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  1. #1

    Default Stream tactic question

    So I was fishing this river on Saturday and came up to a half Moon shape of rocks that created a series of slack water areas. I was fishing a streamer and wanted to know if you would have fished down from the up stream or fish up from the down stream.

    In the picture, the orange is the rocks, the blue is the water flow, and the green are the area's I was trying to fish to.

    Also, if you would have fished them with other flies beside a streamer feel free to voice your option on that also.

    I've been fly fishing less than a year, so I feel like after action reports like this help me to try to understand the water a little better.

    Thanks in advance,

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

  2. #2

    Default Re: Stream tactic question

    I am far from an expert (fishing mostly in ponds but planning to get more into stream fishing) but I would guess that the fish are behind those rocks (downstream), staying out of the strongest current and looking for food coming down the conveyor belt, darting out to grab something and then getting back to shelter. So I would stand downstream and cast just upstream of the rocks. I would start out with a woolly bugger, my go-to. In the summer, maybe a grasshopper or ant or spider. I have not yet learned enough to "match the hatch."

    I look forward to more expert replies (at which I may respond, "Oh, so that is why I rarely catch anything...").

  3. Likes Anthoni814 liked this post
  4. #3

    Default Re: Stream tactic question

    Here's my observations in flowing water:
    Fish position themselves, as GP said, facing the current. If they're tight against the rock, they might actually be facing downstream, since the eddy will be flowing "backwards" into the rock. I've seen this a few times.
    Since more food items will be washing around the rocks and flowing downstream (rather than getting caught in the eddy), the fish tend to position themselves near the edge of the rock where there is still some downstream flow. They also position farther from the rock in slightly deeper water, again, to be in the flow, rather than sitting IN slack water.
    So, any presentation that puts your "insect" fly in the flow NEAR the slack water is likely to produce more strikes than putting your fly IN the slack water.

    This current orientation even applies to the small bait fish the predators are looking for. They swim upstream, and RUN upstream when chased. So, "baitfish" flies can be held in the current or pulled upstream to mimic an upstream swimming motion.

    As with any fishing situation, there's more than one way to approach them.

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    quiet corner, ct

    Default Re: Stream tactic question

    When current hits a rock, a 'pillow" of slack water forms in front of the rock
    Trout hold in this pillow as it affords a bit of protection from above and yet they can see everything coming toward them.
    Directly behind the rock there's a slight area of slack, but there's no view of what's in the drift.

    The "Leisenring Lift" is a technique where the angler will swing their subsurface fly, usually a wet, into position and then cause it to rise in the water column like an emerging bug, by lifting the rod tip and ending the swing in the targeted area. (like in front of a rock )
    This tactic is a real attention grabber for the fish, and you don't necessarily have to use a wet fly, you could use a streamer or a a nymph as well.
    It's making a good presentation that's important
    The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements.” --- Horace Kephart

  7. #5

    Default Re: Stream tactic question

    I am going to remember those good tips.

    By the way, Orvis has some useful videos on the subject:

    How To Read Trout Fishing Waters -- Orvis

    Also, at least one person on this forum highly recommended a book about reading the water, but I can't recall the author.

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  9. #6

    Default Re: Stream tactic question

    I would approach an area like that from upstream. I would make downstream or across stream casts as I waded downstream past the area.

    In your picture I'm seeing the green areas as slack water below the rocks. I seldom find fish in those slack areas. If I was fishing that area I'd expect to find an aggressive fish on the upstream side of the red line and maybe several in the seams in between the green circles. The prime spot would be on the downstream edge of the slack water, right about where the letter "e" is. I would fish your streamer through there, but I would definitely consider dead drifting a nymph through the seams and current areas below the rocks.

  10. Thanks Anthoni814 thanked for this post
  11. #7

    Default Re: Stream tactic question

    Thanks everyone. I should also say this body of water is about knee to thigh deep at most, and it is ideal at bout 200-400 cfs. This it was about 580. It was a little quick, so I was worried about smaller nymphs. That's why I went with a streamer. I was hoping it would be more visible.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

  12. #8

    Default Re: Stream tactic question

    Quote Originally Posted by Rip Tide View Post
    When current hits a rock, a 'pillow" of slack water forms in front of the rock
    Trout hold in this pillow as it affords a bit of protection from above and yet they can see everything coming toward them.
    Directly behind the rock there's a slight area of slack, but there's no view of what's in the drift.

    I agree with Rip Tide. The largest fish will take the best position. If the boulders are large enough, this is IN FRONT of the boulder. Otherwise it will be to one side or the other of the boulder, just inside the cone of hydraulic cushion of the water coming around the boulder. This is an ambush position that allows the predator to take a baitfish crossing from one side to the other.

    In the case of your photo, with rocks in orange, you are trying to fish BEHIND the rocks. If the rocks are large enough, I would fish the area IN FRONT of the rocks.

    A lot of fly fishers know how to mend line when fishing dries and nymphs but do not realize that mending line is also important when mending streamers. I wrote a FAQ for Flyfish@ back in 1996 about mending streamers.

    In the FAQ I describe a technique that will swing a streamer across the front of the boulders and present a side view of the streamer. I am quoting myself below.

