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Trout Senses

A great trout fisherman has a good understanding of the senses the fish uses.  Trout have three main senses.  Knowing these senses will put you at an advantage when you’re fishing on your South Carolina property.

Trout have a very powerful sense of smell.  Humans often don’t think of this since they can’t smell underwater.  It is very important not to introduce unusual or foreign smells into a trout stream.  These will warn a trout of anglers.  Foreign smells come from many sources, including fly line cleaners, fly floatants, epoxies, glue, and the angler himself.  For starters, skip the cologne or any strong smelling deodorants, lotions, or aftershave.  Next, you can use fly line cleaners and fly floatants that use masking chemicals to hide the smell.

Trout use their excellent sense of smell, so it is important to keep your materials and gear as scent free as possible.  You can use Scent-Lok gear normally used for hunting.  Give yourself all the advantage you can get when facing a difficult trout stream.

Although trout don’t have great long-range vision, they have excellent close-range vision, allowing them to determine whether or not to eat something.  This is why imitation flies often fail to get the attention of a trout.  Trout see through a “trout’s window” – a cone-shaped view that extends from the eye making it so the deeper the trout is, the more they can see.  Trout only eat food that passes through this cone of vision since they can see it and inspect it.  While they may be aware of other foods in the water around them, they will only consider eating it if it is in their cone of vision.  While fly fishing, it is important to drop the fly upstream from where the rise was.  This way, the fly will float down the river naturally, and not surprise a trout by suddenly appearing in their cone of vision.

Trout can also see color, even subtle changes in color.  Therefore, the same fly in two different colors can produce very different results, depending on if a trout is avoiding certain colors.  They can also see the profile of a fly, so it’s important that your flies float properly.  Sometimes the cheaper flies will appear to look great, but the profile will look wrong to the trout while in the water or float awkwardly.

Trout also have a good sense of hearing.  They have two receptors – one running the length of the fish’s body, picking up frequency vibrations (rocks hitting one another or boat oars) and the other, located in the fish’s ear, detects the movement of insects which the trout eats.  This second receptor allows trout to hear far better than humans.

One important thing to remember is that trout can’t hear human voices outside of the water, so you don’t need to be quiet along the banks.  However, they will hear banging oars on the side of a boat.  The same goes for wading in the water; they will hear you if you splash or move rocks, particularly in slow water.  Fast moving water will drown out the vibrations.

Trout can also hear when something falls in the water, even just a bug.  Because of this, remember to be careful not to splash the fly line in the water or have the fly hit the water at full force.  Let your fly drop into the water as gently as possible.

Keeping these three main trout senses in mind when fly fishing will definitely give you the best chances of catching some great trout on your South Carolina property!