11/05/08

Fly Fishing Clear Pools

As I mentioned yesterday, the very first problem you face fishing pools during the
colder months is that the water is clearer than it is during the warmer months of the
year. This means that the trout can see you much easier than they normally could.
Another problem is that since they are sometimes holding in deeper water they can
see your movement much easier than they can when they are holding in shallow
water or near the surface in deep water. Their window of vision is much larger when
they are positioned in deep water. I have discussed this in previous articles.

When you are moving around the pool, the trout that are holding deep can easily
detect your movement. They cannot see you in detail or clearly, but they can detect
your movement. They usually spook and scare other trout in the pool. One wrong
move around a clear pool and you can spook every trout in the pool before you
even make a cast. This simply means that your approach to a pool should be made
very carefully and planned such that you can take advantage of cover.

Every pool is going to have its individual characteristics that varies the exact way
you approach it, but here are some things that you need to do that applies to just
about any pool.  

If you are fishing the normal 7 to 9 foot leader using anything larger than a 6X
tippet you may be off to a bad start. You should use a very long leader. - as long as
you can cast it and turn over the fly. I would say 12 foot would be about right with
either a 6X or 7X tippet. Yes, I know that is a very fragile leader/tippet.

If you are fishing in an upstream direction, naturally you should fish the shallow
water near the tail end of the pool first. Sometimes there is a long stretch of shallow
water and sometimes there isn't much at all. You should cast from well below the tail
end of the pool, keeping as low and as hidden as possible. Don't wade into the
pool. If you do, you can most likely forget fishing it. You will spook the trout in the
lower end and they will at least alert if not spook the trout in the rest of the pool.

After you make a very few cast in the lower end, move around to one of the banks
before proceeding along the pool. Most of the time, trout will be lined up in the
feeding lanes along the outside edges of the pool depending on the size of the
pool, the current, the depth of water and the structure within the pool. You want to
stay well back and make a very long upstream cast starting right near the edge of
the pool if there is any depth to the water along the edge. You may cast out into the
pool a few feet from the bank a time or two before proceeding upstream. Stay well
away from the pool when you move and stay behind anything possible to get
behind. If there is nothing to hide behind, you have a real problem.

Work the edges of the pool until your cast begin to reach near the head of the pool.
I fish the head of the pool two different way depending on the circumstances. If I
can stay hidden and make long cast without hanging the trees, I will continue to fish
upstream. Make your first cast near the bank you are on at the head of the pool
and proceed to cast towards the center of the head each cast you make. Trout will
sometimes line up near the head awaiting food that is being washed into the pool.

Doing what I described above may be next to impossible in many cases. You may
not be able to make long cast from the bank without being spotted by the trout.
Trees and bushes may prevent it. If you can't, move on. You are waisting time if
your start spooking trout.

The other way I fish the pool is in a downstream direction. If there is some current
coming into the pool and current in the pool, this usually works best. It does not
work very well under low water conditions. You need some current and normal
water conditions. It also works well in high water.

I will describe the downstream approach to pools tomorrow.

Copyright 2008 James Marsh