I recently saw a post on a fly fishing discussion board from a fellow who has been fishing fairly regularly for the past 30 years, but still rarely catches a fish. He was wondering if he should just give up.
I fish pretty popular waters, I get to see alot of people fish, some catch fish, many don't. Generally here is what I often see -
1) Learn to fish a couple of waters by spending most or all your time on your chosen water. It's often tougher to catch fish when fishing new waters. Some people I know never fish the same water twice. To each his/her own, but it doesn't help if catching fish on a regular basis is a top priority.
2)When are you fishing? I usually fish the first couple of hours of daylight, and the last couple of hours before dark. Most people I see are just starting when I'm finishing, or visa versa. Catching fish mid day is tough. On my home waters, I probably average 4 fish an hour during prime times, maybe a fish every other hour during non-prime times. The same can be said for the seasons, catching fish during mid summer is tough, at least in Michigan.
3)The most common problem I see with folks who don't catch fish, they are casting, not fishing. My wife is a fair caster at best, she out fishes most other people on our river. She fishes close, controlled casts. Many people I see try to cast as far as they can, they have no control of what goes on once the fly hits the water. For the past 20 or so years, when I find myself not catching fish, I shorten my cast. For the past 2 years, I have been fishing with a fixed length line (i.e. Tenkara) I only have about 20' of string (total line, leader, tippet) available. Since fishing with a fixed length line, my catch rate has actually gone up. Please remember my short line advice is primarily directed towards fishing moving water, it may or may not apply to still water situations. About 95% of my fishing time is spent fishing for trout in moving waters located in Michigan's lower peninsula.