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  1. #1

    Default Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique


    As some of you know I fish the Truckee River, which is a fast freestone river with flows that can range from a couple hundred SCFM to 6 or 700 scfm.

    When the river is in its slow periods in the summer and the hatches are going off dry flies or tandem rigs of dries and emergers seem to be the flies to use. right now, the river is flowing at around 400 scfm right now, and fishing seams and slow water with small nymphs under an indicator and swinging streamers is what the folks at the Reno fly shop are saying is best.

    Now, I took last week off work cause my son was in town, and got to fish 4 times over the last week or so. I hit fish on two of the 4 days, one on a dry and one on a copper john. Yesterday, fishing the same spot I hooked up on a couple days ago with a copper john, I had no hits on a copper john, no hits on a GRHE, and no hits on Joni's wet fly pattern (black bead head and hot pink floss with a brown soft hackle). nada, no interest 2 hours of fishing seams and nothing.

    I changed, sizes, indicator depth, made sure I was ticking the bottom, moved up and down about 100 yards of river, but no dice. Weather was fine, started out at around 40 degress and was about 55 when I quit no wind, nice and sunny.

    So, here is the question, when you folks find yourselves in this type of situation,

    what is your "go to" fly (Nymph? or Streamer? or Dry?) for situations like this and what is your "go to" technique for finding fish when nothing seems to be working?

    Thanks for any help, advice, etc you might be willing to add to this thread.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique

    When you get that one figured out, let me know

    I was up on the Little Truckee twice last week and no one was doing any good. The river was up and the temp. was right on 40. Still good to be back on some high country water.

    We did see a good hatch of winter stone flies around mid day so I made my best attempt at a reasonable copy.
    Hopefully get back up there this week and give it a try.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    South Texas

    Default Re: Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique

    Your idea to get enough weight on there to be ticking the bottom was the right idea, but it sounds like the water may have been fast enough to where another strategy is in order.

    When the water is moving that fast, you will need to fish different spots, where the fish would be more protected from the current. You'll need to seek out eddies, side currents, and such, where you normally wouldn't fish.

    On the other hand, if the water is so dirty from turbulence that the fish cant see flies coming by, you'll need to fish a big streamer that they'll be able to feel, or throw something stinky on a spin rod.

    I'd rather hunt fish than bait deer any day.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique

    Thanks for the info Cliff, and flydog - I still don't have it figured out....

    I Went out again yesterday after work, ticking the bottom, fishing the slow seams, in the dead water next to the banks, and again got no action - nada, not even a hit. Water was murky and up a bit due to rain in the mountains. neither I or my buddy did any good, but I did get to work on my roll cast a bit and worked with him a bit on presentation and mending.

    When I got home last night, I watched a taped version of the "new fly fisher" and they talked a bit about using very "flashy" flies when the river is running high and dirty for steelheads, so got me thinking, maybe part of the issue is the clarity of the water. I also saw where one of the guys on youtube had said to use "the big uglies" when the water is cold, fast and not clear.

    So, I thought I would ask you all if when the river is high and dirty do you tie on flashier flies (nymphs and buggers) or do you stay with the standards copper johns, GRHEs, etc.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Metuchen, N.J.

    Default Re: Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique

    When the water is high, fast & off color I like to try a dark color or Black Wooly bugger & fish it slow with enough weight to keep it near the bottom. If that don't work,I'll start changing the casting angle(angle the cast further up river to allow it more time to sink). I get a lot of the hits on the swing or just letting it hang downstream, so I spot myself according to where I want the fly to go. I like to move around to share the river so if I'm not catching in one spot I'll cross, move downstream or whatever. I try to fish, seams, holes, rocks top & bottom of pools.
    It just seem that when in fast water I do better on the larger flys but I will try smaller stuff but unless I see some activity on the surface., I'll stay subsurface.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique

    I love to fish fast water, it's where I spend most of my time when trout fishing. I found you are best off to fish a fly that is very impressionistic. You want something that looks a little bit like everything. In the faster water, the fish isn't going to get a good look at your fly, it's only going to get a passing glance. Let the fish figure out what it thinks it might be. The fish only has a split second to make a take or pass decision.

    Unless there is a heavy blanket hatch on, I only fish one of two flies. One is a bushy dry and the other is a 2XL bushy bead head nymph. I have enough confidence in my flies, if I'm not catching fish, I don't change flies, I change my presentation. If I've been fishing dead drift, I'll skate the fly on top, or swing it as a damp fly. Swing it fast, swing it slow. Same with the nymph, sometimes dead drift, sometimes actively manipulated. I fish dry and or damp 80% of the time, usually in knee deep or slightly deeper riffles.

    Granted I fish a river that has a very diverse fauna. I don't think the fish in my home waters selectively feed very often, more often they are opportunistic.

    Give it a shot.

    The more you know, the less you need.

    Tenkara Fly Fishing

    Tenkara Fly Fishing Blog

    "People tend to get the politicians and the fishing tackle they deserve" - John Gierach, Fishing Bamboo

  7. #7

    Default Re: Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique

    Thanks fish and pszy,

    I like the fast water also, but it can be frustrating. I have been fishing copperjohns and GRHEs but debating with flashy flies or dark woolies when the water gets muddy. The show on TV got me thinking about trying some flashier flies like the crystal meth I saw in mcflys post the other day. We don't have steeleheads, but we do have some decent sized bows and browns.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Monroe, Michigan

    Default Re: Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique

    Web, tye up some egg patterns...You may be very surprised...


  9. #9

    Default Re: Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique

    I'm not sure how long you've been fishing the Truckee but it can be a VERY fickle river. Even the best of fly guys get skunked quite often. Flow level and clarity have a lot to do with why you weren't getting into fish. They really hunker down when their habitat changes. As far as the recommendations of flies to use, I know a couple of guys there will tell you to use whatever fly they want to sell that day not necessarily what is working. Since Andy and Arlo left there I haven't been there that much due to a couple of jerks that are still there. My suggestion is just keep throwing everything you can at them until you find something that will work and move around a lot.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Fast Rivers and "Go To" flies and technique

    Ditto's on figuring it out...

    The last two years I have started using doubles and I believe situations like you write are reduced.. Bad day's are still there...

    One day two of us fished 2 hours nothing on a 400CFM day on the Merimec here in Mo. My partner finally added additional weight and boom he caught. I did the same instead of 1 bb I put 2 on. What I thought was bottom I guess wasn't close

    The two fly patter that is working more now than I care to admit is a heavy beadhead GloBall with Flashback Hairs ear..

    Also If I go streamers, like a WoollyBugger, I will put a flashy attractor about 10" behind it. This combo works well. The best for me currently is a Green Beadhead WollyBugger and a chartrues #12 Crackleback.. This one is deadly.. Another friend ties a custom built chartrues wolly with a crackle

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