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ORVIS – How to save the day on a trout river

In the video “ORVIS – How to save the day on a trout river” produced by The Orvis Company, the importance of being adaptable and making on-the-fly adjustments while fishing is highlighted. As anglers, we often have a preconceived idea of how our day on the water will go, but it is crucial to have a backup plan or alternative approach in case things don’t go as expected. The video shares a personal anecdote of streamer fishing for brown trout and unexpectedly encountering pike instead. In this situation, the angler had to think creatively to modify their gear and create a makeshift articulated streamer to successfully catch the pike. The video underscores the need for flexibility and resourcefulness when faced with unforeseen challenges while fishing.

Gear and Expectations

Preparing for a day on the trout river

When preparing for a day on the trout river, it’s essential to have the right gear and set your expectations accordingly. Start by checking your rod and reel to ensure they are in good working condition. Clean and lubricate the reel if needed, and inspect the rod for any signs of damage or wear. Make sure you have the appropriate line weight and leader material for the type of fishing you plan to do.

Choosing the fishing style

Trout rivers offer a variety of fishing styles, ranging from dry fly fishing to nymphing and streamer fishing. Consider the conditions and the behavior of the fish when deciding on your fishing style for the day. If you notice trout actively feeding on the surface, dry fly fishing might be the best approach. On the other hand, if the fish seem to be sluggish, nymphing or streamer fishing could yield better results.

Having backup options

No matter how well you prepare and plan, sometimes situations on the river can change unexpectedly. Having backup options can save the day when your initial plans don’t go as expected. This could include carrying a different selection of flies, extra leader material, or even having a backup rod and reel in case of any unforeseen issues. Being prepared for different scenarios will allow you to adapt and continue fishing even if your first approach doesn’t work out.

On-stream Adjustments

Assessing the situation

Once you’re on the trout river, it’s crucial to assess the situation and gauge the current fishing conditions. observe the water flow, temperature, and clarity, as well as any signs of fish activity. Look for rising fish, bugs on the water surface, or any other indicators that can help you make informed decisions about your fishing tactics.

Making necessary modifications

Based on your assessment of the situation, you may need to make some modifications to your initial plan. For example, if you planned to fish with dry flies but notice that the fish are not rising, you might need to switch to nymphs or streamers. Similarly, if the water is particularly clear, using a lighter tippet or downsizing your flies can increase your chances of success.

Thinking outside the box

Sometimes, even with the best assessment and modifications, the fish may still not respond as expected. In these cases, it’s crucial to think outside the box and try unconventional approaches. Experiment with different retrieves, presentation angles, or even changing the color or size of your flies. Trout can be selective, and being willing to try something different might be the key to unlocking their appetite.

ORVIS - How to save the day on a trout river

Unexpected Encounter with Pike

Spotting the pike

While fishing for trout, you may occasionally encounter unexpected species, such as pike. These aggressive predator fish can be both exciting and challenging to target. If you spot a pike in the water, take a moment to observe its behavior and determine if it’s actively feeding or simply resting. This information will help you strategize your next move.

Lack of streamer boxes

When encountering a pike unexpectedly, a common challenge is the lack of suitable streamer patterns in your fly box. Most trout anglers tend to focus on imitating smaller baitfish or insects, rather than the larger patterns needed for pike. This can limit your options and require some improvisation to make the best of the situation.

Limited options

Without the appropriate streamer patterns, targeting pike can be tricky. These fish typically go after larger prey, so using a small trout streamer might not be effective. However, having limited options doesn’t mean you have to give up on landing the pike. It just requires a bit of creativity and resourcefulness to find a solution.

Finding a Solution

Searching through fly boxes

When faced with limited options for targeting pike, the first step is to thoroughly search through your fly boxes. Although you may not have specific pike streamers, you might find larger trout or bass streamers that could be modified or used as a substitute. Look for patterns with flashy materials, a good amount of movement, and a size that could catch the attention of a hungry pike.

Discovering small streamers

During your search, you may come across smaller streamer patterns that, while not ideal for pike, could still entice these fish to strike. Though pike prefer larger prey, they will occasionally go after smaller offerings if they’re presented well. Experiment with different retrieve speeds and erratic movements to mimic the behavior of injured baitfish, increasing your chances of enticing a strike.

Creating a makeshift articulated streamer

In the absence of suitable pike streamers, you can create a makeshift articulated streamer using the materials available to you. Combine two smaller streamer patterns of contrasting colors by tying the second one directly to the hook bend of the first using a loop knot. This will give your fly increased movement and the illusion of a larger baitfish, potentially triggering a pike’s predatory instincts.

Changing Tactics

Replacing the leader material

Pike have sharp teeth and can easily bite through standard trout leaders. To prevent losing your flies and potentially damaging the fish’s mouth, it’s essential to replace your leader material with something more substantial. Consider using wire leaders designed for targeting toothy fish like pike. These leaders are durable and can withstand the pike’s sharp teeth, increasing your chances of successfully landing one.

Using a 12-foot sectional

As pike are ambush predators that often hide in weedy or structure-rich areas, fishing with a longer rod can be advantageous. A 12-foot sectional rod can provide better leverage and control when casting and fighting these large fish. The extra length allows for precise presentations and increased maneuverability, essential when casting around obstacles or into tight cover.

Tying on the articulated streamer

With the appropriate gear and modifications made, it’s time to tie on your makeshift articulated streamer and target the pike. Cast your fly in areas where pike are likely to be hiding, such as weed beds, fallen trees, or rocky structures. Use a variety of retrieves to imitate the movements of wounded baitfish, alternating between slow and fast retrieves, pauses, and erratic jerks to entice the predator to strike.


Successfully targeting predator fish like pike while trout fishing requires adaptability and resourcefulness. Being prepared with backup options, modifying your tactics on the stream, and thinking outside the box can greatly enhance your fishing experience and increase your chances of success. Remember to assess the fishing conditions, make necessary adjustments, and be open to trying new approaches. Enjoy these unexpected fishing adventures as they provide opportunities to challenge yourself and expand your angling skills.

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