How to beat tail-nipping trout

Sometimes you'll get bites from tail nipping trout which grab the end of your fly but evade the hook. Here's how to catch them.

How to beat tail-nipping trout
© Fly and Lure
How to beat tail-nipping trout
Picture copyright © Fly and Lure
How to beat tail-nipping trout
Fly fishing tips Estimated reading time 3 - 4 minutes

What is tail-nipping?

Tail-nipping is the name given to the phenomenon whereby trout are perceived to be nipping at the tail of the fly, rather than engulfing the whole thing. This is assumed by the tell-tale plucks on the line and an inability to hook the fish. It tends to affect long marabou lures most of all and can be seriously frustrating.

Why do trout tail-nip?

First of all, tail-nipping is really just an assumption. Unless you're fishing crystal clear water and can genuinely see that the trout are only nipping the tail of the fly, something else might actually be happening.

Sometimes trout chase so fast that they're able to swallow and spit out a fly way faster than you're able to feel it, and that subtle sensation is often misjudged as tail-nipping. You see this a lot when fishing crystal clear stillwaters.

However, there are also times when trout are just a bit more cautious and simply nip at the tail, rather than taking the whole fly into their mouth.

Basically, something is either causing the trout to not smash the fly confidently, or it's causing the fish to eat it and then immediately spit it out. You need to make adjustments to figure it out.

Is it a bad sign?

While it's frustrating, I'd much rather experience tail-nipping than get no bites at all. Something about your fly or retrieve is getting the fish to bite. All you need to do is get them to bite with a bit more gusto to give you enough time to hook them.

Adding pauses to your retrieve is a great way to resolve tail-nippers.

What methods can I try to reduce tail-nipping?

Make the tail shorter
This is often one of the first techniques people try. It will either stop the bites coming altogether (often it's the sinuous movements of the trailing marabou which is attracting the fish) or it will increase the solidity of bites and your hook up rate.

Mix up your retrieve
Instead of stripping back your lure with the same kind of retrieve all day, mix things up. Add some pauses, figure of eight for a while, and throw in some long gentle draws. The change of speed is often enough to change the behaviour of the trout enough for it to swallow the fly.

Stop when you get a nip
When you get another nip, stop your retrieve. The fly will drop back down to the lake bed and the fish has got two options - ignore it and swim off, or have an easy lunch. It takes some guts to do this, but it can work better than continuing the retrieve in many cases. They'll often smash it on the drop.

Speed up your retrieve
If the other options don't work, the last resort is to increase your retrieve speed. You might need to swop to an intermediate or slow sinking line to keep your flies at the same depth, but if you strip back much faster, or even use a roly-poly retrieve, the fish will get less thinking time as the fly whizzes past.

About the author

matt

Comments

No comments yet. Go on, be the first to comment...

Fly fishing diary: July 2022 George's team wins silver at the International Youth Fly Fishing Championships on Lough...

Fly fishing diary: June 2022 We fish the mountain lakes of Snowdonia including Llyn Bugeilyn, Llyn Gamallt Fawr, and...

Fly fishing diary: May 2022 We have two cracking days on the boat at Llyn Brenig and Blithfield Reservoir and some...

How to get into youth competition fly fishing Everything you need to know to get started in competitive youth fly fishing so you can...

We're running FREE junior fly fishing coaching courses George and I are running FREE junior fly fishing coaching sessions for members of...

Fly fishing diary: January 2022 We have a few sessions Euro nymphing on the Welsh Dee and George catches a new personal...

Fly fishing diary: December 2021 We fished at Llandegla Fishery and Ellerdine Lakes, where George won the annual Fur and...

Fly fishing diary: November 2021 We fish at Ellerdine Lakes, Llyn Brenig, and Llandegla and enjoy some superb winter...

Fly fishing diary: October 2021 After being struck down with COVID 19, we get back out on the bank and enjoy some...

Get fly fishing updates

You may unsubscribe at any time. Check our privacy policy for details on how we use and protect your data.