Tips & Tricks

How to fly fish tight, low, skinny water

Fishing tight, low, skinny water might be concurrently irritating and rewarding. And fishing these tiny creeks—most of that are so small anglers step over them and not using a second thought—usually looks like extra work than it’s price. Whether or not due to combating brush and dropping flies, or coping with impossibly spooky fish, it’s maybe unsurprising that many anglers skip over this type of water.

But for each irritating, brush-choked creek that’s a nightmare to fish, there’s one like my secret cutthroat stream. This stream tumbles for 3 miles down a steep canyon, and is overgrown for many of its size. On the stretches the place it’s open sufficient to forged, the water is so low and clear that you simply spend the day fishing out of your knees. But it surely’s one of many few locations I’ve discovered the place you’ll be able to realistically catch 100 fish in a single day. The cutthroat additionally occur to a number of the prettiest I’ve caught anyplace, they usually’ll take any well-presented dry fly. These form of advantages, by my accounting, simply outweigh the burden of dropping flies and combating by means of brush.

However regardless of its potential rewards, tight, low, skinny water can generally be tougher than even a technical tailwater. Any such fishing requires a singular set of expertise to deal with efficiently. Fortunately, I’ve had the chance to develop that skillset over a lifetime spent fishing a majority of these creeks. Listed here are some tips.

Verify the temps

On these streams, it ought to go with out saying that you’ll want to take note of water temperatures earlier than fishing. If the water is 65 levels or hotter, then you need to discover someplace else to fish. As temperatures climb previous 65, the quantity of oxygen obtainable within the water decreases—and trout want oxygen simply as badly as us.

Rods and reels

The number-one difficulty for many anglers on tight, low, skinny water is their gear. Sure, your 9’ 5wt is a do-it-all rod for many conditions. However tight creeks and five-inch fish aren’t most conditions. That’s like taking a .338 Lapua rabbit searching. You’ll both miss the rabbit totally or blow it to smithereens.

I’ve a bevy of ultralight rods only for this objective, however you don’t want a 5’9” 1wt to be efficient on tight water. If in case you have a 7’ or 7’6” 3 or 4wt, you’ll be in enterprise. I’d err on the facet of a 3wt, as a result of it’ll offer you a softer presentation than a 4wt usually.

With such a lightweight rod, you don’t want a reel with bonefish-stopping energy. A click-and-pawl reel is simply effective, since all of the reel does in these conditions is maintain line. I’ve but to come across a fish so huge on water two toes extensive or narrower that demanded any form of drag.

Lastly, I’d counsel that your rod is one with a stiff butt and midsection, however a versatile tip. You’ll find yourself utilizing the tip to forged in plenty of tight conditions, and rods which might be totally quick or gradual are likely to land your flies within the timber extra usually.

Chief and tippet

I like a 7’6” 4 or 5x fluorocarbon chief for tight water. Shorter leaders are simpler to manage, which ought to imply you’ll lose fewer flies.

A heavier, shorter chief additionally casts higher when you’ve got little or no fly line out the tip of your rod. That is what I discuss with as “doing away with the tip”—whenever you’re simply shifting the rod sufficient that the tip flexes and throws chief out a number of toes. Consider it as a extra energetic type of dapping, if that helps you visualize.

When you’re on low, skinny water that’s so clear the fish appear to spook whenever you’re nonetheless a mile away, then it’s time to get inventive.

On this state of affairs, I like an extended chief—9 toes to start out, and never larger than 5x. Then I’ll add a number of extra toes of tippet and finally taper all the way down to 7x. The tippet must both be fluorocarbon, or if you wish to use mono, Stroft is the model I take advantage of. Stroft is German-made tippet, so it’s not popping out of the identical Japanese factories the place RIO, SA, Orvis, and everybody else makes their tippet. Stroft can be a extra delicate blue-gray coloration that blends into the water effectively, with out scaring fish, or sinking like fluorocarbon does.

I’ve used Stroft on huge flat water in Oregon, the place the browns rise to measurement 28 parachute midges, with nice outcomes. They even make tippet in half sizes, and 6.5x is my favourite for addressing low, skinny water.

Now, in case your skinny water can be lined in tight brush, and also you don’t have room to forged an 11-foot chief, then you’ve gotten a number of choices.

Both manner, I’d begin out with a brief part of 3x chief. From there, you’ll be able to blood knot tippet on in 12-inch sections till you get to six or 7x. Or, you’ll be able to tie on a tippet ring and instantly go to 7x off the ring.

I’ve come to choose the tippet ring strategy, as a result of it’s far sufficient away from the place your fly lands—and tippet rings are typically sufficiently small—that it doesn’t make an undue disturbance on the water when it lands. It additionally permits for lots faster setup, and also you don’t have to fret about as many knots failing.

Working the water

After I began fly fishing, one of many largest errors I made was that I by no means successfully lined water. The best way my dad put it, I skipped good water for the very best water, and subsequently ruined each.

With low, skinny, tight water, it’s essential to methodically work your manner by means of it. Do not forget that fish have a tendency to carry both within the riffles, or instantly beneath them. In swimming pools, fish the tailout first, then work your strategy to the top.

Dap your flies behind, to the edges, and in entrance of each rock. Achieve this from a excessive vantage level, however keep low and hidden sufficient that your silhouette received’t spook the fish. Get a number of good drifts previous each undercut financial institution you’ll be able to.

On larger rivers, this methodical strategy generally isn’t sensible. On water that’s two or three toes extensive, you’ll be able to hit all the aforementioned spots in about 5 minutes.

Skipping water, although, and instantly casting to a seam on the head of a pool, is a surefire strategy to break plenty of good water, and subsequently, all the remaining.

Keep mushy and low

As you fish small water, it’s essential to understand that the one manner you’ll achieve success is by committing to maintain your casts mushy and delicate. Moreover, you want that very same dedication to remain low, and keep away from making a threatening silhouette. I’ve scared extra fish in low, clear water by standing up too excessive, than I’ve with any errant casts (of which there have been a lot).

Conserving your casts mushy is a way you be taught solely by means of trial and error. I’ve fished water like this usually sufficient that I do know what I have to do to ensure that my casts to land softly. With the rods I fish, I’ve discovered a slight motion of my wrist is all I want. My arm and shoulder hardly transfer.

Your course of is likely to be fully completely different. The one strategy to inform is to get on the market and do it.

Fly choice

I saved this for final as a result of fly choice is absolutely the least essential think about success on low, skinny water. Clearly, you’ll be able to’t throw simply something and anticipate success. I largely stick with pure patterns with earthy colours—elk hair caddis, blue-winged olives, and zebra midges.

Except there’s a hatch, otherwise you see fish keyed in on emergers or spent-wings, there’s no purpose to get fancy. A measurement 14 or 16 elk hair caddis, with a measurement 18 zebra midge dropper, is all of the fly choice you want.

Now, I do know I mentioned this on the outset, however I promise that low, skinny, and clear water isn’t as a lot of a ache as you assume. The fish you discover whereas out on one of these water usually redeem the trouble and misplaced flies. On the very least, do not forget that you’re out fishing, as a substitute of doing one thing else.

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