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Old 06-13-2018, 08:24 AM
caddisfly7's Avatar
caddisfly7 caddisfly7 is offline
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Peace Country
Posts: 90
Default Bull Trout Help

Hey AO!

I have been fly fishing for a few years now and have had a great deal of success catching a number of species in both Stillwater and on rivers; however, when I target Bull Trout I tend to have really slow days. Anyone have any advice for catching bull trout on streamers? I usually think weight is my issue (getting the fly to the bottom) so I load up on weight and use a sink tip, no success. Possibly fly size, so I got some bigger streamers (5-8") and that was unsuccessful. I watched a few videos on drifting streamers and tried those techniques as well as trying different retrieval speeds. I have been trying all this for a few years and have caught a few under 20" bulls and a PB of 24", but I see folks consistently catch big bullies so hopefully there is a good tip out there for me!

I do "fish where the fish are", usually fish for cutties, bows, and grayling while walking away from truck/camp, and fish for bullies on the way back. I have watched bull trout chase around hooked fish and then try fishing for said bull trout afterwards with little to no success. I also have had the opportunity to fish (and will continue to fish) some well known bull trout streams (as well as streams not so popular).

Anyways, any advice? Like I said I have tried a few tactics, any to focus on? Get deep fast? Big streamers? Both? I have also heard a little propeller behind the head of the fly works ok?

Thanks AO! I have been trying to beat that PB bully for a couple years with no success, this will be the year I beat it!
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:19 AM
Jayhad Jayhad is offline
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,321

I fish 8"-10" minnow pattern flys tied on a 3/4 oz jig heads they work very well.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:27 AM
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FishingForLife FishingForLife is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Calgary
Posts: 156

You've definitely got the right idea, in my opinion.
I seldom target bulls, unless I'm on the Castle River. But when I do, I use an Indicator and a simple black bugger. What I found that works, is to make the fly look crazy. I'll dead drift it for a few seconds to make sure it gets down., then do a few massive twitches with the tip of the rod, and that's usually enough to get a bull to smash it. The way I look at it is, if you can't entice them into feeding, then simply ticking them off, gives you a good chance of hooking up. Lol

Just remember to practice good C&R etiquette when handling Bull Trout.

Hope that helps!
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day.
Teach him how to fish, he'll sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
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Old 06-13-2018, 10:30 AM
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Calgaryguy1977 Calgaryguy1977 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 921

This is such a subjective topic really. Still water tactics can be different than rivers/streams. Lakes are simple imo, don't even bother with big streamers or even stripping a bunch....I catch most of my by big ones on pine squirrel leeches, under a float, not much bigger than a quarter. But I digress, any type of black leech pattern under a float will work on both cutties and bulls. 1 inch marabou leeches will work fine as well. Don't be scared to use them throughout the season....same as egg patterns(early or late in the season). Bigger isn't always the answer imo.

On streams/rivers I find the sex dungeon and the double bunny flies to work like a charm. My preferred colours are white and black. Personally I only use floating line with a ton of heavy leader/tippet as the pools aren't super deep and I tie the weight about 6 inches underneath and try to strip it off the bottom toward the top. I don't just strip upstream/downstream, I try to pull up on it a lot too which imitates a struggling/dying fish. I've even had them hit on streamers I just sat still on the bottom (using tons of weight). Quite honestly there isn't really one method that works for me every single time. I will say the more p issed off they get the easier it is to get a bite it seems. If there's a few sitting in a pool not budging then try catching a few small cutties first. That commotion will often times stir them up and p iss them off. Once they're on the prowl switch back to the streamer.

Big fish are less likely to chase a small food item in a strong current so keep that in mind, in a lake they're often times cruising so will take anything on just about any method. I find the bigger streamers more productive in rivers but not soo much in lakes.

Just my 2 cents, I hope you find it useful.

Last edited by Calgaryguy1977; 06-13-2018 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:15 PM
robson3954 robson3954 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 534

I'm similar, I've put a lot of effort into becoming consistent at catching them and it's still a tough go most days. I will say if they're on, they're on and will come clear across a pool to grab a streamer and other days it doesn't matter if you hit them in the mouth with one.
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Old 06-15-2018, 01:31 PM
scel scel is online now
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 469

There are still not that many bull trout. Sure, they are no longer super critically endangered, but they still live in a specialized eco-system.

There are a couple of things of bull trout that I have found. I have never caught them in a lake in AB.

First, bull trout are lazy. Like really lazy. They would much rather sit in a calm pool. If they are not actively feeding, you pretty much have to hit them in the nose. Also, I have never been surprised by a bull trout. They almost always live in very predictable areas, which is almost always the bottom of deeper, slow moving water. An actively feeding bull trout will definitely move to get a meal, but your best bet is to get the fly as close as possible to a lazy bully.

I a making a broad generalization, but I find flies are either heavy and sink fast, but have very little action, or are light but have a ton of action. I prefer to go with lighter flies with more action. Even on the little streams in AB, a small sinktip is usually required to fish the deeper pools. I find 7' ideal for most scenarios. You can definitely get away with a weighted fly, and the technique is not much different. I would say I catch 1/3 of my bull trout on a clouser minnow.

Using a streamer, cast upstream. Throw an upstream mend into your line the second the fly hits the water and continue to mend until fly begins to move downstream from your position. Start the swing, but continue to mend, you do not want the fly to pick up speed so you can effectively cover the whole pool. The problem with this technique is that you are not connected directly to your fly, so you also have to watch your line until you are sure you are tight with the fly. Still bull trout are not usually subtle.

I find lighter streamers work best (probably emulating whitefish, grayling, minnows). They do not need to be that big. A 10cm clouser works great, but bigger articulated flies, like sex dungeons, also produce fish. Bull trout are much like pike though---eyes bigger than their stomachs and for some reason, infuriated by red and pink. However, my biggest bullie was with a relatively small black-n-white clouser minnow.

Good luck.
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Old 06-18-2018, 08:19 AM
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caddisfly7 caddisfly7 is offline
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Peace Country
Posts: 90

Hey folks,

I appreciate the tips! I will put them to use on a few rivers this summer for sure. If I am successful in landing a new PB, I will be sure to share it with you guys on this thread!

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