Matching the hatch is a term derived from the fact that many trout will feed strongly, when nymphs move from the bottom of the river to the surface to hatch into an insect. Trout sometimes feed exclusively on the nymph or winged insect that is currently hatching.
During hatches trout often feed voraciously. Sometimes, and infuriatingly, when trout are feeding on a certain type of prey, they appear to spurn all others. The matching the hatch principle can be applied to prey other than nymphs and insects. Trout may appear to feed on only one kind of prey in other forms, such as snails, baitfish, etc.
As a general rule the principle of matching the hatch is a very important part of inducing a trout to bite your offering.
Regularly, unless the fly or lure being used matches, or is a good approximation of what trout are feeding on at that time, the angler is less likely to catch fish, but this is not universally true.
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An illustration of the importance of matching the hatch occurred one December while I was sight fishing for trout feeding on smelt in the shallows of Lake Taupo. At least that was what I thought I was doing.
I came upon a small area of intense activity – trout were boiling on the surface over an area about the size of half a football field. Typical trout behaviour when they come upon shoals of smelt.
Moving into position I began to cast my favourite smelt imitation. Cast after cast without a touch and still the trout fed. New flies despatched into the feeding area produced nothing. I could not understand it.
Thoroughly stumped, I sat down to rest my tired arm. Something was wrong here, I thought. Then I noticed the boils the fish made in the water were not the slashing-thrash that trout usually made when attacking a shoal of smelt.
It was about then that I noticed the air was full of bugs well above my head. There was a near gale blowing from behind me through a copse of willows on the high bank above me. Bingo!
I tied on a bug, flung it out, let it lie, gave it a small twitch or two, and the fly disappeared. I managed to catch three lovely fish over the next hour, until the wind died - then the trout went back to chasing smelt.
There was a lesson in this.
What we see is often not all there is to be seen (in life as well as fishing).
The obvious may be anything but. Before I tied on the smelt fly and ripped into casting, a couple of minutes of closer observation would have saved me some frustration.
ASSUME – Makes an ASS out of U and ME
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