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Prospecting for Trout | How To with Tom Rosenbauer

In the name of “Prospecting for Trout | How To with Tom Rosenbauer,” Tom Rosenbauer provides viewers with valuable tips and techniques for locating trout. He emphasizes the importance of doing research beforehand, consulting local fly shops, and using guidebooks and fishing reports for guidance. Tom discusses the different access rights to rivers by state and province and highlights the importance of asking for permission when fishing on private land. He also provides insights into observing the water before fishing, looking for variety in water types and structure, and paying attention to areas with a current speed of one foot per second. Tom recommends exploring rivers and trying various fly patterns, including ten effective trout fly patterns such as the black woolly bugger, parachute Adams, and copper John nymph.

In the video “Prospecting for Trout | How To with Tom Rosenbauer” by Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing, Tom Rosenbauer takes viewers on a journey to learn the art of locating trout. Throughout the video, he shares valuable advice on how to do proper research, approach rivers, choose the right fly patterns, and fish stealthily. Tom discusses the importance of observing the water, giving other anglers space, and looking for water types with variety and a current speed of one foot per second. He also provides insights into the top ten trout fly patterns that are effective anywhere. This video is a comprehensive guide for those looking to enhance their trout fishing skills and catch more fish.

Prospecting for Trout

Introduction to prospecting for trout

Prospecting for trout involves actively searching for trout in various water bodies rather than relying on specific knowledge of their location. This technique allows anglers to explore new rivers, streams, and other fishing spots where fish are not visibly feeding. By employing a combination of research, observation, and experimentation, anglers can increase their chances of finding and catching trout. In this comprehensive article, we will cover the benefits of prospecting for trout, tips from expert angler Tom Rosenbauer, and key strategies for successful prospecting trips.

Benefits of prospecting

Prospecting for trout offers several advantages to anglers. First and foremost, it allows them to explore new waters, uncovering hidden gems and expanding their fishing horizons. This sense of adventure and discovery adds an element of excitement to every fishing trip. Additionally, prospecting enables anglers to develop their skills and knowledge of different water types, structures, and fish behavior. It encourages anglers to think critically, make observations, and adapt their techniques to varying fishing conditions. As a result, prospecting can lead to increased success and a deeper appreciation for the sport of trout fishing.

Tom Rosenbauer’s tips for prospecting

Tom Rosenbauer, an experienced angler and renowned fishing expert, offers valuable tips for successfully prospecting for trout. Rosenbauer emphasizes the importance of research and preparation before embarking on a fishing trip. This includes gathering information on the specific river or stream, such as fishing reports, local fly shops, and guidebooks. By doing thorough research, anglers can gain insights into ideal fishing locations, access rights, and recommended fly patterns for the area.

Rosenbauer also highlights the significance of observing the water before fishing. This involves taking the time to study the river or stream, identify different types of water structures, and gauge the current speed. By making these observations, anglers can determine the most likely spots where trout may be found and adjust their fishing strategies accordingly.

In addition, Rosenbauer recommends exploring rivers regardless of the weather. While certain conditions may seem unfavorable to some anglers, adverse weather can actually create unique opportunities for successful fishing. By trying different fly patterns and techniques in varying weather conditions, anglers can learn more about trout behavior and increase their chances of catching fish.

Research and Preparation

Importance of research before fishing

Before heading out to prospect for trout, thorough research is essential. Anglers can gather valuable information about the target river or stream by conducting online searches and consulting local resources. This research should focus on fishing reports, recent angler experiences, and any specific regulations or access rights that may apply.

By understanding the current fishing conditions, anglers can make informed decisions about their approach, including selecting the right fly patterns and techniques. Research also provides insights into the seasonal changes that may affect trout behavior and feeding patterns, helping anglers plan their trips accordingly.

Visiting local fly shops

Local fly shops are an invaluable resource for anglers, especially those prospecting in new areas. These shops are staffed by knowledgeable professionals who have firsthand experience fishing in the region. They can provide up-to-date information on the best fishing spots, recent hatches, and effective fly patterns.

