Domenick Swentosky

Life on the water. Troutbitten is a deep dive into fly fishing for wild trout in wild places. Author and guide, Domenick Swentosky, shares stories, tips, tactics and conversations with friends about fly fishing through the woods and water. Explore more. Fish hard. And discover fly fishing at Troutbitten.com — an extensive resource with 700+ articles about trout, friends, family and the river.
Reading of "The Kid" -- With Special Guests Joey and Aiden
In this tenth podcast, I read a story that I first published with Hatch Magazine in 2016. It’s titled, The Kid, and it’s one of my favorites.My sons Joey (13) and Aiden (11) join me for the question and answer round. They answer a few questions, and they read a few from podcast listeners.Way back in 2014, I started Troutbitten as a way to document all of this for my two sons. I wanted a record of the fishing stories and the things that I’d learned about trout fishing over the years. Really, that was the goal. Those were the roots of Troutbitten.My boys have been part of my fishing life since their beginnings. They’ve been out there with me since they were born. I was a daytime Dad, and I worked at night. So the boys and I spent many, many days hiking beside rivers, eating lunch streamside and casting into moving water. My goal has always been to give them a base of appreciation for the outdoors and to feel comfortable in nature. Of course I hope they keep fishing with me as they grow older, but if nothing else, they will always have the sounds of a river embedded deep in their memories.Question and Answer RoundJoey, what's your favorite way to catch trout?Aiden, what do you like best out there, besides the fishing?Joey, what's the best way to get a kid into fishing?From Podcast Listeners:Does the clinch knot for connecting the leader to the fly line loop cut into the fly line?Has their ever been a time when you wanted to quit fishing? How'd you get through it?What’s the next step for Troutbitten? Have you ever thought about starting a fly shop?ResourcesREAD: Troutbitten | Category | Fishing With KidsREAD: Troutbitten | Born to Fish BigREAD: Troutbitten | LegendaryREAD: Troutbitten | The Twenty Dollar CastREAD: Troutbitten | Fishing With Kids -- The Independence MarkerREAD: Troutbitten | Loop to Loop is Bad -- Try Attaching Your Leader This WayVisit:Troutbitten WebsiteTroutbitten InstagramTroutbitten YouTubeTroutbitten FacebookPre-Roll SponsorsVisit Grip StudsVisit Tactical Fly Fisher
5d ago
23 mins
Breaking Down Streamer Presentations
While fishing a streamer, we’re trying to make it look alive. That's the difference. Because, while fly fishing other styles, we spend so much of our time dead drifting dry flies and nymphs and trying to impart no motion, that switching to streamers is a relief. It’s liberating. It’s fun.And so many presentations — so many looks to the streamer — can be attractive and convincing. Because everything works sometimes.But day to day, some retrieves and presentations just work better. And there’s no question about it. Sometimes, hammering the banks with a fast jerk-strip brings the big trout out to play. And other days it’s a soft crossover technique that really turns on those same trout.The joy of streamer fishing is that so many things can work. And trying them all is a great way to spend our time on the water.On a dry fly, I’ll tell you what they want: It’s a dead drift. On a nymph? Same thing. And the closer you can get to that pure, unaltered drift, the more convincing your fly presentation will be.But on streamers? Show them a slow slide or a head flip. Give them a speed lead, a touch-and-go or an endless retrieve. See what works.That’s the fun of streamer fishing. Make the fly look alive in the water. It’s not dead drifting anymore — it’s swimming a living baitfish that can do a bunch of predictable and unpredictable things.Sometimes it seems like the trout are looking for one kind of action on the fly — or at least that’s what turns them on most. Other times, many of these presentations seem to work. But the point is to make that fly swim. Give life to the streamer. Convince the trout that they’re looking at a living, swimming creature.And that's what this podcast conversation is about -- breaking down streamer presentations. How do we move the fly with the line hand and the rod tip, with strips, jigs, twitches and more? This discussion, with four of my best fishing friends, is about what makes each presentations to the fly unique. How does what