On the first drift, a solid rainbow rose quickly, inspected the fly from an inch away (if not closer), refused to take and dropped back down. I was surprised to get the refusal and immediately put another cast in the same spot. Nothing. Knowing the fish was obviously looking up, I tied on a different fly. This time, a Klinkhamer style dry/emerger with a gray biot body. Another fly that had produced a lot of fish on the day.
First cast with this fly, the fish rose, again inspected, again refused. Not only are refusals not that common in water like this, but I just had this fish do it twice on good presentations with flies that brought fish to the net all day! I switched gears and went terrestrial, tying on a tiny size 16 deer hair beetle.
On the first cast with the beetle, without hesitation, the fish rose again and crushed the fly. I made a good set and brought the fish to hand. It was one of the better fish I had caught on the day, and it strangely felt good to outwit a critter with a brain the size of a pea, if not smaller.
I barely moved a few feet upstream on the same run and made a longer cast towards the head of the run with the same beetle. A larger rainbow than the one I had just released rose hard and crushed the little beetle. This fish was the best wild trout I brought to hand on the day, and I can probably thank the first rainbow for prompting me to switch flies leading to this fish.
Not long after this happened, I caught two fish substantially larger on streamer patterns in the bigger water downstream from this little tributary. However, as fun as it was catching the bigger fish, these two little rainbows were the most memorable fish from the day. They made me work for them, and were sweet victories for the trip.