Visiting a local fly shop allows anglers to tap into the expertise of the staff and gain insider knowledge about the specific river or stream they plan to fish. By building relationships with these experts, anglers can access valuable tips and recommendations that can greatly enhance their fishing experience.

Using guidebooks and fishing reports

Guidebooks and fishing reports are excellent sources of information for anglers. Guidebooks provide comprehensive overviews of fishing locations, including maps, access points, and recommended techniques. They often contain valuable insights into seasonal changes, insect hatches, and effective fly patterns for the area.

Fishing reports, both online and in print, offer real-time updates on river conditions and recent angler experiences. These reports may include information on water temperature, water levels, and fish activity. By staying updated on current fishing reports, anglers can make more informed decisions about when and where to fish.

Prospecting for Trout | How To with Tom Rosenbauer

Understanding Access Rights

Variation of public access to rivers

Public access to rivers and streams can vary significantly depending on the state or province. In some areas, anglers have the right to walk along the river and its banks up to the high water mark, even on private land. However, in other regions, landowners may own the bottom of the river, restricting public access.

It is crucial for anglers to understand the specific access rights of the area they are fishing in. This knowledge helps anglers avoid trespassing on private land and ensures they fish within legal boundaries. Being aware of access rights also promotes respectful behavior towards landowners and minimizes conflicts between anglers and property owners.

Importance of understanding access rights

Understanding access rights is important for both legal and ethical reasons. By adhering to access regulations, anglers can avoid potential fines and legal consequences. Additionally, respecting private land and seeking permission from landowners fosters positive relationships and preserves angler access for future generations.

Anglers should familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations governing river access. Many states and provinces provide resources that outline access rights and identify any restrictions that may apply to specific rivers or streams.

Respecting private land and seeking permission

When fishing on private land, it is crucial to seek permission from the landowner. This demonstrates respect for their property and ensures anglers are acting within legal boundaries. Approaching landowners politely and making a request in person is often the best approach.

Anglers should also take additional steps to show their appreciation, such as closing gates behind them and cleaning up any trash left behind. Tidy and responsible behavior helps create positive relationships between anglers and landowners, increasing the chances of obtaining permission to fish on private land in the future.

Observing the Water

Importance of observing water before fishing

Observing the water before casting a line is a crucial step for successful trout fishing. By taking the time to study the river or stream, anglers can gather valuable information about the underwater environment, fish behavior, and feeding patterns. Observation allows anglers to make informed decisions about where to fish and which techniques to use.

Anglers should develop the habit of observing the water before entering it. This includes looking for signs of fish activity, such as rising trout or feeding disturbances on the surface. By noting these observations, anglers can target the most productive areas and increase their chances of a successful catch.

Giving others space

One important aspect of observing the water is respecting other anglers by giving them space. If another angler is fishing in a specific spot, it is courteous to avoid encroaching on their area. By providing adequate distance, anglers maintain a sense of camaraderie and ensure everyone has a fair chance at fishing.

A good practice is to explore different sections of the river away from other anglers. This not only maximizes the chances of finding unpressured fish but also allows anglers to enjoy a peaceful and uninterrupted fishing experience.

Identifying water types and structures

Observing the water involves identifying different water types and structures. This knowledge helps anglers understand where trout are likely to be found and how they may behave in different conditions. Some examples of water types include riffles, pools, runs, and tailouts.

Riffles are shallow, fast-moving stretches of water with broken surface texture. They are often home to small insects and provide an ideal feeding ground for trout. Pools, on the other hand, are deeper areas with slow-moving water. They provide refuge and cover for trout and are excellent spots for prospecting.

Runs are transitional areas between riffles and pools, characterized by moderate current speeds. These areas offer a combination of feeding opportunities and shelter for trout. Lastly, tailouts are the areas where a pool transitions back into faster-moving water. They often hold trout as they move between different sections of the river.

By identifying these water types and structures, anglers can target specific areas based on their fishing goals and the behavior of trout.