we do on our end of the line affect what happens at the other end?We Discuss the FollowingStripping and hand twistingLine hand motion vs rod tip motionRod position upon fly entryContact vs slackJig, jerks, twitches, pulses, stripsHead positionDepthSpeedHolding seams vs crossing seamsNatural vs attractive presentationsMake it easy or make them chaseResourcesREAD: Troutbitten | Category | StreamersREAD: Troutbitten | Modern Streamers -- Too Much Motion?READ: Troutbitten | Streamers as an Easy Meal -- The Old School Streamer ThingREAD: Troutbitten | Streamer Presentations -- The Death DriftREAD: Troutbitten | Streamer Presentations -- The Deadly Slow SlideVisit:Troutbitten WebsiteTroutbitten InstagramTroutbitten YouTubeTroutbitten FacebookPre-Roll SponsorsVisit Grip StudsVisit Tactical Fly Fisher
Nov 16 2021
1 hr 6 mins
How Many Trout Do You Catch? Expectations, the Liars and Reality
We’re out there to catch trout. That’s what brings us to the water. But how many do we catch? And really, how many should we catch? What are the expectations? And how can we know that we’re fishing well?In some way, maybe none of this matters. It’s not really about numbers, right? it’s about the experience.Sure it is. And we all agree with that. But as I’ve written on Troutbitten, there are two sides to every fisherman — one that just wants to go fishing and is happy to be out there, and another that desperately wants to understand the techniques — to solve the ever present mystery of how to catch more trout. And Troutbitten aims to address both of these sides.In truth, it’s the tactical side that keeps us coming back. Most long-term anglers go fishing to learn something and to improve a skill. And as we learn and refine our craft, we enjoy everything that the woods and the water give to us. The endless discovery is the joy of trout fishing. We’re thankful that it’s different every day, and we know we’ll never learn or experience all of it.So if the goal is to improve and study and refine, then the numbers in the net do matter. Because it’s the trout that ultimately decide if the drift is any good. The trout tell us if we’ve solved that daily mystery. A fish at the end of the line is confirmation that our decisions and efforts are good ones.Counting is a way to gauge our success, not just against how well we did last time out, but how well we are doing compared to what is possible. What’s the bar? What’s the ceiling? How many trout could be caught if we had everything just right — the best fly and the perfect drift.I think every fisherman asks those questions — How am I doing relative to what is possible?And that . . . is what this podcast discussion is about.We Discuss the FollowingCatch rate vs catch numbersConditions and expectationsStaying groundedWhat is a catch?Sometimes the goal is not to catch the most troutAll fishermen are liarsTypes of trout and changing expectationsHow chosen tactics change expectationsResourcesREAD: Troutbitten | Fly Anglers in Profile -- The Numbers GuyREAD: Troutbitten | Two Sides to Every FishermanREAD: Troutbitten | How to Fish With FriendsREAD: Troutbitten | Missing the MorningsVisit:Troutbitten WebsiteTroutbitten InstagramTroutbitten YouTubeTroutbitten FacebookPre-Roll SponsorsVisit Grip StudsVisit Tactical Fly Fisher
Nov 9 2021
1 hr 1 min
The Freewheelin' Troutbitten -- Junk Flies, Spot Burns, Ethics and More
This is our seventh podcast episode in the first season. And we’ve done this enough now to get into a rhythm. If you’ve listened to previous episodes, you know that we’ve kept the topics tightly focused on just one aspect of fly fishing for trout. And before we dig into those topics we always do a question and answer session with my friends.But in this episode we mix it up. This is the Freewheelin’ Troutbitten, with an hour long question and answer session — just a freeform conversation about trout fishing on a fly rod and  a few other things mixed in.It's a fun discussion filled with details and tactical takeaways, with some good disagreements, differing opinions and good humor.We Discuss the FollowingFavorite Pheasant TailsJunk FliesMost memorable loss of gearCan you fish an area so much that it becomes unethical?Pet peeves of social mediaSpot BurningIf you had one cast to catch a trout . . .Displacing troutThe biggest lies in the fly fishing industryWhat skill most helps anglers get to the next level?Favorite months of the year to fishWhat holds anglers back the most?Can trout sense what's coming next?ResourcesREAD: Troutbitten | Confidence Flies -- Seventeen NymphsREAD: Troutbitten | Super FlyREAD: Troutbitten | A Fisherman's Thoughts on Friendship and Spot BurningREAD: Troutbitten | The SecretREAD: Troutbitten | When the First Cast Matters MostREAD: Troutbitten | Winter Welcome HomeVisit:Troutbitten WebsiteTroutbitten InstagramTroutbitten YouTubeTroutbitten FacebookPre-Roll SponsorsVisit Grip StudsVisit Tactical Fly Fisher
