other day a friend and I were fishing a backwoods lake that held lake trout and brook trout. We went there hoping that the water temperatures would be cold enough for the trout to still be active high in the water column. Other anglers had reported this just a few days earlier. Unfortunately, other commitments prevented us from fishing that lake at that time.
We arrived there to a windy day. As we were fly fishing from a canoe, we soon found out that boat control was difficult and the trout were apparently deeper than we would have preferred. Yes, the water had warmed up.
Luckily, I was using a very fast sink tip line. So I was able to get a progression of flies, first a black muddler, then a Madonna, and finally an olive bead head wooly bugger down deep. But it was only after deft paddling and a bit of rational thought from my friend Ron that it all came together.
Ron reasoned that if he back paddled us to a standstill over the hot spots my line would be able to sink that extra little bit to bottom where we stood a chance of tempting fish. And so it was that we took the only two fish of the day, a chunky 14-inch brook trout and a respectable laker that went somewhere around 18 inches. Using this method, Ron and I missed a few more of those subtle takes too.
Later, when we tried to understand why only one spot on our drift seemed to consistently hold active trout, Ron noticed that a hatch of very tiny caddis flies was coming off. He theorized that the trout that were in the area were there for the emerging pupa. It made good sense to me.
As the season progresses and the water temperatures in our trout lakes get warmer, I tend to rely on good sink tip lines and streamers a whole lot more. Other anglers I know use full sink lines to good effect too. It's not the prettiest type of fly fishing around, but when coupled with the right streamer it can be deadly on bigger trout.
But that technical stuff is just one part of the equation.
You also need to think a bit, as Ron and I did, about where the fish might be, why they are there, and how to best get a fly to them. In this case by using a fast sinking line, a fly that imitated the aquatic stage of a dragon fly, and boat control that allowed it to get into the strike zone.
I guess you could call it deep thinking but I prefer to call it a whole lot of fun.