Current speed as a factor

Understanding the speed of the current is another important consideration when observing the water. Trout prefer areas with a current speed of approximately one foot per second. This kind of water provides a comfortable balance for trout to hold and feed without expending excessive energy.

Anglers can estimate the current speed by observing surface currents, observing how objects move in the water, or even throwing in a small marker and assessing its speed of drift. By finding areas with the ideal current speed, anglers increase their chances of encountering active and feeding trout.

Prospecting for Trout | How To with Tom Rosenbauer

Exploring Rivers in Any Weather

Recommendation to explore rivers regardless of weather

Regardless of the weather conditions, anglers are encouraged to explore rivers when prospecting for trout. While some anglers may be deterred by unfavorable weather, such as rain or wind, these conditions can actually present unique opportunities for successful fishing.

Adverse weather often causes changes in feeding behavior, insect activity, and fish movement. By adapting their fly patterns and techniques to suit these conditions, anglers can unlock the potential for excellent fishing. Exploring rivers in any weather encourages anglers to be adaptable, creative, and open-minded, resulting in a more rewarding fishing experience.

Benefits of trying various fly patterns

When exploring rivers, anglers should also experiment with different fly patterns. Trout can exhibit varied preferences depending on the time of day, water conditions, and insect activity. By trying a variety of fly patterns, anglers increase their chances of discovering which one is most effective for enticing trout to strike.

Different fly patterns mimic different insect species, such as mayflies, caddisflies, or terrestrials. By observing the water, studying insect populations, and making educated guesses about trout feeding behavior, anglers can narrow down the fly patterns that are likely to attract bites.

Exploring rivers in any weather and experimenting with fly patterns allows anglers to fine-tune their skills, expand their knowledge, and ultimately increase their success rate when prospecting for trout.

10 Effective Trout Fly Patterns

Introduction to ten effective fly patterns

When prospecting for trout, using the right fly patterns can significantly increase the chances of catching fish. While there is a wide variety of fly patterns available, certain patterns tend to be effective almost anywhere in the world. Here, we introduce ten such patterns that have proven to be reliable and successful for trout fishing.

  1. Black Woolly Bugger

The black woolly bugger is a versatile fly pattern that imitates various food sources for trout, including leeches, sculpins, and baitfish. Available in bead head or tungsten conehead versions, the black woolly bugger is effective in sizes 6 through 10.

  1. Parachute Adams

The parachute Adams is a classic dry fly pattern that imitates mayflies. Its design makes it highly visible on the water, and it can be fished both as a searching pattern and to match the hatch. Available in various sizes, ranging from 12 to 20, the parachute Adams is a must-have in every trout angler’s fly box.

  1. Copper John nymph

The copper John nymph is a popular and effective fly pattern that imitates various aquatic insects, including mayfly nymphs and stonefly nymphs. Its copper body and fluorescent accents make it highly visible in the water, even in low light conditions. Available in sizes 12 to 18, the copper John nymph is a reliable choice for prospecting trout.

  1. Orange or tan stimulator

The orange or tan stimulator is a versatile pattern that imitates a variety of insects, including stoneflies, caddisflies, and grasshoppers. Its buoyant nature and bright color make it easy to track on the water, making it an excellent searching pattern. Available in sizes 10 to 16, the orange or tan stimulator is a go-to fly for prospecting in different water conditions.

  1. Pheasant tail nymph

The pheasant tail nymph is a classic and effective pattern for imitating mayfly nymphs. Its slim profile and natural coloration make it an irresistible choice for trout. Available in sizes 12 to 18, the pheasant tail nymph is a staple in every trout angler’s fly box.

  1. Zebra midge

The zebra midge is a simple yet highly effective pattern for imitating midge larvae. This fly features a slim body and a bead head, making it an excellent choice for prospecting in slow-moving water or during midge hatches. Available in sizes 16 to 22, the zebra midge is a must-have for trout anglers.