Nov 3 2021
1 hr
Reading Water, and Cherry Picking vs Full Coverage
In this episode, my friends join me to share some of their best tips for reading water — seeing a trout stream, recognizing the currents in a river that hold trout and having the confidence to target them.Then we get into the philosophy of Cherry Picking or Full Coverage. That is, the speed at which we cover water. How fast do you move from one place to the next? And what are the merits of hole hopping or trying to efficiently cover every likely piece of river that holds a trout? Because there are a couple of different ways to approach your time out there. And it’s helpful to think about the best ways to use it.Reading water is a skill to be learned intentionally or by accident. Among the hundreds of tactical articles on Troutbitten is a full category for reading water, where each article addresses one facet of the skill.Reading water is something we can all improve upon. By sharing tips, and by understanding how our friends look at the same piece of water, we can see the stream in a whole new way. My friends have some great tips for how they read water.The conversation then turns to cherry picking and full coverage . . .The fisherman’s path leads from one prime spot to the next, leaving a good bit of the river — maybe most of it — unfished. That’s cherry picking. It’s choosing the best pieces of water and ignoring the rest. And it can be a great strategy for catching a bunch of fish . . . sometimes. But there are some caveats, too.Working an entire stretch of water can be harder. But once learned, it might be a more productive long-term strategy. Full coverage of the river reveals a lot more about trout habits and opens up opportunities to grow into a more complete angler. And once you catch on to the rhythm of the process, full coverage is a fun way to fish too. We discuss the merits and the best times for each approach.The Q&A Round CoversStreamer size vs streamer colorOrganizing fly tying hooks and beadsWhat's more memorable -- losing a big fish or landing one?Why Trevor hates lunch meatJosh and the PBJ revelationWe Discuss the FollowingPotholes in rifflesThe seams around rocksFinding water that is big-fish-speedLooking upstream to find the seamsFind feeding fish, then cherry pickCherry pick to save timeCherry pick out of necessityFull coverage as a learning toolFull coverage out of necessityResourcesREAD: Troutbitten | Category | Reading WaterREAD: Troutbitten | Cherry Picking vs Full CoverageREAD: Troutbitten | At the Front Door of Every RockREAD: Troutbitten | Look Upstream to Find the SeamsREAD: Troutbitten | Levels, Resets and New BeginningsREAD: Troutbitten | Every Rock Creates Five SeamsREAD: Troutbitten | Trout Like to Do What Their Friends Are DoingVisit:Troutbitten WebsiteTroutbitten InstagramPre-Roll SponsorsVisit Grip StudsVisit Tactical Fly Fisher
Oct 25 2021
55 mins
Fly Fishing the Mono Rig -- Versatility and the Tight Line Advantage Taken Further
After hundreds of Troutbitten articles featuring the versatility of the Mono Rig, now there's a podcast. My friends Josh, Austin, Trevor and Bill join me to discuss how each of us fishes this hybrid rig as a complete fly fishing system, detailing the ultimate flexibility of this amazing tool.The Troutbitten Mono Rig is a hybrid system for fishing all types of flies: nymphs (both tight line and indicator styles), streamers, dry-dropper, wets, and small dry flies. With twenty pound monofilament as a fly line substitute, better contact, control and strike detection are gained with the Mono Rig versus a traditional fly line approach. And yet, the casting here is still a fly line style cast. Ironically, it takes excellent fly casting skills to efficiently throw a Mono Rig.The Mono Rig is similar to tight line and Euro Nymphing styles, however . . . it’s a full system for fishing all fly types, with and without indicators — with and without split shot. The Mono Rig is a very versatile tool. And that’s the focus of this podcast. We all fish similar mono rigs with some variation. And we all use it in different ways, too. Some