09/08/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives (See Below)
2.    Mahogany Duns
3.    Little Yellow Stoneflies - Summer Stones
4.    Slate Drakes
5.    Needle Stoneflies
6.    Little Yellow Quills
7.    Ants
8.    Inchworms
9.    Beetles
10.  Grasshoppers
11.  Hellgrammite
12.  Craneflies
13.  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)


Back To The Basics - Fishing Low Water - Part 2
When you are fishing low water, getting a good presentation becomes more difficult
in many respects. It's mainly due to the slower speed of the water. I'm not saying all
low water has slow current. I'm just saying with low water levels comes slower
moving water. As the levels go down, the flows decrease. The slower the water, the
better view the trout get of your terminal tackle, or fly, tippet and leader. In theory,
the trout shouldn't be able to see your fly line. That's the purpose of the leader. In
reality, they often do see it. Sometimes it isn't the line itself, it's the shadow from the
line. In general, you want to keep your fly line as invisible as you possible can. Oh
yes, I am aware of all the bright colors of fly lines on the market. I'm also aware of
the marketing skills of some of the companies the manufacturers hire to get anglers
to buy a new fly line. I'm getting off the subject some, but I do want to point out that
if you are using a bright colored fly line, you are at a disadvantage in many
situations. I have owned three very bright fly lines (different weights) because at the
time I wanted to highlight the fly lines during cast for video purposes. In doing so, I
discovered that it can be a big mistake when it cames to catching trout. Ninety-five
percent of the time it doesn't seem to make any difference. I just don't like having a
disadvantage. I have enough problems outsmarting the pea brain trout without
trying my best to spook them.

Continuing off the subject, I'll also mention that I am now experimenting with the
clear fly lines that were originally designed for saltwater. In fact, I held off on
proceeding with a new "Perfect Fly" fly line that we had plans to manufacturer in
order to test the clear lines on trout and other freshwater gamefish. So far, I like the
fly lines for saltwater fishing and if they work for saltwater any better than the
colored fly lines, they should work equally as well for freshwater. The problem is that
so far, I am doing like most anglers and making my judgements with far too little
data. Just changing lines and catching a few more fish than you think you normally
would have caught, isn't a viable reason to assume you have discovered something
better.

Back to low water conditions, I do think it helps to keep the leader and tippet as light
as possible. This seems like the natural thing to do for fishing low water but in
reality, it's the natural thing to do in any depth of clear water or at any stream level.
The level doesn't have anything to do with how well the trout can see the leader or
tippet, but you will hear and read that everywhere you look. That's good advice for
any water level. You want to always use the lightest leader and tippet you can get
away with. Being too light may cause you to loose some trout, but the question
becomes, would you of had the opportunity otherwise.

The same thing holds true about using longer tippets and leaders under low water
conditions. You will hear and read that all the time. Facts are, the water level
doesn't make any difference in that regard. The longer the leader and tippet, the
better off you are in any depth or water level provided you haven't compromised
something else. If you can't make as good of a presentation with the longer leader
and/or tippet, you are making a mistake using it.

Here's the thing that's missing from the above statements. With lower water levels
come slower stream flows. When the water is moving slower, the trout have a much
better opportunity to see the leader and/or tippet. You do want to use the lightest
ones you can get away with and by that, I mostly mean the lightest ones you can
present well. So it's again the speed of the water, not the depth that's the problem.
You don't necessarily need a 7X tippet but you are probably better off using a 6X
under these conditions.

The big factor is how well the fly is presented. Again, it isn't the low water conditions,
it's the speed that creates the problem. It's more difficult to fool trout in slower
moving water than it is fast moving water. If you're fishing dry flies, and your line
and/or leader lands on the surface of the water with a splash, it's far more
noticeable in slower moving water than it is in fast water. Conversely, getting a drag
free drift is actually easier in the slower moving water. You have more time for the
fly to drift and you have more time to correct the drift with a mend.

When it gets down to it, the best way to handle the low stream levels we have now in
the Smokies, is to use the lightest and longest leaders and tippets you can  
effectively present and make better presentations that you normally make.
Most
angler's problems in fishing low water comes from the presentation.
That's
the prime reason many anglers have problems with low water levels. I fish a lot of
smooth, slow flowing spring creeks and tailwaters. I get a lot of practice fishing water
much slower and clearer than we have in the Smokies. Anyone that does that will
find the low water conditions has little effect on the number of fish they catch.
To be
short and blunt, I'm saying the problem many anglers have with fishing low
stream levels is they are used to getting by with lousy presentations.
In fast
water, as long as you can get a few seconds of drag free drift, you can get away
with a lot of lousy presentations. The same anglers would have big problems fishing
the Railroad Ranch of the Henry's Fork of the Snake River, just for example.

To handle the low stream levels well, you must know how to make good slack line
cast. In this situation, most of my cast are reach cast. You also need to know how to
make good, accurate curve cast. In general, the slower the water is moving, the
longer distance you need to cast. Again, it's the smoothness and speed of the water
that makes this a big factor, not directly the stream level. If you are casting to a riffle
that has some broken current this is far less of a factor. If you're only fishing the
plunges, you shouldn't have any trouble. However, It's a fact that the number and
size of rough water areas are fewer and farther between under low water conditions.
Even in the riffles and runs, the water will be moving slower than it normally flows
and this means more time for the trout to notice a bad presentation or your normal
size leader and/or tippet.

It also means the more your fly looks and behaves like the things you are
attempting to imitate, the better off you are. The trout will have more time to
determine whether they accept the fly as the real deal or reject it. That's an easy
problem to solve. Just use Perfect Flies. They are far more imitative and realistic
than anything sold on the commercial market.

Copyright 2010 James Marsh