On the Other Hand - A new way to look at feeding behavior

There is no question that a number of factors weigh on a fish’s decision to feed. And the demands of his environment—spring creek vs. freestone river—probably override many other variables; however, understanding that (at least) some fish have a preference to feed from one side or the other gives the angler one more insight that helps fill in the pieces of the puzzle that make up a successful presentation.
Can understanding left / right preference feeding behaviour in trout help fly anglers catch more fish?

Can understanding left / right preference feeding behaviour in trout help fly anglers catch more fish?

~ Author, Dirk Fischbach

The big brown trout was idly finning in the slack water of an inside seam at a wide bend in the creek. His deep sanctuary providing protection from aerial predators while providing him a front-row view to the food gliding past on the endless gravy train of current.

I approached from below in a crouched stance to avoid throwing so much as a shadow across the gin-clear water. Assuming that the fish was feeding on bugs caught in the faster flow of current, I dropped a Letort-style hopper to his right. The drift was very good and I expected to see him break from his lair and take it.

No dice.

I laid my next cast a little farther up the bubble line and watched it slide down past him.

Again, nothing.

A third drift slightly closer to him was summarily ignored. Giving into the seemingly contradictory reality of the situation, I cast to his left, dropping the hopper with a slight “plop” onto a much slower, almost still, “seam.” The fish immediately bolted to the fly and the game was on.

Can understanding left right preference feeding behaviour in trout help fly anglers catch more fish?

The experience caused me to reflect on other feeding anomalies I had witnessed and piqued my interest into paying attention to whether or not trout—and indeed many (if not all) species of fish—exhibit right- vs. left-handedness, as people and other primates do.

My observations since that encounter with the finicky brown have convinced me that fish often do show both a feeding and a flight preference to one side or the other. The implications for fly presentation are clear.

Part of the importance this phenomena plays is already “built in” by a fish’s choice of lies in a stream. Fish that crowd one bank or the other are almost certain to feed to the open side. Although it is important for the angler to realize that in situations such as a terrestrial feed, a fish two feet off the left bank (looking upstream) might be a left-hand feeder eating falling bugs that are dropping off grass or limbs immediately overhanging the stream. Observation is critical. In all situations, the angler must either determine through direct observation or infer through deduction the fish’s preferred path to food. And, as my big brown taught me, it is not always the obvious or intuitive choice.

In fast water, a fish’s orientation to the current and objects like logs, rocks, and ridges will give important clues.

A fish whose lie is on the left-hand side of a rock or log is likely to have a preference to feed to his left. Similarly, a fish’s choice of an inside or outside bend can be a good predictor as to which direction he prefers to move to feed (by his relationship to the dominant current seam). However, as was the case with the trout that started my research into this topic, the main seam is not always the preferred feeding spot. In food-rich environments, such as the spring creek I was fishing that day, the fish have multiple target areas, and wind direction, sun, bankside vegetation, and other variables may have a greater impact on the availability of food and ease of feeding than the current itself.

But while a fish’s location in the stream may give clues as to the feeding preference, the implications of “handedness” have a more important tactical implication.

Think of the times you have approached a seen trout, inching the fly ever closer on a series of casts. Usually this is done because the physics of the flow would suggest his feeding be to the side nearest the bubble line or main flow.

Since each successive cast gives another chance to spook our quarry, the concept of “handedness” presents a safer path forward. Instead of casting ever closer to one side of the fish (or endlessly changing flies), we can make a more conservative presentation to the opposite side—giving the fish a chance to break on the fly without the risk of lining him with a close cast.

There is no question that a number of factors weigh on a fish’s decision to feed. And the demands of his environment—spring creek vs. freestone river—probably override many other variables; however, understanding that (at least) some fish have a preference to feed from one side or the other gives the angler one more insight that helps fill in the pieces of the puzzle that make up a successful presentation.

