Stillwaters can be a totally different ball game to fish compared to rivers. We use similar patterns and adapt them to have more life in water that isn’t moving. One big difference is the fish have more time to examine your fly before committing to eat it. So colour, shape, and realism can really play a factor. Rabbit fur, marabou, and dubbed bodies can make a fly come alive even when the fly isn’t moving. Another big factor is it’s up to the angler to animate their fly and make it look alive. The speed of your retrieve, length of your line stripping, and the length of the pause can play a major role in whether or not you’ll entice a fish to commit. The invention of intermediate sinking fly lines has been a break-through in the stillwater fisherman’s arsenal! This allows the angler to “suspend” their fly and trigger strikes more easily and efficiently, as well work the water column more thoroughly by keeping the fly in the strike zone longer.
Every year and every trip I learn something new and this past trip was a big eye opener for me. Last weekend I got a nicely kyped male brown on an olive zuddler using a slow strip technique on intermediate line. The brown ATE it! A friend of mine was using an olive kiwi muddler and was whacking ‘em good too. This spring will determine whether or not the zuddler and its cousins become my go-to pattern for stillwater browns and tigers.
I tied up this little diddy for browns and tigers which I’ll be focussing on the next couple of weeks!
I’ve been really impressed with the results of fishing zuddler style patterns in stillwaters for predatory trout. When fished with intermediate and type 3 lines, the flies really come alive! Between strips the fly hovers tantalizingly and the rabbit fur continues to breathe in the water. The deerhair head pushes a lot of water and makes a lot of noise which seems to drive trout batty.
When the water warms up and the browns start slamming baitfish near the surface my go-to pattern for tossing to aggressive browns is a deerhair slider pattern. It imitates a wounded baitfish and I’ve caught more browns using this than any other pattern. I use it with a floating line and toss it out in front of a working brown and just give it a couple short pulls on the surface. I especially like tossing this in the early morning and evening along reed lines, flooded timber, and transition zones.
Colour combos don’t really matter too much. I’ve used solid black, solid brown, solid tan, contrasting colours, etc. I add a bit of flash in the tail and a tuft of rabbit fur to give it some life. Deadly…
It’s been a LONG winter and this spring has been teasing us fly fishermen. A slow melt, gloomy weather, and high water, have made for a major contrast to last year’s beautiful spring. Hopefully things will pick up now and fishing will be better than ever!