Stillwater fly fishing techniques are important. No water is essentially still. We refer to a water body as still when its water is not flowing from one place to another. Rivers and streams have flowing water while lakes and ponds have still water.
Stillwater bodies have areas where the probability of catching the fish is more. There may be coves or little islands around which the fish usually accumulate.
Spot the areas in the lakes where calm water meets water that is moving. If you come across a submerged fence, that’s where you’ll also come across abundant fish.
Specific flies and methods work for some areas because of the likes of the residing fish and the natural insect population.
If you notice numerous fish feeding on the water surface, know that this is the site of insect hatching. Focus on the best area you decide to fish at.
Remember that your fly depth will be affected by your retrieving speed. The fly will keep going down if your retrieval is slow and a fast retrieve will keep the fly on top of the surface.
Watch How the Fish Behave
Knowing and studying the behavior of the fish is the first technique you must practice to get successful at fly fishing.
To know the fish better, watch them. Attain thorough knowledge about their likes and dislikes by looking around. See what kind of food it is already feeding on and select your fly accordingly.
Experts recommend watching the frequency of the rise of fish heads on still water. The presence of bubbles on the water surface will indicate that fish like trout are actively feeding on flies below. While a splash without any rising bubbles would suggest the presence of emergers.
Your knowledge of the timings of the hatches in a particular lake could help you greatly in determining the right time to catch. Pay attention to the fly you have cast and remember to strike at the right moment.
Fly fishing is all about not letting the fish realize they are being caught. It is essential to know their behavior and act accordingly.
Dap a Dry Fly Like You Were Taught as a Kid
This is one of the simplest fly fishing techniques and that is why it is taught to children. Dapping works well when you stand away from the water and only use the leader through the rod tip to gently dap the fly on the water surface.
This technique may be very simple, but anglers always make a catch this way. This is mainly because the egg-laying flies naturally lay their eggs on the water in the same dapping motion.
It is recommended to use this technique when there is little space to throw a cast. Pat the fly on the surface of the water and watch the magic.
Don’t Just Stick to Making Long Casts
It indeed requires a lot of practice to be able to make long casts. However, long casts do not mean getting more fish.
In fact, throwing long casts seldom gets you any fish. This is because longer casts reduce the accuracy which is essential to fly fishing. The drag will be increased, a lot of fish will not be hooked, you’ll not be able to detect the strike, and there will be delays in taking.
Walking around and finding more accessible areas to fly fish will serve you better than throwing long casts around. Take a walk and study the currents around the stream.
Find the sections that seem more fishable than others and make sure you find a spot where you can easily observe the movement of the fish. Wade into the still waters and catch like a proper fly fisherman.
Keep Checking Your Fly and Tippet
You must keep a check on your tippet and your fly after every five casts. This becomes more important when the water body you are fishing in has strong blowing winds.
You must be aware of how knots can weaken the tippet. Make sure to look down and assure that no knots have formed that could block the tippet’s function.
Also, look if your tippet is away from your fly. Oftentimes, the tippet itself gets entangled with the fly. A knot around the bend of the hook could lead you to an unsuccessful retrieve when the fish bites.
Anglers often don’t pay attention to these little things when they are casting. Observe closely how the fish are reacting to your fly, whether they are biting or ignoring it.
If the fish seem disinterested in your fly, you may have to consider imitating the flies they are actively feeding at. Observe the natural flies in that area and modify one of your flies to become an imitation.
See If Your Leader Is the Right Length
9’ leaders are usually the standard for fly fishing in still water. Longer leaders enter your equipment as your technique improves and you get more confident. Anglers use leaders up to 20 feet in length at times.
It is easier to cast heavy flies with shorter leaders. It is important that anglers try different lengths of leaders and then determine what works best in their fishing spot.
Which Flies Work Well For Fly Fishing in the Lakes
Tried and Tested, Streamers Are the Best for Fly Fishing in Stillwater
Fly fishing with streamers is enjoyable and productive. Most big fish get enticed by their attractive wriggling motion and take a bite. Streamers work well both in flowing water and the lakes.
If you spot a rock or foundation in the lake, that is the best place to throw a streamer. Fish like trout usually reside around these structures and will actively leap at your wriggly imitation.
Unlike other flies, fish won’t get bored with streamers and so wouldn’t you. Streamers will work well even if you are a beginner and you have to throw and retrieve more times than normal. Large streamers go well with heavy fly rods while small streamers easily work with even light travel fly rods.