  1. Sparkle dun

The sparkle dun is a versatile dry fly pattern that imitates various mayfly species. Its sparse, upright wings and subdued coloration make it an effective pattern when trout are feeding selectively on emerging mayflies. Available in sizes 14 to 18, the sparkle dun is an essential fly for prospecting in calm water and during mayfly hatches.

Importance of using specific fly patterns

Using specific fly patterns for trout fishing is crucial for enticing strikes and increasing success rates. Trout are selective feeders and often have specific preferences when it comes to insect species, size, and color. By matching the hatch and presenting a fly that closely resembles the natural food source, anglers can increase their chances of fooling trout into biting.

Anglers should pay close attention to insect activity and water conditions to determine the most appropriate fly patterns to use. By understanding the local insect population and imitating their behavior, anglers can effectively target trout and trigger their feeding response.

Bluing olive dry fly for smooth water and fussy trout

The bluing olive dry fly is a highly effective pattern for smooth water and challenging trout. This fly imitates olive mayflies, which hatch frequently on trout streams. The bluing olive dry fly is typically tied in sizes 14 through 22 to match the size of the natural insect. Its realistic appearance and buoyant design make it enticing to picky trout in calm water.

Elkecatis for imitating caddisflies

Caddisflies are a significant food source for trout in many rivers and streams. The elkecatis fly pattern is specifically designed to imitate caddisflies and their behavior on the water. Tied in tan and available in sizes 14 to 18, the elkecatis is an effective choice for prospecting during caddisfly hatches.

Caddisflies floating on the surface often attract trout, making the elkecatis an excellent searching pattern. Its buoyant materials and realistic silhouette make it an irresistible target for feeding fish.

Grasshopper imitations and black foam beetle for terrestrial insects

Terrestrial insects, such as grasshoppers and beetles, can become abundant during the summer months and provide excellent opportunities for trout fishing. Grasshopper imitations, including hopper patterns, are loved by many anglers and can be incredibly effective later in the season.

For a versatile and reliable terrestrial pattern, a black foam beetle in sizes 14 and 18 is recommended. This fly imitates a variety of terrestrial insects and is particularly effective when trout are targeting insects that have fallen into the water.

Tips for choosing the right fly

When choosing a fly for trout fishing, anglers should consider several factors, including the current hatch, water conditions, and fish behavior. By understanding the specific needs of trout and their feeding patterns, anglers can make educated decisions about which fly to use.

It is important to match the size, shape, and color of the natural insects in the area. Anglers should also consider the depth at which trout are feeding and adjust their fly accordingly. By choosing the right fly, anglers increase their chances of enticing strikes and catching trout.

Picking the Right Fly

Clues to pick the right fly

Picking the right fly for trout fishing can be challenging, especially when there is no obvious hatch or visible fish feeding activity. However, there are several clues anglers can look for to increase their chances of selecting a fly that trout will respond to.

One clue is to check for hatched flies in the air. Insects flying above the water indicate that the trout may be feeding on adult insects. Anglers should observe the size, shape, and color of these flying insects to imitate them with their fly selection.

Another clue is to look for spider webs along the riverbank. This indicates the presence of flying insects and can be a good indicator of what trout are feeding on. Additionally, anglers can look for lighted doors or windows near the river, as insects may be attracted to these light sources.

Shaking streamside bushes

Shaking streamside bushes is a technique that allows anglers to dislodge insects onto the water. This action imitates the natural behavior of insects falling into the water and can attract trout. By carefully shaking bushes and observing any insects that fall into the water, anglers can select a fly that closely resembles the fallen insects.

Turning over rocks

Turning over rocks along the riverbank provides insight into the underwater environment and can help anglers determine which aquatic larvae or nymphs are present. By observing these insects and matching them with the appropriate fly pattern, anglers can effectively imitate the natural food sources and increase their chances of catching trout.

Considering bait fish and crayfish in the shallows

In certain water bodies, trout feed on baitfish and crayfish in the shallows. By observing the water and looking for signs of baitfish or crayfish activity, anglers can choose a fly pattern that imitates these food sources. Patterns such as streamers or nymphs can be effective in enticing predatory trout to strike.

