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Stillwater Fly Fishing

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There’s a huge difference between Stillwater fly fishing and fishing in streams and rivers. The biggest difference is current. Flows in streams and rivers help to present the fly, move it naturally, and entice a strike….no such luck with Stillwater fishing.

The second biggest difference, with out that flow of water, fish are free to move about with far less effort. There common behavior of hiding places with softer current to preserve energy are not in play here. These are two big challenges to over come.

There are three methods commonly used to fish a lake or a pond. We can cast from shore, wade the shallows, on hit it with a boat. Personally, I favor my one person pontoon, but either method is productive.

When fishing still water, I use nothing less than a 9’ rod. You want to be able to get distance, from however you’re approaching the water. Rod weight depends on species. If I’m targeting panfish, I like my 3wt. For smallies, bass, and pike, I prefer a 6wt. For musky, stripers and catfish, I go no less than an 8wt.

Stillwater fishing requires a lot of blind casting. Fish will lie in underwater drop offs, rock beds, brush etc. that may not be readily visible to the angler. In turn, we tend to go subsurface. I will normally bring two rods with me. One rigged with floating line and a 12-15’ leader in most cases, and an intermediate sinking line.

The water depth will determine which set up I use. We are predominantly either stripping streamers….or on top with a popper. In deeper water, I’ll obviously go for the sinking line. In shallower water, I’ll go with the floating line. If I encounter some visible structure above water or some lily pads, I’ll switch things up and go with the popper.

Personally, I can manage a popper on n12’-15’ of leader. If you can do it great. If that’s tough for you, consider a tippet ring say at about 5’ in length on your leader. You can then switch out tippet length and fly according your casting ability and depth your trying to hit. If it’s surface fishing, you’ll only need a couple of feet. If you’re swimming a streamer, consider longer.

If you’re fishing turbid water for bass or pike, you really don’t need to downsize on your leader and tippet diameter. I’ll use 0X or 1X fluoro on my sinking line at about a 4’ to 5’ length. Fishing crystal clear alpine lakes for trout is a completely different story. You’re going to be playing with 6x and 7x here. Don’t worry about the size here, alpine fish are normally on the smaller size due to shorter growing period and lack of forage.

That’s it for now my fishy friends. Remember, we only have this one mother earth full of awe and wonder. Let’s take care of her. Pack it in, Pack it out.

Tight lines and screaming drags

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