are slight. Some are major. This discussion provides a full picture of what the Mono Rig really is and what you can do with it — all the options — and all the versatility.We Discuss the Following:Mono Rig Butt Sections and DiametersTight Line NymphingEuro NymphingTight Line to the IndicatorTight Line Dry DropperStreamers on the Mono RigDry Flies on a Mono RigFly Rod Selection for the Mono RigResourcesREAD: Troutbitten | Category | The Mono RigREAD: Troutbitten | Design and Function of the Troutbitten Standard Mono RigREAD: Troutbitten | The Mono Rig and Why Fly Line SucksREAD: Troutbitten | The Full Mono Rig System -- All the variations, formulas and adjustmentsREAD: Troutbitten | Euro Nymphing and the Mono RigREAD: Troutbitten | Beyond Euro NymphingVisit:Troutbitten WebsiteTroutbitten InstagramTroutbitten YouTubeTroutbitten FacebookPre-Roll SponsorsVisit Grip StudsVisit Tactical Fly Fisher
Oct 19 2021
1 hr 20 mins
Wild Trout vs Stocked -- The Hierarchy of River Trout
Keep wild trout wild. Not all trout are created equal, and there are many differences in the trout we catch -- in their appearances and their behaviors. Wild trout, stocked trout, holdover trout, fingerlings and club fish are very much a different breed -- or at least they can seem that way.My friends join me for an honest discussion about the trout we pursue. All of us fish for every kind of trout on the list. And all of these trout hold value -- but not equally.We believe wild trout populations should be protected, wherever they are found. That starts by eliminating the stocking of hatchery trout over wild trout. And it continues by finding struggling wild trout populations and helping them -- strengthening their numbers by improving water quality and habitat. Neither government nor private organizations should be permitted to stock over established wild trout populations. Full stop.Why does a wild trout matter? Because it’s real. Because it’s adaptable. Because it holds the evolutionary genetics for surviving in its own river system. Because it is a strong, lasting creature. Because wild trout are (most often) more challenging to catch. Sometimes they’re harder to find. Because they are survivors. Because they are a symbol of nature’s persistence against human intervention. And a wild trout, in all its beauty, is . . . simply . . . wild.In this episode, we talk about each of the five kinds of trout that we catch, because this hierarchy holds up all across the country, not just here in Pennsylvania.Wild TroutFingerlingHoldoverStockieClub FishAll trout have value. And if you are having a great time catching trout, well, that’s the point. Enjoy it. Get out there, fish hard and have fun.And yet, there’s also nothing wrong with addressing this topic and understanding that there are major differences in the trout we catch. Stocked trout are often nothing like their wild counterparts. This is true.We discuss the following:The harm done by stocking over wild troutStocked trout habitsHow to tell the differenceThe important value of stocked fishHow club fish set up expectationsWe believe that wild trout, wherever they are found, should be kept wild and given a chance. It's important to recognize the exceptional value of wild trout and to understand the limited value of the stocked trout. We should not get them confused. By pushing for regulations that protect wild trout and enhance their habitat we can prepare a better future. By choosing to showcase wild fish over hatchery fakes we send a signal.Value the wild trout. Protect it. Catch it, and release it.  And yes, value the stocked trout for what it is. ResourcesREAD: Troutbitten | The Hierarchy of Trout In PennsylvaniaREAD: Troutbitten | Posted -- Club Fish -- 2065READ: Troutbitten | Why Wild Trout MatterREAD: Troutbitten | What Happened to Laurel Run? The Story of a Stocked Trout Stream and a FishermanREAD: Troutbitten | Does a Stocked Trout Ever Become Wild?Visit:Troutbitten WebsiteTroutbitten InstagramPre-Roll SponsorsVisit Grip StudsVisit Tactical Fly Fisher
Oct 12 2021
1 hr 1 min
Night Fishing for Trout, and the Mouse Emerger Concept
