How To Fish Stillwaters

February 16th, 2004

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher

Float Tube Magic
Float Tube Fly Fishing Strategies

By Patricia C. Pothier

Gathering Information

Before lauching your tube, you can save yourself time and increase your effectiveness by obtaining the following information from fishermen at the lake or near-by fly fishing shop:

    Depth of the lake

    Location of inlet and outlet streams

    If there are underground springs or channels

    Specific points, drop offs or weed beds that are productive for fishing

    Insect populations that are currently hatching

    Color, size and type artificial flies that fish are taking

    Kind of line retrieve that is working best

    Depth fish are taking flies

    When there is more likely to be an insect emergence/hatch

If you are able to obtain this information, you will be ready to start fishing; however, lacking these resources, you can find out by using the techniques described in this chapter.

If you ask when you should go fishing, you might get numerous semi-scientific answers to this questions such as: the moon phase; certain kinds of weather; the next insect hatching cycle; or whether cows are lying down or standing. But, the answer I like best comes from an accomplished and dedicated fly fisher. My friend, Pat O'Neall says, "The best time to go fishing is when you have the time." And, she might add, "Any other activity just keeps you away from fishing." More seriously, you will find clues as to the more productive times to fish throughout this book, but if you just like to be out on the lake whether you catch fish or not, you might follow Pat's advice.

Choosing A Line And Leader

If you don't know much about the lake or where the fish are, you will need to rig your line and leader for a searching expedition. A slow sinking line can be used to start your search, but you should also have in your tube pocket extra reels and spools rigged with an intermediate and a fast sinking line so that you can more efficiently go to either shallower or deeper water. Your choice of strength of straight leader (all one size) depends on: the clarity of the water; the presence of underwater obstruction, such as weeds and brush; the size of your fly; and the size of the fish that you are expecting to catch in this particular lake. If the water is murky and there are many weeds, your selected fly should be relatively large, you would choose a stronger leader (8, 10, 12 lb). For bright, calm days with clear unobstructed water, it is better to use a lighter leader size (4-6 lb.) since it is less likely to frighten fish. If you find that large fish break off this leader, then you need to use a stronger one. In this situation, the no-knot eyelet or braided loop facilitates the easy change of leaders. When fishing in shallows and water down to 10 feet with a sinking line, you can use a 9-12 foot length leader. However, if you are fishing in depths below 10 feet the leader should be shorter (6-9 feet) so that the leader does not drift upward thus carrying the fly above the depth you choose to fish.

Choosing An Artificial Fly

Clues as to the kind of artificial fly to use can be found on the shoreline or in the air. Look under rocks and on weeds for nymphs (immature insect state) and crustaceans (shell covered arthropod) and shucks (outer covering of an immature insect) of recently hatched mature insects and in the air or reeds for adult insects, such as damselflies, mayflies or caddisflies, which have already emerged from the water's surface. If you see birds or adult dragon flies feeding in the shallows this might indicate the presence of nymphs or minnows. If you are still not sure what fly will work, you can use a searching or attractor fly such as: Olive, Black or Brown Woolly Worm or Woolly Bugger; Prince Nymph; Zug Bug; Hare's Ear; Marabou or Canadian Leech. A good mid-size pattern of artificial fly to search with is a number ten or twelve. Use larger artificial flies in the spring and reduce the size as the season progresses because as a rule the insects that hatch in the spring are the largest while the subsequent generations become smaller. ~ PCP

Continued next time.

Credits: Excerpt from Float Tube Magic By Patricia C. Potheir, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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