by Guide Blog


There comes a time of year when we have to change tactics and target fry feeding trout. Often around the end of May trout will go off the buzzer, there are just not enough. And when they do, they go off the feed totally. The problem is there’s not an abundance of anything to eat anymore. So for a better description, these trout, go on the ‘Mooch’!

It’s not the most productive time of year to be on the water, and you tend to scratch about for takes that are very few and far between. But don’t give up hope, the next abundant food source is on its way, get ready for the Pinfry!

At the start of the year, either straight-lining buzzers or using them on droppers with a washing line set up pretty much guarantees a good day on the water. However, trout that are feeding on pin fry present a far trickier problem. Catching  fry feeding trout-feeding trout takes some watercraft, fishing knowledge and a whole heap of other incidentals if you want to guarantee consistent success.

Finding The Fish

Luckily for us, the trout give themselves away big time at -Pinfry time – of year. You watch, and with the slightest bit of cloud cover, they are up and swirling, bulging at the surface as they barrel into the vast clouds of Pinfry, engulfing this plentiful, protein packed food source! It’s so exciting I can’t even begin to tell you.

You’ll see the trout causing a commotion in the water’s surface pretty much all over the lake. They’ll be in and around the edges, herded close to any structure or even out in the middle of open water. These tiny Pinfry are often at the mercy of currents as they are pushed and pulled all over the place. So finding them is crucial. As I said, the trout will give themselves away, so don’t worry too much on that front.

If they don’t – trust me, that’s a rarity – the methods that I’m going to go over in this Blog, fished pretty much anywhere on the lake should bring about a successful outcome!

Stuck In A Rut

What the majority of anglers do when this feeding phenomena occurs is basically lose the plot! They see the trout moving and cast at them, and they just don’t seem to care what’s on the end of the line. Usually, a lure of some type, Blob, Cat, Cormorant, no matter, they just cast, retrieve like a mad man and hope for the best. They will use a scatter gun approach, targeting one fish 10 yards at a 2 o’clock position and then lift off a few seconds later to cover one a full line away at the side of the boat.

This is no good, it’ll get you nowhere, worse with all that casting and retrieving you are ruining the water in front of you!

What you will get is plenty of bow-waving when you retrieve as trout come charging after your fly. Expect loads of swirls as you lift your flies from the water to recast from following trout too. This is all very exciting, but the result is the same, very little in the way of trout in the net!

Don’t panic, here are a few tried and tested ways to catch these super tricky fish, each one is designed to throw the trout off their feeding habits and get them to engage, we are looking to get them, as the yanks say ‘riled’ up! To make them behave in a way that is ‘hard-wired’ into their tiny brains. In the same way, a dog reacts to a ball, you throw, it chases, we can make the trout drop it’s guard, by tapping into it’s hard-wiring!

Total Commotion!

First, we have the out-and-out brutality method, it’s not for the faint-hearted or indeed the over 60’s!

We are looking to initially create an awful lot of water disturbance to get the trout’s attention! To do this effectively, we shall be using Boobies, not your usual affairs either, we’re talking Boobies with BIG eyes, 9mm, ones that push one hell of a lot of water! 

I use two Boobies, 8ft apart, when the line is RIPPED through the water with long pulls, the flies make an awful lot of noise. It’s this commotion that brings the trout in to investigate. You need to fish these BIG flies on a sinking line, one that sinks at 3-inches a second is an ideal choice. It’s only when the flies get pulled under and are fished back that the takes occur. When pulled, a fly that stays on the surface will get lots of followers but no real hook ups, so get that fly under. Ideally, the flies should start to go under after the first three, long pulls. This is enough pulls to bring fish in, then when the flies go under, using the same retrieve, large, fast pulls, you’ll find the line locks up as the trout nails the fly.

When fishing in this manner, I’d suggest a thick tippet, like Vision Prisma Fluorocarbon. The takes are brutal, and the tippet must be up to the job. Similarly, with the rod, I like one with a powerful action. I like the Stillmaniac 10ft 7-wt. I can cast miles, cover more water and pull the hook home at range! 

I always hang my flies well away from the boat when fishing in this manner, so lines with hang markers are a real boon. I stop my manic retrieve as the 10ft marker comes to the tip ring, pause for a second or two, then pull the line and lift the rod tip, blind striking. It’s amazing how often a chasing trout will swim onto your fly and inhale it. You need to strike fast, as they will eject just as quickly. This blind strike counts for many more extra fish throughout the day!

Nymphing But Not As You Know It.

My other go-to is to use the washing line, but a more elaborate version. Rather than fish the two nymphs and Booby, I go with four flies. I like to sandwich two nymphs, Black UV Crunchers, Pearly PTN or my Pinfry, between 2 buoyant flies. The buoyant flies are always FABS, they are not as noisy as Boobies, but they will still draw trout in. The real key reason for using them is so that I can fish with an intermediate or a sink tip line and still get them under the surface, this is crucial!

For this style, a rod with a slightly more forgiving action is required. I like the Stillmaniac 9’9 #6, as the manner in which I’m fishing suits this type of rod. I will also fish with a more delicate tippet, not too thin in diameter but thin enough so that my nymphs don’t look tethered to tow rope.

Cast as far as you can, get the rod under your arm and start a slow roly-poly retrieve. From here, work it a little faster as it gets nearer the boat, the closer the flies come to the boat, the quicker you retrieve. Then, when you have about 20ft of fly line out the tip ring… STOP. The FABS will have brought them in, but they won’t take them very often. Instead, as the trout turns after chasing the top dropper FAB – or indeed swims past – the point FAB, it will see two slowly-descending, perfect-looking nymphs, and it’ll take these without hesitation!

Fishing in this way means you have to keep the rod tip high off the water, as the takes can be brutal, hence the softer rod. You also need ‘soft hands’ as you stop the retrieve to let the flies fall, the line should be held ever so gently, any tension, you may get snapped, so be very mindful of this!

Having targeted Pinfry feeders for years and been out with many exceptional anglers who know their onions, the two methods and flies outlined above take some beating when it comes to ‘fish in the net’, try them and see!

Happy Hunting!

Top Tips

  • Look for boils and bulges at the surface to locate Pinfry feeding trout.
  • Cloud cover will see more fish at the surface.
  • Sun will drive the trout down deeper, they’ll still be there, but they won’t rise.
  • Don’t target the risers, you’ll be casting every second, instead ignore the risers and fish normally in the area of activity.
  • On cloudy days, keep your flies high up in the water. When it’s sunny, drop down a few feet, not too deep though, the fry rarely drop far.

Steve Cullen Fly Fishing

Steve Cullen YouTube Channel

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