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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Small Stream Fly Fishing Techniques

Most of the small streams we have in Ontario see far less pressure than the larger, open rivers we have. Casting, accessibility and frustration probably play a large role in why these streams see so little action from fly fishers. Generally, these streams will be about 15 feet wide at their widest, will have terribly overgrown banks and plenty of log jams to hang up on. It takes several trips and many, many lost flies to perfect your ability to fish these streams successfully.

In fishing these streams, you’ll find that casting is virtually impossible….so DON’T do it!! I can’t stress that enough…Do Not Cast like you would fishing larger rivers. Instead, there are a couple of tricks you can master to make fishing these streams a success.

Initially, I like to place myself upstream of potential lies, rather than downstream of them. Use extra caution when manoeuvring through the stream to prevent muddying up the areas downstream of where you are. Move slowly and deliberately. Next, strip out some line, and gradually send your fly downstream, peeling more line out as the fly drifts downstream with the current. Twitching the fly, as well as raising and lowering your rod tip will give the fly some extra motion as it drifts. Guide the fly down current seams, through pocket water, along undercut banks, and most importantly…..straight into log jams! That’s right….with a little practice and patience, you’ll be able to drift your offering straight into a log jam without hanging up every time. Sure, you’ll go through your fair share of flies in practicing this technique, but you will develop the necessary skills to perform the manoeuvre without losing a fly and spooking the hole every time.

Another simple method is dappling. Dappling is similar to High Stick Nymphing, except you have the option of tossing a dry fly around using this method. To begin, position yourself in the stream facing either upstream or down, depending on where you’d like to place your fly. The trick is to have just enough line out to deal with the pocket or riffle you want to tackle. Gently raise your rod, and place the fly ever so gently where you’d like the drift to begin. If using a nymph, twitch the fly around a little as you allow it to settle in a pocket where you think a trout is waiting for a meal. Gently raise and lower your rod while adding the twitching action to mimic a struggling nymph. If using a dry, allow the fly to settle on the surface, and gently twitch and bounce the fly in an attempt to tantalize what lies below the waters surface.

The equipment you want to use on these tiny streams is far different from what you’d likely use on larger rivers. Sure, you could take your 10 foot 7 wt in there, but you’ll likely find more frustration that fish! I like to take along my 8 foot 4wt for these missions. Partly because of the unique situation that these streams present, where light tackle is far better, and partly because a ‘trophy’ fish in these areas will likely be no larger than 16” and rarely over a pound or so. Light tackle makes fighting these tiny gems more enjoyable, as opposed to using a heavier 6 or 7 wt and simply lifting the fish straight out of the water once hooked. I tend to stick with 6x or 7x as my tippet, coupled with a heavier leader in the 6 to 8 pound range. Leaders do not need to be overly long at all. A 5 or 6 foot leader with 1 or 2 feet of tippet material added on should be sufficient for these types of streams.

Productive flies for small stream fishing are plentiful, and you will likely find a couple that suit you just fine after you’ve had a chance to play around out there a little bit. Some of my flies of choice, and some that you should consider starting out with are listed below:

· Nymphs

o Bead Head Hares Ear

o Pheasant Tail

o March Brown

o Small Stonefly

· Dries

o Wulff Patterns

o Elk Hair Caddis

o Any high floating, high-vis hair wing patterns

· Micro Streamers

o Wooley buggers (tied on a size 10 nymph hook)

o Clouser Minnows (tied on a size 10 nymph hook)

o Zonkers (tied on a size 10 nymph hook)

So, there you have it. Small Stream fly fishing techniques simplified. Get out, and get practicing . One last note……fish every inch of any particular lie before moving on. Be sure you have covered every singe inch of water!

Find more info at www.flyfishontario.ca


Steve Dobson March 30, 2008 at 6:51 AM  

What a great article. The photography is superb as usual too.
I'm reluctant to admit how much I'm learning from this blog.
April first is opening day here in Nova Scotia. The weather is pretty lousy right now but I'm hoping for a miracle.


baraz March 31, 2008 at 4:10 AM  

Thanks for the kind words Steve!! Good luck on Tuesday!! Hopefully you guys get some nice weather out there!!


Mr. Blatt,  September 7, 2008 at 1:57 AM  

Very nice and usefull article.
Perhaps i do flyfish about 8 years
(mostly streamer eater species) now i'm heading for more chalenging species that inhabit small streams around here. This one
will be a great help.
Nice Job.

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