Night fishing is a mystery with no resolution. Every other aspect of fly fishing for trout has been written about, understood and expanded upon. Lifetimes of information are available at your fingertips — the lives of so many fishermen who’ve come before you. You can read the accounts of their discoveries, their failures, their new ideas and understandings.But the night fishing game? It’s like a bare cupboard.There are very, very few people who’ve spent much time on the water at night. And there are even fewer anglers who’ve written or shared good information about fishing for trout after dark.Because there are so few practitioners of the night game, so few anglers willing (and able) to put in the hours and search for those answers, we find the same beliefs repeated time after time. The same advice. The same wives tales rerun again and again, because they sound like they make sense.The truth is, night fishing is hard. Consistency is elusive — maybe it’s not even possible. But after years of experiencing that kind of failure, I found an answer. I discovered a fly and a handful of tactics that turned the hook-up ratio around. And I started landing far more trout by fishing what I’ve come to think of as a mouse emerger.In this podcast episode, my friends Josh and Trevor join me to discuss the mouse emerger concept.What is it? And why does a mouse emerger fool more trout than other approaches? Why do trout attack flies but refuse them so often at night?(Companion Troutbitten article for this podcast is found HERE) In this night fishing episode, we discuss the flies:— The Bad Mother— Lynch’s White Bellied Mouse— The Pendragon— The Black Rogue— The Gypsy QueenAnd we dig into the tactics for fishing a mouse emerger style:— Locations— Retrieves— Angles— Speed— And the deadly Slow SlideSince 2014, I’ve published over 700 articles on Troutbitten.com. These are fishing stories, tips, tactics and commentary. But it all started with a tale about night fishing that I titled, One of These Days. Since then, I’ve written a forty-part, ongoing series about Night Fishing for Trout, and there’s much more to be learned and discovered. Find those night fishing articles and so much more at Troutbitten.com.ResourcesREAD: Troutbitten | Series | Night Fishing for TroutPresentations -- The Deadly Slow SlideMoonlight, Starlight and City LightBack In Black -- The Night ShiftHeadlamps, Flashlights and Glow in the Dark Stuff Upside Down and BackwardVisit:Troutbitten WebsiteTroutbitten InstagramTroutbitten YouTubeTroutbitten FacebookPre-Roll SponsorsVisit Grip StudsVisit Tactical Fly Fisher
Oct 4 2021
1 hr 9 mins
How to Handle a Trout | Safe Catch and Release -- From Hooking a Trout to Letting It Go
Fish cold water, fight 'em fast, handle gently, release quickly. In this second edition of the Troutbitten podcast, my friends Bill, Austin, Trevor and Josh join me to discuss safe catch and release practices, from hooking a trout to letting it go. Because if the goal of catch and release is to put a trout back and catch it again, then we want to ensure that the health of the fish remains intact.Some of the catch and release best practices might seem like common sense. But the truth is, handling a trout without harming it isn’t necessarily intuitive. It takes some forethought and preparation. You need the right tools — the right skills. And it takes a good understanding of how trout are built — how they are a little more sensitive than other species. It helps to understand the trout and learn its habits, if you plan to release the fish without harming it.There’s a lot of nuance in topics like this. And we cover the details around these key principles: Fish cold water, fight 'em fast, handle gently, release quickly.At every level of experience, we’re always learning and trying to improve or share ideas about the fish we chase. The Troutbitten guys joining me are full of ideas, and they share some great thoughts about how to handle a trout.Lastly, we discuss how experience is the only teacher. We acknowledge that mistakes inevitably happen. We've all killed trout accidentally, and it's part of the learning process. But education is the best preparation for releasing a trout safely. And hopefully, it's podcasts and shared information, like this, that gives fly anglers the confidence to go fishing and enjoy their time on the water.Here are a few key supporting articles from Troutbitten:READ: Troutbitten | How to Hold a TroutREAD: Troutbitten | Their Heart in Your HandsREAD: Troutbitten | Are We Taking the Safety of Trout Too Far?READ: Troutbitten | If You Have to Revive a Trout, It's Probably Too LateREAD: Troutbitten | Category | Fighting FishVisit:Troutbitten WebsiteTroutbitten InstagramTroutbitten YouTubeTroutbitten FacebookPre-Roll SponsorsVisit Grip StudsVisit Tactical Fly Fisher
Sep 27 2021
1 hr
This Is Troutbitten | Fly Fishing for Wild Trout -- Family, Friends and the River