How To Fish Stillwaters
August 15th, 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

Matching Flies and Tactics to the Productivity of the Water

By Gary LaFontaine

The differences in fly selection and angling method between infertile and rich waters are controlled by two variables in trout foraging degree of selectivity and range of feeding movement. There is so much more food in rich aquatic environments that trout feed heavily on specific organisms in relatively small areas. In infertile lakes fish feed randomly on a variety of prey items over a wide territory.

In infertile waters the fly usually doesn't have to match the natural exactly. Simple competition for food makes the fish rush faster to take a real or fake item. The main exception might be midge activity, which can be concentrated enough even in mountain lakes to make trout fussy.

In rich waters the fly often has to match the food organism exactly. The triggering characteristic, the prominent feature trout search for to identify an item, has to be slightly exaggerated so fish notice the artificial before they notice the natural, and the secondary characteristics the ones trout look critically at when they get close have to be exactly like those of the real organism.

Just as important as fly choice in rich waters is fly placement. In an infertile lake a trout might swim ten or fifteen feet to snatch a fly, but in a productive environment a fish might not move a foot. On some of my home ponds the trout are so spoiled that a fly has to be within inches of the fish's mouth or it won't suck it in. And usually, the slower the fly is moving or better still not moving at all the greater the chance trout will take it. ~ GL

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