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Fly Fishing in Europe - The Pursuit of Big Trophy Brown Trout

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A 10lb trophy brown trout that fell to a light nymph for the author A 10lb trophy brown trout that fell to a light nymph for the author

"All the fly anglers I meet along the rivers want to become an accomplished trophy trout angler but a few things are essential to being successful. You should be prepared for short nights and long days to spend a large part of your free time to catch fish of these sizes." Laurent Guillermin talks about big brown trout this month.

You must be determined, committed, and have a willingness to learn. Many trophy brown trout anglers spend months and sometimes years between big fish. This pursuit is rarely vain. Strolling along the banks of the large rivers in Europe and France is entering the magic world of outstandingly clear waters. As a kingdom of the local wild “zebra” trout, several valleys will enchant expert fishers who want the biggest ones!

Watch then fish!

One of the most important skills you can learn to catch big trout is first spotting them. Once you can see where a big fish is holding, (it takes time for some anglers), you can move to achieve the best presentation. Remember these fish are spooky so take your time!

8 lb brown troutThe big difference that separates successful fly fishers from the others is always patience. They look a lot before they fish. My advice: walk a high bank staying well back from the edge and examine the water carefully. Then plan your approach and presentation in your head to avoid spooking the fish when you cast. As you will see the fish take your fly, this enables you to set the hook properly. There is a very special visual thrill in the method that does not exist in blind fishing.

There are plenty of visual anglers in France and Europe. By selectively spotting their prey and ignoring all others, they catch big specimens with good regularity. Catching any species with consistency means that the angler is certainly doing something well. The chief reason for their success is speed and accuracy of presentation. These kind of anglers began fly-fishing on large wild rivers where you must cast accurately and observe the trout’s reactions to the passing of the fly. By using small dries and nymphs from March to September, they learn a lot about delicate presentations.

The first thing you notice when you scan the best waters is the number of rises. Sometimes trout appear to be everywhere. The lightning takes you experience are a great cure for slow reflexes. Rain or shine, winter or summer, the specialists always fish dry flies and nymphs, usually in small sizes. The home-tied patterns are simple designs using a twist of natural dubbing and a feather of CDC. “Cul de canard” flies were created in France and Switzerland for standard trout. It is now a worldwide known pattern.

In early spring, trophy trout will be looking for aquatic insects for food. Most of the time, caddis and nymphs are the main food on offer in rivers. They are often in dark colour like brown, or olive. During summer, the biggest browns are sometimes attracted to insects that are blown to the water and drown. It is in this regard that it is best to use fly patterns such as grasshoppers, ants or beetles.

Trophy Test brown troutSome big brown trout addicts will seek their prey in summer, in the late hot afternoon, along the river's edge. Sometimes fish can be spotted and fished to as they cruise along the weed beds near shore, feasting on shrimps or minnows for example. Trophy brown trout eat all varieties of food that their habitat can provide. They eat almost everything from insects like ants, beetles and gnats, to other invertebrates. In this sense, it is hard to predict which fly that appears like these foods will definitely work. Just remember that the browns are very fussy. Try to tailor your fly box with varieties of fly that will work in different water situations as well as the time of the year. Keep the variety big enough to cater to the different condition that you might face later on.

Your ability to adapt to the requirements of the trophy brown trout is already a step in understanding them and later on knowing the right trick for the right catch. We all know the expression “match the hatch". It is probably the best approach to big brownie fishing in Europe. Take a careful look at what stage of insect life the fish are moving to. Brown trout can be very selective to the point that they will sometimes only take imitations that look like a nymph-breaking surface, while at other times they will only take the adults as they return to lay their eggs in the surface film. Remember that big trout are like chameleons, they can take on the colour of the surroundings. Sometimes I look for the shadows created by trout holding deep in clear water. First look to the fish and then for details that betray their presence. It is in fact the best method! The thrill of landing a massive trophy brown is an incredible experience!

Laurent Guillermin

Laurent Guillermin is a French reporter and photographer. Laurent’s images and articles have appeared in a great number of fishing magazines in France and Europe. He’s also well-known in the small fly tying “world” and has commercial patterns tied by Easy Fly. He has traveled all over the world as a reporter and is considered as an expert fly fisher for trout, grayling, pike, carp, sea bass, bonefish and permit. “Every time you go out fishing you can have a different experience. That’s what it’s all about!”

You can contact him on lgfishing@orange.fr

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