Sometimes, just having a little more patience is the difference between a tough day and a productive one. When water temps get too extreme one way or the other, fish can become very lethargic and aren't into chasing down a meal quite so readily. In fishing you have to adapt, and this is a prime example of when you've gotta do so. Some anglers can make a big mistake here by not changing up their tactics to match the conditions they encounter.
This really made an impression on me long ago when I first started conventional bass fishing. When fishing in temps far outside the bass' optimal temperature range, I discovered just how beneficial it could be to slow waaaayyyy down. Whether it was a jerkbait or a jig, being less aggressive with the bait and presenting it in close proximity to where I thought the little green dudes were hiding often paid off big time. While simply slowing down the momentum of a lure definitely worked, I also learned the importance of how stopping the retrieve cold sometimes coaxed fish to bite. Flies are no different!
Not all flies remain 100% motionless when you stop the retrieve.
It depends on the conditions and the fly itself. Wind or current may continue to move a fly on its own. If a fly is weighted, it will sink while paused. Certain "lively" materials like marabou or rabbit strip will produce some subtle movement even in calm conditions. The idea here is to just stop forward momentum of the fly in order to slow down the overall presentation.
When stripping a fly for fish that seem content with keeping their mouths shut, try pausing the fly throughout the retrieve and doing so for longer-than-normal periods of time. Letting a fly float, hover, sink, or even sit on the bottom in between single strips or series of strips for, say, 5 or 6 seconds (or longer!) may be the key to enticing a fish to pounce. Combined with a retrieve that covers ground slowly, this thorough presentation can really test your patience, but once that first bite comes the frustration goes bye-bye and it's an instant confidence boost. Wooh!
Like I stated in a previous blog, I always try to envision the fish in the water and how they'll react to my fly. During periods of inactivity, I'm picturing them glued to certain zones or possibly slowly tracking the fly, but needing something a bit extra to be coaxed into striking. When I slowly bring my fly through likely areas with numerous long pauses, the fly isn't moving any great distances quickly which means less effort for a sleepy fish to run it down.
Fish love changes in speed and direction, so be prepared for a bite not just on the strip, but also on the pause itself.
Keep your rod tip at the water's surface and the fly line as taut as possible to increase your chances of feeling a subsurface take while the fly is paused. Also, keep an eye on your line during the pause for any unnatural movements. A slight tick or pull may signal that somebody's home on the other end even if you don't feel it!