Tips or Tactics for really stained water? (Stillwater)

Bam Boozelled

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Hey all, most of the water available to me on a regular is often very stained. Mostly high mountain lake pine tree surrounded, dirt, and rock bottom. Im just looking for any advice on trying to deal with these condition.

This fish was around 12-14in and it was around 9am clear day.
Underwater release Ashurst .jpg
 

SciFly96

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When the water is more stained I think the fish can see darker patterns better. I would also think that flies, especially streamers, that are made to move a little extra water might help fish key in on your fly. Streamers with spun deer hair heads, articulations, and flowing materials come to mind as ways to help your fly get a little more action and move water. Hopefully this will help the fish find the fly even if they can't see as well.
 

bigjim5589

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I agree with the previous suggestions. My most favorite bass lure for that type of water is a large, all black spinnerbait, that has the biggest, deep cup Colorado blades that will fit and a very full skirt. It does all of what was mentioned, plus extra vibration, and noise. All of these features aid it helping any fish find the offering.

That's not easy to get with a fly pattern, but most of these attributes can be attained. Dark color, large profile, pushes water, and materials that move, plus some flash can all be included in a streamer pattern.

I don't fish too often in "muddy" water with flies, but there certainly are times that it's stained. If you have the gear, start with a pattern that's at least as large as the available forage. I like dark color flash, copper, gold, bronze, and electric blue has been great, and nothing wrong with combining them. They also work very well in clear water.

If there's current, and some clearer water, look for the seam between the clear & stained. Often the fish will use that as an ambush point, and especially if there's something that blocks or diverts the current.

I've seen Striped Bass in tidal waters where there was some muddied water and clear and they would hide at the edge of the muddy water in daylight, just as they might use a shadow and lights at night, and dart out into the clearer water to attack prey.
 

Bam Boozelled

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Thanks for the advice, I tied up a few buggers in 8 and 10's like this to try. Maybe some thoughts on how you would go about fishing them I have very little experience with fishing streamers especially from shore in stillwater. I figure just section out the shore and let it sink with little strips?
 

silver creek

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Is there any special trick (or maybe fly) in stained water. Fished Nanty yesterday and had some luck with pink san juan. Couldnt get a bite on anything else and threw every fly I had. Does trout behavior change during this time. I felt I was groping in dark for a trout. Got to get away from sight fishing. Thanks for advice.
No special trick. Just think about the fundamental needs of the fish and apply your knowledge to see how stained or dirty water changes where the fish are and what they need to locate prey.

Stained water = Vision as a hunting weapon becomes less effective.

How can we deal with this?

Since we can't change the fact that fish can't see as far or as well, we can try to make the fly more visible. There are several ways to do this.

1. Use a a bigger fly
2. Use a darker fly (more easily seen)
3. Use motion
4. Put the fly closer to the fish

Another strategy is to use the other hunting mechanism of fish and that is their lateral line - the ability to feel vibrations. So use a fly that moves a lot of water when retrieved. Those would be streamer flies with a front collar.

The collared leech is one of Gary Borger's favorite streamer pattern. Here's a purple collared leech and a collared streamer that Gary tied. Tie them in dark colors and it will bring the fish to the fly in stained water.





Tying Instructions below:

Gary Borger >> Blog Archive >> The Collared Leech

Gary Borger >> The Bullhead Leech

Tie Talk: The Collared Leech | Field & Stream


Kelly Galloup wrote Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout. One of Kelly's Galloup's favorite flies is the Zoo Cougar. Here are some more of Kelly's Favorite Streamers. Notice how many of Kelly's favorite patterns have a front collar to attract fish with sound and also incorporate materials such as marabou to imitate life.

YouTube


The final way a fish locates food is by smell. This becomes more important in bait fishing and putting attractants onto spinning lures. As fly fishers, we don't do this so I mention for completeness and not as a strategy.

Stained water also means the fish will feel safer in shallower water because they don't need as much depth to remain hidden. So as a fisher you need to re-read the river, and fish sections that may not hold fish in clear water but do hold fish in stained water. Look for shallower areas that provide ambush positions closer to where the bait fish live.

Once you have located where fish will move to in stained water, you need to place your casts more accurately to get the fly closer to the holding lie of the fish.

If you analyze stained water from the perspective of the fish and what they need for safety and to locate prey, the solutions become easier to understand.

So re-read the water. Realize you need to get the flies closer to the fish so you need to both cast the fly more accurately and then manipulate it to get the fly to the fish. Use flies that are bigger and darker then use sound to attract the fish and motion to imitate life.
 

flav

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I've fished those little mountain lakes in AZ, they're very similar to some of the high desert reservoirs I fish in eastern Oregon. It's hard to believe fish can find your flies in water like that, but they do. I usually fish darker flies and go a little big. Your bugger should work just fine. I've never had an issue fishing from shore, the fish will usually be pretty shallow because of the colored water.
 

Bam Boozelled

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Well after the bite final came. What ended up working was a foam thingamabobber for a nice plop then a bigger nymph or something with legs or movement, with a midge/chironomid droppers. Throwing around any kind of flat water or around some of the dead bushes with a very slow retrieve letting it sit for 5-10 seconds then giving it a little twitch or micro strips. Managed a few fish and considered the day a win. Hopefully things clear up, the fishing is usually good here this time of year. It is remarkable that they are able to survive and hunt in these conditions, amazing creatures.

 
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