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Coldwater Fly Fishing Trout, Salmon, Steelhead, etc...

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Old 03-28-2015, 07:32 PM
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Default any tips on fishing slow pools?

hi everyone,

im still a newbie at the fly fishing game, and ive been avoiding fishing slow pools, no matter the depth. it seems like no matter what i try, i get nothing. i know its so much easier to spook the whole pool with one wrong move or a stumble, and a splashdown cast and not getting into the water quietly are the best ways to put a whole pool down, but im at a loss as to what flies and strategies to use once i find one that i am sure has some fish in it. ive tried dries that match, nymphs ive seined from the water, but no results.

would some of you more experienced anglers mind sharing your experience and thoughts on this?

thanks,

jim
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Old 03-28-2015, 07:56 PM
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Default Re: any tips on fishing slow pools?

I don't qualify as experienced by any stretch and I am sure there are a dozen ways to skin this cat My local southern Driftless streams are very slow and I catch 2/3 of my trout in very slow pools. I stay as stealth as I can and throw flies that drop very slow. Traditional wet flies like partridge and orange, partridge and peacock work very well. Or a lightly weighted leech pattern. A small Wooly and especially a Simi-seal leech have worked very consistently for me. By mid summer small terrestrials like ants work well too. My nymphs fall too fast but they would probably work if tied lighter. I just haven't tried it yet and certainly wouldn't eliminate the possibility. No idea where you are fishing but around here small works best. Wets in the #16 range and leeches around #10-12. Bigger stuff hasn't worked nearly as well for me.
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Old 03-28-2015, 08:35 PM
 
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Default Re: any tips on fishing slow pools?

For big long pools.

1. During the day - wait for a hatch

2. Fish at night and use flies with a black silouette and vibration:

a. A big dry fly like a moth, George Harvey "pusher" Night Fly. The night fly has pushers that push water and clip back causing vibrations.

Click the image to open in full size.

Nymph, Brush and Night Fishing for Trout | Joe Humphreys | Fly Fishing

b. A black panfish popper

c. Black wooly bugger or a fly with an acoustic footprint like a black Down and Dirty Leech

Gary Borger The Down & Dirty Leech

d. Mouse

Nymph, Brush and Night Fishing for Trout | Joe Humphreys | Fly Fishing
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Old 03-28-2015, 11:01 PM
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Default Re: any tips on fishing slow pools?

Though not very skilled at it what I'll often try is more about casting than the fly. Now if you see them rising in the pool fine, use your dries, if not then your nymphs. The real trick though is getting the fly to move naturally however and not like a roadrunner that at the last second saw the coyote.

What I mean by that is, you're trying not to spook the fish by lobbing a bunch of line into the Stillwater so you tend to cast above it and hope it drifts in, yet instead it skirts around, or you drop the fly into the upstream side of the pool and just when it gets to where you want it suddenly your line drifting faster yanks it away.

So first off, practice your line mending.

One way I like that works for me a little better such times instead of just flipping it is to roll cast to perform the mend in that I tend to get a lot more line up ahead giving the fly more time to drift through....The way I do that is, I'll first off leave a fair sized length of line as a loop when I cast (back by the reel) and cast far enough ahead of the pool that the fly and line can drift some toward it.

Then I'll instantly dip the tip of my rod toward the water, let the water strip out the line then raise my rod and perform the roll cast to the same spot I cast to before. That will put more line up ahead without lifting the fly or leader which grants more time before the faster current reels it all in and starts dragging the fly.......Think of it as an unskilled man's pile cast.

Another option is to consider where most of the food is actually travelling through. In a nutshell, most of what is coming downstream will tend to divert into the water right at the edge of the still and current. So with that in mind, cast ahead of the pool yet let the fly run that seam or just inside it. The hope being those fish actively feeding will go for it.

Another thought is to consider what happens at the tail of that pool. Often you'll find the current reverses itself in a slow whirlpool of sorts back up toward the head or mid-point of the pool. So there have been times when it has served me to cast to the tail of the pool and let the fly drift back up into it making sure to mend quickly into the same area so the fly doesn't get dragged away. It's sometimes a good place if accurate enough to catch the edge to try out a pile cast or the like.

Point being is to get the fly to linger in the pool moving naturally....Things like streamers/wet flies it's okay to let pull through quicker. Yet nymphs and dries need that bit of quiet time to look right imo........and sometimes it means sneaking up far enough ahead of that pool so that when you cast you can feed out line and give it time to drift into it.

B.E.F.
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Old 03-29-2015, 05:54 AM
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Default Re: any tips on fishing slow pools?

The slower the pool the tougher the presentation becomes. My dry fly advice is use a long enough leader with smallest tippet you can reasonably get away with. Some pools are so slow they are almost "stagnant".....one trick I sometimes use is slight jiggling/twitching of my rod tip to impart a little "action" - but don't over do it - over time and practice you'll find what is right for you based on your success ratio. I'm not only talking about caddis imitations which can skitter around like crazy.....mayflies don't always just sit perfectly still as they drift downstream...they'll twitch around as they wait for their wings to dry.
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Old 03-29-2015, 07:14 AM
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Default Re: any tips on fishing slow pools?

Remember the time worn phrase, "Match the hatch" What is the most important thing about matching the hatch? First the size, second the silhouette, third the color.

