photograph by Ahmad Terry

photograph by Ahmad Terry


One of my two-year-old’s favorite characters is SUPER GROVER 2.0! We anglers have something in common with loveable Grover: our superpower. Whether on Sesame Street or on the water, our “POWERS OF OBSERVATION” give us an edge. Though we want to use all our senses to pay attention to what’s happening out there, being able to see into the water gives us a huge advantage in the game of fly fishing. There are a few simple things we can do in terms of position (where we are) and person (what we wear) in order to best “unleash our powers of observation!”


One word comes to mind when I think of putting myself into the best position to observe what’s happening under the water’s surface: ELEVATION. Picture the saltwater guides, up high on either elevated poling platforms or casting from a YETI in the bow…they’re trying to get as high as they can in order to improve their angle of vision. It’s no different than looking down into a river from a bridge (by the way, isn’t that fun to do?).

Anyway, when trout fishing, we aren’t going to be casting from bridges any time soon. However, we can employ the principle of elevation in other ways. Try to utilize high banks, boulders, even large (sturdy) mid stream rocks when appropriate to gain more of a bird’s eye perspective. Speaking of birds, be mindful of your movements and shadows when getting up high. Trout are very wary of shadowed-movements across the water (so, watch your rod’s shadow). Approach with care, from downstream when possible. Get up high and scout it out.

Along with maximizing your elevation, consider your position relative to the sun. Most often looking down-sun (sun at your back) is advantageous. If you can safely cross the stream to improve your viewing position (without spooking fish), make the move.


Equipping ourselves to best see into the streams and lakes we fish is really very easy to do. The first, and most obvious, thing is to wear a hat with a good bill. I like a dark bill (particularly on the underside) to minimize glare. My bald head also appreciates the sun protection a hat affords.

The second thing to do is wear a good pair of polarized sunglasses. I personally love Smith’s Chromapop lenses. These incredible lenses are available on a variety of styles.  Yours don’t need to be the most expensive on the shelf, but be sure to find a pair that fits you just right. Poor fit will lead to headaches and unwanted light pollution. On the other hand, a good fit helps to minimize light and glare entering from the tops, bottoms, and sides of your lenses. Stop by your local fly shop and try them on till you find the best ones for you. Bonus: a perfect fit ensures stylish selfies.

The final piece to your sight fishing arsenal is a BUFF. Although several of you may not yet embrace the look of the water ninja, a buff not only protects your skin from harmful high altitude UV rays, it also works to cover up the spaces around your glasses; from the bridge of your nose to behind your ears. The buff trend has reached a tipping point:  You can find a mind boggling array of styles, designs, and manufacturers adding a personal flair to your fishing for only a modest investment.

hat, glasses, buff

Look like this, see more fish!

Hat + Glasses + Buff = your simple sight fishing trifecta.

The fish are there, waiting to be seen. Get out there and “UNLEASH your powers of OBSERVATION!”

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