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Old 08-14-2013, 08:29 PM
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Question Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

Anyone have advice for rainbow and brown trout fishing in a steep fast gradient? It's not so steep that there are falls or plunge pools but its definitely not flat and its fast. I kinda feel like I don't know what I'm doing cause the water is fast and what I perceive as pockets are small. I did not get skunked, I caught a couple in close pockets swinging a wooly booger. Looking for advice on how to better cover the water. Oh yeah we are talking about 50-60 feet wide at the extreme.
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Old 08-14-2013, 09:51 PM
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Default Re: Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

First, the housekeeping.... make sure the belt is tight on your waders, and carry a wading staff.
On water like that on the Snake, we look for seams and riffles. Fish like to wait for their next meal to come to them, but can't afford the energy to hang out in rapid water. Look for places for fish to see what's coming, but can hold in a secure place while they wait. Not to get all " Zen" about it, but put yourself in the fish's place.... where would you be in rapid water ? Try an attractor and a dropper and see which gets the most action, and use what worked there before, also.
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Old 08-14-2013, 09:53 PM
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Default Re: Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

Unless there are some longer current lanes where I can get a good drift, casting is basically out. I look to drift flies along the seam between the fast water and the slow pockets, especially nymphs. Tend to fish larger, bushier flies. Helps fish see them and in that fast current they don't have as much time to consider the fly - take it now or lose it. Dries can be a blast when fish are willing. Wulff patters, humpies, etc. Easy for you and the fish to see. Popping it down on the soft water behind a rock can get a take as can drifting it through riffles and seams. With this kind of water I try to hit likely spots with a few drifts and keep moving. Dry dropper rigs can be good though the fast water can mess them up - dry taken one way and the nymph another.
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:13 PM
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Default Re: Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

I'll assume a single hander rod here.

Get a line with a 'clear' weighted sink tip, you don't need a full on 'slime line.' Deep sinker you don't need (well, there may be exceptions to that comment) just use a heavier fly off a 5 - 7 foot leader. Longer is NOT better.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:59 AM
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Default Re: Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

okbow68: Timely question seeing how I just came back from fishing a small stream that had a leg just like you were describing, very fast high gradiant, but only about 15 ft wide at the most. It didn't really have seams like lower gradiant waters have, it was more pocket water and it was extremely brushy on both sides so sneaking along the bank was out of the question. I took one look at that and bypassed it, although it did look very interesting. My wading boots have the new rubber soles but no cleats, they do fine in most general wading but that section of the stream just looked to me to be too dangerous without cleats. I've been thinking about adding cleats, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm guessing with a good set of cleats, a wading staff and the advice the others have given a person would do very well in water like that......using big bushy dry flies and drop them in front and behind all the boulders.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:13 AM
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Default Re: Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

The first thing I would try is a heavy nymph just far enough ahead of the boulders to get down and drift tight against them so the nymph can swirl around behind the rock and hover there for a while before it takes off downstream.

I love fishing the transition between the fast current and the backside of the rocks.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:23 AM
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Default Re: Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

In a good riffle, look for the pockets. The areas of calm water in amongst the broken. Even a pocket the size of a dinner plate will hold fish.
Depending on the water depth, the fish don't have much choice if they want to stay out of the fast water so they will be in those pockets in the right conditions.
Get a good drift on the first cast as drag will be the biggest issue casting over conflicting currents.
Fly selection is less important as the trout will grab pretty much anything that passes by in a natural looking manner.
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:09 AM
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Default Re: Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

This is some of my favorite water to hunt. Don't expect to get long, perfect drifts. Expect to make short flips upstream over and over. The term "high sticking" might come in to play here too. Try to keep as little fly line on the water as possible. The less fly line you have on the water, the more control you will have in the fast, swirling water. Use bigger flies than you would normall use. I like to tie on something big (sz 4-8) at the end of my tippet, and then go up about 18 inches and use a triple surgeons knot to tie on a short, 12 inches or so, section of tippet. I This is where I attach my smaller fly, usually a size 12-14 hares ear. As my bigger fly, I love something with a bunch of legs and movement. Pat's Rubber legs is my go to fly here. A lot of movement, and I usually double weight mine when tying, so they are heavy. I won't usually add any weight to the line, but if I feel I am not getting down deep enough, I will tie another short section of tippet to the hook shank of the bottom fly, and put a couple split shot on the bottom of the rig. Being that wide, there are probably several seams that are not very obvious to see. Dissect each section, and fish it thoroughly. If the water is knee to waist deep, expect to catch the rainbows out of the faster riffles, and the brown out of the slack water at the tail end or sides of the riffles. I wish I could join you and fish it for myself. By the way, what state?
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:11 AM
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Default Re: Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

Perfect water for high-stick nymphing. Nice thing is that trout holding in this kind of water rarely see anglers as most would just pass by on their way to the next easy glide.

I have a nice #12 golden stonefly nymph - tungsten beadhead w/ 12 wraps of lead - that works nicely as the anchor in a 2-fly rig. Above this I'll use whatever happens to be "in season" for that particular river and time of year.

This is good water for fishing large (weighted) free-living caddis larva as well.

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Old 08-15-2013, 10:03 AM
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Default Re: Advise on fishing steep fast gradients?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rip Tide View Post
Fly selection is less important as the trout will grab pretty much anything that passes by in a natural looking manner.
Yeah, that's my experience fishing fast water. The fish don't have much time to be picky so they'll hit it quick and either let it go or keep it. A couple of casts/drifts per hole is about all the chance you'll get. I work my way up stream fishing pockets along the way. Works for me.
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