~ Author, Dirk Fischbach



Epic Gift Card - Gifts For Fly Anglers
Epic Gift Card - Gifts For Fly Anglers from $50.00
Give the Gift of Choice No Delays, No Shipping. The Perfect Fly Fishing Gift On Time Every Time - Instant Delivery! Looking for the perfect gift for the Fly Angler in your life? Give them the gift of choice with a gift card. Gift cards are delivered by email from you directly from our website and contain instructions to redeem them at checkout. Gift cards are charged and redeemed on our stores base currency - $US For customers outside of the USA you can still shop and check-out in your native currency, our store does the conversion for you. Shopping for someone else (or yourself) but not sure exactly what to choose?Not sure what to get? Length, color or size?  It's very easy with an Epic Gift Card. You give - they choose! Schedule a Time to Send!You can even prescheduled  time / day / date that you would like your Gift Card delivered What is this?Gift Cards are delivered to you the purchaser by email and contain simple instructions to redeem them at checkout for products in our store. Each gift card features a unique code. Your gift card can also be printed out and gifted to the recipient, or it can be emailed to them immediately. Need Help? - drop us a line and we'll help you or your gift card recipient choose. How does it Work? Simple, you purchase the gift card you would like to give and check out just like you would for any online purchase. Our system will send you an email the recipient your gift card with your custom message. (That gift card has a unique voucher code on it) The recipient uses the voucher code to redeem against the purchase of their choice. Questions: Gift Cards work just like cash Any unspent balance can be used later Purchases can be topped up with cash, credit card or Paypal for larger purchases Customers can check their balance by visiting the unique gift card link sent via email Gift Cards have no additional processing fees. Purchase in your native currency to be redeemed at any time.Any questions or problems, just email us
Double Fly Rod & Reel Vault Bag Epic Backcountry Double Fly Rod & Reel Vault Bag
Backcountry Double Fly Rod & Reel Vault $83.99 $119.95
Backcountry Double Fly Rod & Reel Vault Fish faster and smarter with the Backcountry Double Fly Rod Vault! This powerhouse of a storage solution is designed to carry two 9ft fly rods and reels, rigged up and ready to roll. Durably crafted from tough, water-resistant 600D Cordura material and reinforced by 210D Ripstop Polyester inner, you can rest assured your valuable fly rods and reels will be safe in all conditions. Waterproof YKK zippers keep moisture and dust out while the thickly padded interior protects your precious fly reels from being scratched. A hardshell outer helps look after your fly rods no matter what terrain awaits you. This is an unbeatable way to transport two complete setups. Save time and be ready to fish at a moment's notice!
Best fly reel for fly fishing as voted by field and stream best of the best Best fly reel waterproof fly reel
Backcountry Fly Reel $295.99 $399.95
Large Arbor Backcountry Fly Reel II The best looking fly reel on the river. Our Backcountry fly reel features a smooth, sealed ceramic drag mechanism that boasts 3kg of drag and is easily swapped from left to right-hand wind. Super smooth sealed drag, lightweight large arbor, stealthy satin finish. Suitable for both fresh and saltwater use. CNC machined from cold-forged tempered 6061-T6 aluminum, High capacity large arbor spool Waterproof sealed stacked ceramic drag Type III military spec hard anodised finish Suitable for both fresh & saltwater use Large Arbor Spool The large arbor spool features a curved U shaped design that adds strength and assists in line levelling upon retrieval. The exposed reel edge makes for easy palming. A no-nonsense, tough, waterproof and lightweight fly reel. Epic in every way. Finished in a stealthy low sheen type III hard anodised satin finish available in any color as long as it's black.  Backcountry 3/4 Backcountry 5/6 Backcountry 7/8 Weight: 115g (4oz) Weight: 131g (4.6oz) Weight: 139g (4.9oz) Capacity: line + 50m  Capacity: line + 100m  Capacity: line + 150m  Dia:  84mm Dia: 94mm Dia: 104mm Got questions? - Drop us a line, we'd love to hear from you.
Fly Tying Tool Kit by Epic Fly Tying Tool Kit by Epic
Backcountry Fly Tying Kit $138.99 $199.00
Backcountry Fly Tying Kit Equally at home on a trip or on your fly tying bench, our Backcountry Fly Tying kit features the very best Italian made tools by Stonfo and a pair of remarkable hand crafted fly tying scissors by Renomed of Poland. There are no finer fly tying tools made. We've taken the best of the best and presented them in a thoughtful waxed cotton canvas tool roll featuring genuine leather trim and straps fastened with classic brass catches. The hand stitched waterproof tool roll houses & protects these high quality tools and features two additional pouches to tuck away fly tying materials and hooks. The Renomed "Fly Tier" scissors feature a 'super cut' finely serrated blade that makes cutting deer hair and fur a breeze, and the larger scissor handles afford comfort and extraordinary durability and functionality. Tool Collection  Renomed Fly Tier Super Cut scissors (retail US$45) Stonfo Dubbing Twister Stonfo Hackle pliers Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Dubbing Brush Stonfo Bobtec1  Adjustable Bobbin With Ceramic Insert (Stainless Steel) Stonfo Elite Bodkin (Stainless steel) Stonfo Elite Whip Finisher (Stainless Steel)
Stainless steel Hip Flask Hip Flask
Good Libations Stainless Hip Flask $23.99 $34.95
The Good Libations Stainless Steel Hip Flask  Carry your favourite adult beverage in style with our Good Libations Stainless Steel Hip flask. About the size of a small fly box it's the perfect addition to your fly vest or bag. Smooth rounded corners make for quick extraction in times of celebration. Stainless steel and about as tough as they come, at a hearty 9oz ( 28 ml) there's plenty to share! Stainless Steel Silicon cap retainer Easy sippin' ergo design Bigger than most Cheers! Capacity: 9oz ( 266 ml) Dimensions: 127mm x 83mm x 29ml Material: Stainless Steel Positive Mood Adjustment
Stroft Tippet carry system Stroft Cutter and Carry System - 3 spool Set
Stroft Cutter and Carry System - 3 spool Set $27.95
3 Spool Stroft tippet system Three high quality German made Stroft Cutter & retaining rings - made to fit over standard Stroft tippet Spools. Spool Holder Stroft short strap - Vest strap & Carabiner The ideal system to hold, dispense and trim Stroft tippet A retainer rings and high quality cutter ring. Cutter is razor sharp, and coated in some magical stuff that is corrosion resistant. (We couldn't even spell the alloy) Fits all Stroft spools from 25m to 50m (ABR, GTM, FC!, FC2, Fluer) Includes colour coded easy peel labels  This is an incredibly well made tippet system! *does not include spools of tippet material - Stroft Tippet Spools available for purchase separately  Got questions? - Drop us a line, we'd love to hear from you.

The Epic Fly Rod Chooser

Find your perfect fly rod with our 10 second quiz

Lifetime Warranty
Lifetime Warranty

Love It or Return It

100% total satisfaction guarantee

5 Star Support

Industry leading support and service

Easy Returns

Hassle free returns

World Wide Shipping

Shipping worldwide daily
Experience the Epic® difference.