Although us anglers always curse when it rains heavily, we do need precipitation to maintain the flow of our rivers. Without water, fishing becomes increasingly hard on freestone rivers, particularly if the sun is also shining! Here are Ceri Thomas’s river fly fishing tips for low water conditions.
At the time of writing, we are stricken by the driest April for many a year, the rivers are gin clear and rock hard. With that said, it is still possible to make some decent catches even when the river is on its bones. The following fly fishing tips should help you catch in low water conditions.
- Stealth. Common sense really, but often overlooked. Trout are wary creatures at best and with a river lacking in flow they are even more attuned to the presence of predators. A clumsy slip of the wader boot on a slimy rock will often spook a whole pool. So really take your time when approaching the water and if possible avoid unnecessary wading. fly fishing tips
- Walk the river. It really pays to go looking for fish when the going is tough. Walk the banks quietly and look for signs of fish rather than charge straight it. In low water the fish tend to be much more clustered together in refuse areas that offer extra cover. A tell tale rise or splash can give a tightly packed pod of fish away, saving you wasting time fishing empty water.
- Fish the faster water. In low flows, fast water offers fish cover and oxygen, as well as helping mask the sound and vibration emitted by the angler. It can pay to solely concentrate your efforts in rapids, pocket water and necks of pools when the river is on its bones. Such areas can be fished effectively with a french leader, a method very much suited to spooky fish.
- Minimise your false casting. I often see too many anglers making false casts that they simply don’t need to. Less false casts equal fewer shadows and line flash that will alert spooky low water trout. A short head weight forward fly line such as the Airflo Super Dri Xceed is designed for quick rod loading and will help reduce the need for false casting. Also try and make your false casts lower down, at a side angle where your cast will intrude less into the cone of the trout’s vision.
- Use a long leader and scale down. The lower the water the longer the leader! Don’t be afraid to fish a 20 foot leader length on a low river. The further away from your fly line the fly is, the better. A clear floating Airflo light trout poly leader combined with a supple, thin diameter co-polymer such as the superb Fulling Mill Xtra Copolymer allows you to achieve great turnover and subtle presentation at range.