My friend Kevin Gorman was using mono when he went with me and he was tossing panthers. It was the first time he trout fished.
This winter for me has been really long and frustrating. If I can not fish I think about fishing or research trout fishing. Late December I looked back ten years in my log books. My catch ratio had gone up in the last ten years but my large trout size had plateaued at about twenty inches. There were the occasional "bigs" either I caught or my fishing partners caught. It left me scratching my head.
I went back another twenty years and added up the "bigs" and what they were caught on. The lures were the same. The streams were the same. These log books showed larger trout being caught. I checked the times of the year and nothing seemed to be different. I went all the way back to my largest trout caught ever. I think I found what has caused my catching rate of extra large trout to go down.
This off season I researched different kinds of line and lures. I purchased some stick baits. My two largest ever browns had been caught on stick baits. I had gotten away from stick baits due to the constant drum beat I had heard in the trout world. The "treble hooks" are evil had actually caused me to shy away from stick baits due to the double trebles. I have a stick bait box once again with salmos and rapalas and yo yuris. All were good for bigs 30 years ago.
I had ignored the same drum beat about single hooked spinners. The treble hook on spinners work like a rudder on spinners. The single hooks in my opinion cause the spinners to come in unnatural looking and like dragging a stick in. I also have no time for dressed spinners for brown trout and my log books confirm my lack of success from dressed spinners.
There was another statistic I gleaned from my 39 years of log books. My extra large trout catch ratio went down when I switched to braided line. I first started with fireline about 12 years ago and switched to exclusively power pro 10 years ago. I switched to braided line due to its durability and no stretch. I left mono behind because my favorite lure for trout "panther martins" have sharp edges on the inline holes on the blades. Many times I launched spinners when I cast because a mar in the trilene from the blade flop over. Braided line has no such mar problem.
This winter I asked lots of fishing friends what they use. Many use mono but the majority used braided. I had a conundrum on my hands. Some of my friends use fluorocarbon line and swear by it. They told me to not over spool with it and that you need to straighten your line after a couple uses or there could be troubles. I guess they meant having a friend hang on to your lure and walk out to fifty yards and you reel it back in. I guess you can spool on fluorocarbon line backwards also.
Opener came and I had two different brands of fluorocarbon line on two rigs. I had one sized bigger reels on each so I would not have the over spooling problems and have the line jump the spool and have birds nests. It was 22 degrees when I hit the water. The new line came off the reel a little stiff and my casting distance was a little shorter. I had no luck with the stick bait and ended up depositing it in a tree. I switched to panthers. I had a serious hit the next hole. With braid no set is required because of the zero stretch. An aggressive fight is all that is needed. Had about a 22-23 female on and she spit the hook within 4 seconds. I believe the fluorocarbon stretched and got no penetration and that is why she got off.
I continued to fish and had a good outing. I did blow one fluorocarbon mess once. As I fished I thought about years past and anglers I took with me. This exact stretch I was fishing 2 years prior with my friend Kevin, he caught a really sweet male brown. The hole he had caught the brown was coming at the end of my outing. I was getting excited and I was visualizing 2 years growth on his bronze male he had caught. I got to the hole and nobody was home. I replayed where Kevin had caught the trout in my mind. I had cast right where he was throwing. Kevin was using mono that day. Fluorocarbon line is invisible in the water unlike braided. I had switched to braided 10-12 years earlier. The vehicle was in sight so I hurried up a little.
There was a nice bend not 20 yards upstream from where Kevin had caught his beast. It was actually very close to the car so I didn't give the hole much of a possibility of success. I thought the lazy anglers that bridge fish would have for sure had educated anything big in there. I tossed my panther upstream and at the 90 degree bend drop off my spinner threw on its brakes. I set the hook and some how the back reel option kicked in. The absolute stop of the spinner led me to believe I had snagged a log. That thought disappeared in an instant when the snag went charging upstream. I pinned the reel handle down and got control again and felt violent head shakes and it came unbuttoned.
I hate it when I lose a battle. At 61 years old I learned some things that outing. Big wily brown trout can see braided line. Fluorocarbon line stretches and is hard to maintain. Last night I decided a combination of braided and fluorocarbon was in order. In my steeheading days I used braided power pro with a 16 inch fluorocarbon leader and that could fake out a steelie. All I need now is for Wisconsin's weather to cooperate for more research.
Kevin's bronze beast. Big trout don't get big by being stupid. I think they can see braided line. Don't be afraid to buck the new trends.