Fly Fishing

fat 20 inch rainbow trout

Nice Rainbow Trout from Lower Provo River (tail-water) in Utah

A tail-water river has controlled flow below the dam runs more consistently than a natural stream, less influenced by snow run-off, storm floods, hot weather or drought.

This type of stream with clear cold flow grows enough food to support a large population of trout.

The Provo River is an example. Anglers there often use nymphs fished deep below an indicator float.

This technique produces consistent results year-round. Beginners don’t need much experience with this method. Nine foot fly rods with a floating #5 line work well. To get the flies deep enough, use split shot on the end of the leader with one fly about 18inches above the weights and another up 18inches more. A floating indicator goes on the leader at a distance from the weights of about 1 and ½ times the depth of the water.

Lob the rig upstream (don’t use classic dry fly casting because it’s dangerous with the weights and the rig will tangle).

Drift the flies naturally through deep runs. If flies near the bottom move too fast, trout don’t take them. Since water at the surface travels faster that the depths , use just the enough weight to slow the drifting float by lightly dragging bottom. As needed you should “mend” (flip a loop of line up stream) to help the rig to move naturally. When the indicator float hesitates or goes under, the sinkers either are hung on the bottom or a trout took the fly.

Strike first and figure it out later. Experience proves that beginners don’t notice the majority of takes; even experts miss a lot. Better to quickly pull than miss a trout that gave you an opportunity. If you don’t connect it’s OK. Reacting quickly avoids some snagging and that helps save weights and flies that could have been lost.
Our Recommended Fly Rod Combos for Beginners and Young Anglers.

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Some anglers prefer to use dry flies only. Best results come by casting to rising trout. Randomly working the water in the larger streams usually proves less effective. When you see a trout come up, carefully approach before casting. It’s different when fishing little brushy streams, trout there feed on a variety of insects that happen to fall in.

There the important factor isn’t finding trout or the right fly; it’s approaching and presenting a fly without spooking the trout.

Fly Fishing for Trout in Lakes

In small high mountain lakes, trout often take flies better than bait, especially when they are feeding on the surface. Casting far enough is important, standard fly casting techniques will work if you can reach the fish. That usually means long casts and often the fish are out of range, unless you can get closer in a boat or other floating device.

An alternative method that works is to use spinning tackle with a clear plastic water bubble. To fish on the surface, rig with a clear bubble ¾ full of water put on the line sliding free, but stopped by a size 7 swivel on the end. Add about 3 feet of leader material to the swivel (4# test mono-filament) and a tie on a small fly. Cast beyond the rising trout and retrieve slowly. Watch the water behind the bubble; pull quickly to hook the trout when you see sudden motion, don’t wait to feel it.

When trout aren’t coming to the surface, fish deep with a nymph or woolly bugger. Do this with a similar rig but with bubble completely full of water so that it sinks. Cast way out and let the rig sink down, then retrieve slowly with occasional pulls. Trout usually take the fly softly; keep the line just tight enough to feel hits and pull quickly when something feels different. Don’t be discouraged by missed strikes; it’s better to strike often and miss than fail to react to soft takes. Play trout carefully with the reel drag adjusted so fish can take line when they run hard. A too tight drag setting may let trout break the line but let lightly hooked ones pull free.

Fly fishing Small Mountain Streams

In some ways little streams are easier to fish than rivers but not always. Meadow streams at higher elevations are sort of friendly; the better ones have grassy banks and few overhanging trees or bushes. Little head-water creeks usually have lots of small hungry trout. Fish upstream carefully, staying low to avoid frightening the fish. Trout there live in the bigger pools and places where the bank is undercut. Cast the fly upstream to where current is bringing food. Stealthy approach is the key, don’t let the fish see you or they will hurry away and hide.

Fly Fishing a Tail-water Stream with Small Nymphs

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