How To Fish Stillwaters
May 2nd, 2005

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

Hang and Bob

By Gary LaFontaine

The Hang-and-Bob matches up well with the Floss Blow Line. Neither method works without wind, but the Floss Blow Line is better in heavy wind and the Hang-and-Bob is better in light wind. The Blow Line, touching a fly repeatedly on the surface, is effective when trout are already feeding on adult insects. The Hang-and-Bob, a subsurface technique, is deadly when trout feed at a specific depth.

The Hang-and-Bob is a variation of the Right-Angle nymphing method used on streams. In Right-Angle nymphing a tuft of yarn, a bushy strike indicator, is tied at the end of the leader with an improved clinch knot. Another piece of monofilament, as short as six inches or as long as eight feet, is tied on right above the yarn indicator with an improved clinch knot. The yarn bobs along on top of the water and the piece of monofilament goes straight down into the water at a right angle and presents the fly to the fish. The big advantage of the method comes on the strike there is no bend in the leader as it goes into the water to dampen the strike. When a fish sucks in the fly, the yarn is pulled straight down.

Our group wondered how the right-angle would work on lakes. Ron Ruddig was the first to try and he caught trout on Rainbow Lake. Bernie Samuelson had a fine morning with the hang-and-bob on Georgetown Lake. Andy Stahl became the biggest advocate for the Hang-and-Bob after a spectacular evening on the Hog Hole.

My first chance to try the method on a lake came at Clark Canyon Reservoir near Dillon. I paddled my kick boat to the mouth of the Red Rock River and set up with a breeze at my back. I cast straight downwind and settled in for some "bobber" fishing. I thought that this would be relaxing fishing, with the occasional trout, but the action was so steady that I had no chance to relax. Other fly fishermen on the water came over to look at the fly, but my success was from the method not the pattern. Everyone else retrieved nymphs, wet flies, or streamers, and no one was catching a lot of fish.

The Hang-and-Bob is bobber fishing with a fly rod:

  • My preference is a light, soft action rod (8 foot, 9 inch for a 3-weight, weight-forward line) that protects the leader tippet on the strike.

  • Tie on the main, six-foot, 4X leader and put a bushy piece of yarn at the end of this section; then tie a piece of 5X leader material above the yarn indicator.

  • Use a nymph, wet fly or streamer pattern that is weighted toward the eye, so that with every up-and-down movement the imitation acts like a mini-jig. Bead-head patterns are ideal for this technique.

  • Experiment with the depth of the fly, shortening or lengthening the right angle section of monofilament.

  • Position yourself with the wind at your back.

  • Cast downwind and let the "current" pull all of the slack out of the line.

  • Keep the rod tip low to the water and watch the yarn indicator.

  • When the yarn indicator goes down (it disappears quickly with a take), set the hook immediately.

The Hang-and-Bob works best in a light breeze. The yarn indicator rides the wavelets, bobbing up and down, and underwater the fly dances slowly up and down, too. The fly doesn't leave the area. It just keeps moving, a target that eventually teases even reluctant fish into striking. It's critical to not retrieve the fly. Any manipulation pulls the fly out of the area and ruins the effect.

The major challenge with this method is finding the right depth for the fly. Any imitation works best when it is moving at the eye level of the trout. My favorite variation with the Hang-and-Bob is to put two flies on the right-angle section of leader spaced about three feet apart. The distance between the patterns allows me to test two depths. ~ GL

To be continued, next time: Multiple Roll Cast

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