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Getting Skunked Fly Fishing – How To Learn From It

Getting Skunked Fly Fishing – How To Learn From It

Getting skunked fly fishing is really disappointing. “Skunked” simply means that you went out and didn’t catch any fish. As frustrating as this can be, there is a lot to be learned from getting skunked on your local river.

When beginners start fly fishing, getting skunked is pretty common. Before you master rigging, fly selection, and presentation – It can be tough to fool a trout. I think that not catching any fish can be very beneficial for newer anglers, though. You can learn about what you did wrong, and think about how you’ll fish better next time.

The fact is, even the best anglers get skunked sometimes. There is nothing wrong with getting skunked. It will certainly make you a better angler in the long run. If we all caught tons of fish every time, we wouldn’t learn much.

Learning What You Did Wrong To Get Skunked

After getting skunked, there are some questions you should ask yourself. These questions can be beneficial, and will certainly help you the next time you go fly fishing.

  • Was I using the right flies in the right sizes?
  • Were my presentations good?
  • Was my tippet too thick?
  • Was I fishing the right water?
  • Was I spooking the fish?
  • Was I covering enough water?

All of these can play a factor in not catching fish. In order to catch trout, we must be in the right place with the right flies. Fishing proper depths with correct patterns is essential to catching fish.

Sure, sometimes we get lucky. However, fly fishing isn’t really about luck. It is about using the right bugs with proper presentations. As fun as fly fishing should be, there is also a lot of technique involved. More time on the water will result in improved technique. It also helps to have a fly fishing mentor that is better at it than you.

How Were Conditions? Bad Conditions Can Mean No Fish!

Conditions can play a big part in deciding whether you catch fish or not. Sometimes, it is just out of our control, and mother nature has a different plan. You shouldn’t always blame yourself, especially if conditions are bad out there.

Muddy Water can really make fishing tough, especially during runoff conditions. In these cases, the fish simply may not see your flies.

Extremely Cold Weather can put the fish down. When water temperatures drop, trout slow down in their feeding habits, and they won’t move very far to eat flies.

Heavily Pressured Rivers can also put the fish down. If there’s tons of anglers on the river, the fish will take notice, and may stop feeding for the time being.

Extremely Hot Weather can definitely harm the trout fishing. When water temperatures get above 65 degrees, trout get stressed and will slow their feeding. Not only are they not eating much, but they also risk dying due to the water temperatures.

Always think about how the conditions were. If any of the above factors were present, you can write the day off because of bad conditions. It’s just part of the game.

Were You Fishing Well?

Bringing your A Game to the river is always a good idea, but some days we’re just not that good at it. Missed hook sets, sloppy drifts, bad mends, etc. These can all make it hard to catch fish. These days can hurt our ego as anglers, but it is best not to think too hard about it. We’re only human, and we can’t fish perfectly every time we go out.

As you improve as an angler, these days are less common – but they can still happen. Sometimes, we just have a tough time trying to catch fish. Don’t get discouraged, and try to fish better next time.


As you can see, getting skunked has its benefits. There is lots to be learned from a day with zero fish. If we can put our egos aside and learn from it, it will certainly make us better anglers in the long run. Even the best fly fishers have tough days.