    ”The first concept to understand is that there are several and sometimes conflicting things that we are trying to do with streamer mending. Most of the early books I read concentrated on only one technique and that was to fish a streamer so as to present it's silhouette broadside to the fish. They said to cast down or down and across and to mend the line downstream so as to make the fly line and streamer swing across the current and present a side view of the streamer to the fish holding below. That was the only type of mending I did for many years when fishing streamers. Then I got to thinking. If I mend in this fashion I am limited in the depth at which my fly swims. I varied the depth of the fly by weighting the fly, adding split shot to the leader, or using a sinking line.

    Expand your thinking about mending. Is there a way to mend so as to make the fly sink? Yes. We must use the same mends as when we dry fly fish for a drag free float. With a dry fly, our goal is remove the tension of the leader from the fly. If we perform those mends with a streamer, we can allow the fly to sink to a prescribed level before we start to swim it across stream. Depending on the amount of the mend that we use, we can vary the level of the fly and fish the streamer at several different levels.

    I learned the above lesson while casting toward the stream bank one day. Instead of the usual shallow water which gradually deepens away from the shore, this bank dropped down into a deep pool. With the usual down and across cast and the downstream mend the fly landed next to the bank and quickly swam away toward the middle of the stream. I realized that I was presenting the fly too high in the water column, well out of the visual zone of the fish. So on the next cast I mended the line upstream on the faster water I had to cast over. This kept my wooly bugger *drag free* and sinking next to the bank. Then I stopped mending to allow the fly to swim down and across but at a deeper level and I was rewarded with a 16" smallmouth.

    This concept should not be foreign to most of you. If you nymph, you do it with every cast. Aren't you trying to get your nymph to sink and float drag free. To get deep, fish your streamers and wet flies in the same way.

    Here's a trick which uses the above technique plus a second mend to fish a difficult situation. We all know that in fast water, fish like to hold in depressions or next to boulders in the hydraulic cushion. Favorite spots for the purposes of this discussion are directly in front of the boulder or just to either side. What we want to do is to swim the fly sideways in front of the trout and at his level. We want it to look like a bait fish is trying to sneak around the boulder. Have you ever tried to do this in fast water? The usual down and across presentation zips by the boulder at mach speed, well above the level of the fish.

    Instead, try to get directly above the boulder if you can, or slightly to one side. Cast your fly upstream and either raise your rod to take in the slack if the cast was directly upstream, or do upstream mends if you casted slightly across and up. You want the fly to sink to the bottom. Lower the rod as the fly and line goes by or feed line into the drift as the line goes by. When you estimate that the fly is 4-5 feet above the fish, mend the line across the current, toward the boulder/depression. That will put a bow in the line which will make the fly swim across the stream in front of the fish. You can release some line into the drift to slow down the swimming of the fly, to keep it deeper, and to drift it more downstream toward the boulder. Conversely, take in some line to swim the fly faster, at a higher level, and to make it swing more upstream. If the fly still doesn't get to the bottom, then you have to add more weight or cast further upstream to allow more time for the fly to sink.

    The two things that we want to do with mends are to control the swim or action of the fly (speed it up or slow it down), and to control the level of the fly in the water column. To get the fly to sink we want to mend such that the *float* is drag free, and we want to feed line into the float if necessary. To swing or swim the fly we want to mend generally across the faster current so that it catches the line making the fly swing and we can also take in line from the drift. Thirdly, we can determine when the fly will swing by when we place the swing mend and we can determine the direction of the swing by the direction of the mend.

    Controlling the fly with wet fly mends is more difficult that with a dry fly because you can't always see the fly. You must get a *feel* for where the fly is and what it is doing. One way to do this is to practice in shallow water where you can see the fly and see what your mends do to the fly's drift and action. If you have rivers with very clear water, try practicing these mends with the fly drifting even deeper.

    I hope that above has been of some help.”

    You can also animate the streamer when you think it is in the “sweet spot”. Jigging the rod tip or making quick SHORT downstream mends while the fly is swinging will make the streamer dart and move.

    So the goal is to:

    1. Get the streamer DOWN to the level of the fish.
    2. Present a SIDEWAY view of the streamer.
    3. ANIMATE the streamer or give the appearance ogfan injured baitfish.


    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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  14. #9

    Default Re: Stream tactic question

    If you are worried about smaller nymphs get some with a tungsten bead and additional weight of (non)lead wraps. If that still isn't enough add some split shot or mold-able tungsten putty 16-20" above the fly. Focus on getting a good drift through the zone.
    Q: How many turns on a whip finish? A: "Enough to cover your mistakes" - AK Best

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  16. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Portland and Maupin, Oregon

    Default Re: Stream tactic question

    I would watch the water for awhile before fishing looking for a rise or insects that may be hatching. If I saw a fish eat a bug, I'd try to match the insect and serve it to the fish on a down stream presentation, if possible. If not I'd cast above the fish from the side, or make an upstream delivery. If no bugs or fish were observed then I'd cover the water with a dry searching pattern. That pattern would be selected based on the expected hatches during the time of year. If this did not produce an eat the I'd change flies to a terrestrial, like a beetle or ant. If still no results I'd move on to the next good looking piece of water, all the while keeping an eye out for a rise or a bug. Fish will often rise to a dry in the absence of a hatch. Don't call me a purist, dry flies are just the way I like it...
    Keep 'em wet!

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