Nymphing May Be Tedious, But It Still Remains an Effective Stillwater Fishing Technique
Nymphing is boring, without a doubt. You have to sit and watch a bobber but you will eventually figure out where the fish is present. Although it requires more patience than most other still water fishing techniques, it is almost always successful.
You learn a lot about fly fishing when you apply this technique. You patiently study what the fish is feeding on and then imitate the bait to suit their need. Once your fly has been selected, and the rigs are set, you can throw more than one fly together and fly fish at your best.
Nymphing doesn’t even require heavy fishing equipment. You can work just as well with a light fly rod. You may require a longer leader but you cannot typically miss the slip float.
Fly Fish with Dry Flies and Deep Breaths
A successful catch relies on the manner of introduction of the dry fly. As soon as you spot an area where the fish are actively feeding, stop. You don’t have to start throwing your flies at them immediately. Wait and watch.
Look at what the fish are feeding upon. Observe how they are biting it and how often they are rising to the water top. Once you have ample information about their lunch, begin preparations for a throw. Wait for their next rise and then cast the fly close to the ripple their movement has created.
4 to 5 feet rods work the best for throwing dry flies and nymphs. You can extend your leader to some more extra feet in case the water surface is calm.
Take Notes on Striking in Stillwater
Proper striking is a must if you want to get the fish. Otherwise, you’ll just watch them nibbling at your fly and be done with their business. A fish will not hook itself on its own every time. Your definite striking motion is the only thing that will ensure you catch your target. Striking is not just about quickly pulling back the rod or snatching away at the water.
A Take That Is Seen Is Usually Used for Dry Fly Fishing
This type of take is always seen before it is felt. However, sometimes you might not see the take even when you feel it.
You’d usually spot the movement in the indicator, or your line will become tight. There may be a flash of fish underwater, even the loop at the end of your rod tip could straighten because of the fish bite.
The right method to execute a strike in case of a dry fly is by taking a slight pause and then striking. The fish will usually break the surface before it puts a dry fly into its mouth.
A strike without any pause will pull the fly out of the fish’s mouth. It is important to match the strike and the take spontaneously when you notice a fast action from the fish’s side.
A pulling method is applied when you see the fish putting the fly into its mouth. This is when you quickly pull back before it ejects the fly.
A Take That Is Felt Is Associated with Pulling Flies
This happens when you are pulling your fly towards you and the fish is trying to take the fly and swim away. Because both forces are in opposite directions, your ideal strike motion would begin as soon as you feel the fish activity.
The reason you do not see the fish biting at the fly could most certainly be your lack of attention. The striking that is felt must immediately be retrieved while keeping the rod low and tight.
Follow These Tips to Be a Pro at Stillwater Fly Fishing Techniques
- Countdown after casting: This is important so that your flies sink to a requisite depth before you pull back your rod on sensing a strike. You’ll be able to determine the depth at which the fish are more catchable. When you throw a cast again, count down to a bigger number, slowly, and you will accurately determine the depth at which you must cast.
- Throw fan casts: If you cast only in the area in front of you, you’ll reduce your probability of catching more fish. You’ll be covering only a narrow area of water when you could be spanning more. Experts recommend throwing many casts at the same time. This is done to cover the entire area of water in front of you. The fish will definitely bite at one of them and you’ll have more chances.
- Make sure there is adequate space between your flies: Whenever you are throwing several flies through one leader, there should be enough gap between all of them. The gap should be a minimum of five feet.
- Fish at a greater depth when the sun is shining bright: Fish cannot sustain direct sunlight. They move to greater depths when the sun shines directly and overhead. This is why it is important to throw your casts deeper as the heat gets hot.
- Focus on the tip of the fly line: After you throw your cast, ensure that the tip of your fly rod is facing downward and it is just above the surface of the water. Keeping your rod up in the air won’t let you feel the pull of the fish because only the slack will be pulled, and the fish bite won’t be able to move your fly rod. This is why it is essential to point your rod down and observe the line dangling at the tip closely. The line at the tip becomes your strike indicator and you can take it faster.
Fly fishing in still water is easy as compared to fly fishing in moving water. This is because it is relatively easier to present the flies naturally to the fish. Hop on your dirt truck and head on to your nearest still water lake. Nothing else is as exciting and meditative at the same time.
References and Further Reading
Last Updated on August 31, 2022 by Captain Chuck Dudley.