Next, are they taking off the surface or just below? Tell tale bubble tells it's a surface take as does a 'slash' rise. A bulge tells it's taking a nymph.

If you've matched the hatch, are the fish still rising around your fly? If they are, it's probably a drift problem, DRAG. If your steak moved on your plate, would you eat it? Try a longer, finer leader, make sure that the fly is moving in the same direction and speed as the surface flow. This may mean learning to do curve casts, pile casts or S casts.

If they aren't rising around your fly, your presentation is probably putting them down.

Just a few things to think about.

Jack
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Old 03-29-2015, 07:20 AM
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Default Re: any tips on fishing slow pools?

as usual, lots of great replies here. I havent tried partridge and orange, but i have tried soft hackled bwo nymphs, including some with hot spots. ill tie some of these and try them out. ive used small woolys, but not leeches. thanks for the suggestions. Silver Creek has some neat looking fly suggestions too. ill be looking into them too.

grtlksmarlin and walter1023,
thanks for all that info. maybe this is where i need to focus first. i use a long leader in the rivers and larger streams of northeast TN and southwest VA, often 10 feet or a little more. i try dries first, either matching a hatch if there are bugs on, or a cripple/spent dry if not. i can get those out quietly upstream in the current and get them down where i want them without commotion. if they dont catch, ill next try tightline nymphing so i can get them down to the different heights in the column with more accuracy and less interference from other currents. i can cover water up to 15 around me this way, sometimes cover the whole pool. if the pool is too large to tightline, ill throw on a thingamabobber, though that requires alot of mending. i don't mend as much as i should, because im worried about the noise and commotion line control could cause, and ive avoided using longer casts on a suspension method because of that. i try to do all my work from the bank or ill creep out painfully slowly into the edge of the water; i dont go out into the pool much. ill also get into the riffles above a pool and just let my line out into the current to be carried into the top of the pool. ive gotten takes this way. this works around trees fallen into the water too.

im usually alright in pools if there is a shelf or a deeper channel. suspension nymphing works here for me well. its just these flat, featureless pools where i can see fish podded up in the deep bottom i cant seem to get at.

thanks for all the great info, guys.

jim
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Old 03-29-2015, 07:58 AM
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Default Re: any tips on fishing slow pools?

Hi Jim:
When I fish really tough slow pools (ie: Upper WB Delaware) my leader is usually 16 to 18 feet long.....tapered down to 6x fluoro (the rest is Mono) I also sometimes degrease my tippet so it sinks under the water (using loon snake river mud). Many people have different lengths in mind when they say "long leader" - a lot of guys think 12 feet is a long leader. I was very interested when I read Rene Harrop's book "Learning from the Water." a great book. He actually has a chapter titled THE LONG LEADER and he even talks about fishing a leader as long as 22 feet. The one thing to remember is a leader is only as good as you can cast it.....you're much better off using a 12 foot leader you can cast accurately than a 16 foot leader you can't. Another favorite book of mine Fly Fishing the Upper Delaware by Paul Weamer also has his recommendation that you should use as long a leader as you can properly cast. The best thing is to experiment The subject of leaders has numerous lengthy forum posts and rightfully so...its probably one of the most important subjects.
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Old 03-29-2015, 08:19 AM
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Default Re: any tips on fishing slow pools?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimalexander View Post
....in the rivers and larger streams of northeast TN and southwest VA....
That's where I had my first experiences trying my hand at fly fishing in the late 60's-early 70's from Pulaski, Va. to Greeneville, Tn., and actually this late Spring hope to fish that general area one last time.

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Old 03-29-2015, 08:48 AM
 
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Default Re: any tips on fishing slow pools?

A difficult aspect of fishing slow pools is reading the water. If you can't locate the fish, you can't catch them.

Fish need overhead cover from predators. Slow water means that there are no riffles to hide their shape or movement from overhead predators. So there are two main ways they can hide. Depth and vegetation.

Depth has 2 of the 3 requirement of a prime lie (protection from current, protection from predators, and food). However, depth itself provides very little current to bring food. So depth alone does not produce a prime lie.

There is one location in a pool where food enters and that is at the head of a pool. Some pools have a ledge at the entrance and this is a prime lie. The water entering the pool is narrower or shallower and there are usually riffles. So the area at the head of pool that is deep enough or turbulent enough to provide overhead cover is a prime lie.

The second area where protection from current, overhead cover, and food are available is at the where bank vegetation overhangs the bank. The cover can be long grass or tree branches. The vegetation provides food. Think terrestrials and recent hatches.

Ants and beetles are the flies that I use most often, not only in pools but in runs where vegetation overhangs the river. I have a favorite section of trout stream (below) that has a "hatch" of size 18 green beetles.

Click the image to open in full size.

Heavy hatches of clumsy insects like stoneflies is another opportunity to fish the banks of a pool. Stoneflies do not generally hatch in pools. They live and hatch in fast stretches with a rocky bottom. But after they hatch, they fly off and settle on stream side vegetation. They are clumsy insects and fall from the overhanging vegetation to the water below. So if there are stoneflies or other clumsy insects hatching in sections above or below the pool, try fishing them under overhanging vegetation.

When it is windy, fish the side of the pools that the wind is coming from. That is the side from which the insects will be blown into the pools.

So fish the head of the pool and the sides with overhead cover. Those are the locations in a pool that are the prime lies.
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