Choosing the Right Leader and Tippet

Importance of selecting the right leader and tippet size

Selecting the right leader and tippet size is crucial for successful trout fishing. The leader and tippet connect the fly to the main fishing line and play a significant role in presenting the fly naturally to the fish.

The leader transfers energy from the line to the fly, allowing for accurate and delicate presentations. It also conceals the fishing line from the trout, increasing the chances of fooling them into biting. The tippet, on the other hand, is the final section of the leader that connects to the fly. It provides invisibility and strength, ensuring a secure connection between the fly and the line.

The leader and tippet size should be selected based on the specific fly size, fishing conditions, and the target species. Thin and long leaders are usually recommended for smaller and more delicate presentations, while thicker and shorter leaders are suitable for larger flies and rougher water conditions.

Factors to consider: fly size and water conditions

When choosing the right leader and tippet size, anglers should consider the size of the fly being used and the water conditions. Larger flies require heavier leaders to maintain stability and accuracy during casting. They also require stronger tippets to withstand the force of larger fish.

In contrast, smaller flies require thinner leaders and tippets to ensure a natural presentation and prevent trout from detecting the fishing line. For delicate presentations or when targeting selective trout, finesse and subtlety are key, and a lighter leader and tippet may be necessary.

Water conditions also play a role in selecting the appropriate leader and tippet size. In rougher water with fast currents, a heavier leader and tippet may be necessary to maintain control and prevent the fly from being swept away. In calm or slow-moving water, a lighter leader and tippet can be used to achieve a more delicate presentation.

By considering both the fly size and the water conditions, anglers can choose the right leader and tippet size for optimal fishing success.

Approaching Trout Stealthily

Stealthy approach in both wading and casting

A stealthy approach is crucial when approaching trout, both in wading and casting. Trout are highly sensitive to vibrations, noise, and sudden movements, and a clumsy or disruptive approach can quickly scare them away.

In wading, anglers should move slowly and carefully, avoiding quick movements and stomping that can alert trout to their presence. By staying low and distributing weight evenly, anglers can reduce the disturbance caused by their movements and increase their chances of getting close to trout without spooking them.

When casting, anglers should focus on making accurate and gentle presentations. A loud or forceful casting motion can send shockwaves through the water, alerting nearby trout to the presence of a potential threat. By casting softly and minimizing line disturbance, anglers can present the fly in a natural and convincing manner.

Benefits of approaching trout stealthily

Approaching trout stealthily offers several benefits to anglers. First and foremost, it increases the chances of getting close to trout without alarming them. This allows for more accurate and effective presentations, giving the fly a better chance of being accepted by the fish.

A stealthy approach also allows anglers to observe trout behavior more closely. By remaining undetected, anglers can study the fish’s feeding patterns, responses to different presentations, and overall behavior. This information can then be used to refine techniques and increase fishing success.

Overall, a stealthy approach is critical for successful trout fishing. It demonstrates respect for the fish, the environment, and fellow anglers, allowing for a more rewarding and harmonious fishing experience.


Prospecting for trout through dedicated research, observation, and experimentation can greatly enhance an angler’s fishing experience. By actively exploring new rivers, understanding access rights, observing the water, and choosing the right fly patterns, leaders, and tippets, anglers can increase their chances of finding and catching trout.

Tom Rosenbauer’s tips for prospecting offer valuable insights into preparation and planning, while the ten effective trout fly patterns provide a starting point for successful fly selection. By approaching trout stealthily, anglers further improve their chances of fooling these elusive fish and achieving a rewarding fishing experience.

Encouragement is given to anglers to continue exploring and experimenting, keeping in mind that each fishing trip is an opportunity to learn more about trout behaviors, environmental factors, and individual angling skills. With dedication, curiosity, and a passion for the sport, anglers can become proficient prospectors, consistently finding and catching trout in various fishing spots.

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