Getting it Out There

here’s a little article i wrote for my friend Andy Baird and his great blogs ‘On The Burn’ and ‘Small Fly Funk’

it’s a first of a series of articles about fishing the little streams.

Getting it out There

part 1- The Approach

probably the biggest reason that holds back many fly anglers from fishing these little streams is the lack of ‘normal’ casting space.

basically, what we have are obstacles all around us in one way or an other, and if we want to present our fly correctly without getting it tangled or stuck into something at every cast, it will be a matter of adapting and using the available space that we do have.

here, i’ll try to point out a few casting techniques on getting the fly out there to the fish but also suggestions on small waters equipment and approach tactics that might help bring back the fun factor in these situations.

if you are used to fishing in wide-open spaces the first thing to do is to adopt a different mental approach and analysis to each situation.

fish in these streams rarely move around much and prefer to keep to areas that funnel food towards them and where they also feel safe.

this means we have a lot of time to decide on the best possible strategy to use in that particular situation.

in these situations the first decision i take is to decide exactly where i think a good fly presentation will be possible from without being noticed by the fish.


the actual cast needed will be decided once the actual fishing position is reached as the perspectives from where i first saw the fish and the one where the cast will be made may differ greatly. this is where having a good repertoire of casts comes handy.

will i be able to cast without lining the fish ?

do i need to cast over the shoulder or deliver on the back-cast ?

there’s a rock between me and the fish. can i throw a curve mend around it ?

there’s different currents going on. can i deal with this without inducing unwanted drag ?

those are just a few of the many possibilities that will come up in a day’s fishing. i find that they come up at each cast.

i also find that that’s what makes this kind of fishing so much fun, challenging and rewarding.

stealth in all its forms are very important in this close proximity activity.

camouflaged clothing is ideal. this is a stalk after all. outside of looking cool and being fashionably attractive… , camo clothing breaks up the human silhouette and enables to blend in better with the environing foliage. fishes are always on the look-out for predators and even if we put them back after having caught them, they don’t know this and consider us as deadly predators. we do need to move but the fish’s perception of our movements will not be as apparent compared to a ‘block’ of solid color. even if that block is of a subdued color. look into a wooded area and squint, you’ll notice that there are very few if any solid geometric blocks of one single color.

another great advantage to camo clothing is that it enables you to eat chocolate like a pig with no-one being the wiser !

rod flash is a big no-no and all of my rods have had a fine steel wool treatment. no need to dig in, just a gentle sanding of the top layer of varnish makes a big difference and does not affect its performance or durability in any way. watch an angler on a sunny day who hasn’t done this from a distance, all you’ll see is big streaks of flashing light. fish don’t like this at all and it’s one of the best ways to put them down.

as a side line, my Sage TCRs that had a shiny dried blood color now look like sanded wood. pretty cool !

some people believe that a flyline’s color is equally important and should also be subdued. i don’t, as i believe that the line should never be visible to the fish in the first place, whether its in the air or on the water. that can be tricky but i find it more important to know exactly where it is and what it is doing at all moments by being able to see it. aerial and on the water mends become pointless if you can’t see the line.

a ‘natural’ or darker colored line will blend in better with its surroundings in the air but will appear as a dark silhouette on the water’s surface when seen from the fish’s view and inversely for a lighter, more visible (to us) line. you chose. just as in fly selection, we usually don’t fish well if we don’t have entire confidence in the whole system.

we do need to move to be able to fish but these confined, close-up areas and those movements need to be as subtle and as slow as possible to not alert the fish. as noted earlier, this kind of fishing should be considered a stalk. vibrations that reach the fish emanate from walking on the bank or in the water. studded shoe soles can make scratching sounds underwater. hitting or making stones roll around while wading will have the same effect. talking loudly to a friend can be heard under water. rushing through the water causes ripples that propagate throughout the surface. as Roy Christie points out, an angler moving upstream should be going slow enough so that the ripples that are created don’t push up against the current. that’s pretty slow, specially in calm waters.

it’s always good to remember that senses under water are the same as the senses above water. specially when one considers that water propagates sound much easier than air and that the fish are in their own environment and that most animal’s senses are stronger than ours.

theses notions will of course apply to all water systems but the confined nature of tiny streams oblige us to be even more aware of all elements involved.

next time i’ll talk about specific equipment such as leaders, lines, rods and of course casting in these little streams.

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