When I fish I always have my fly rod in a low position and follow the drift of the line with my rod tip. This allows me to have a very direct contact with my line to the fly so I can detect more strikes and set the hook solidly.
I carry my reel and a couple of extra spools so I can quickly change when necessary for different water levels and current flows.
Most all beginning fly fishing anglers start by using a float-ing line which is much easier to see and pick up off the water to recast. That is how I started 61 years ago and enjoyed it very much, not knowing at the time just how deadly sinking line fishing could be.
As a young teenager I read an article in one of the major fishing and hunting magazines, that stated very clearly, "If you want to catch more and bigger fish consistently, buy a sinking line, fish wet flies, nymphs or streamers and get a pair of polarized glasses." This valuable information made good sense to me so that’s just what I did. It completely changed my fishing forever. It is well known that trout feed 90% subsurface and 10% on top water. This has not changed and stays true to this day. Gladding made the first sinking line that I ever owned and at that time they were the leader in sinking line development. My favorite fly that I tied and fished with back then was a Woolly Worm and with the combination of a pair of polarized glasses and sinking line helped me advance my fly fishing skills. With the use of polarized glasses it gave me a big advantage over the fish being able to spot them in advance knowing they were there. I personally believe that anyone who fishes should always be wearin polarized glasses for eye protection and safety in wading.
Your approach to fishing rivers and lakes are quite different. The fear of fishing moving waters and then switching to still water has a lot of anglers nervous. The same applies if you are a lake fisherman switching to river fishing. When approaching any still water situation it is important to have your fly at the right depth, where fish are swimming and feeding. If the fish are not feeding on top then you need to get your fly to the correct depth to have action. This is done by fishing with a sinking tip, intermediate or full sinking line. If you carry with you a selection of the different types of lines to change out when necessary, this will greatly increase your catch rate. How you retrieve your fly is a very important part of your presentation. I have found the following retrieves to be the most productive when fishing any still waters.
- The hand twist retrieve which is slow and steady.
- Short strips that give the fly erratic action.
- Longer smooth strips with a short pause in be-tween.
- Fast steady strips may encourage violent takes. During the course of any given day on a lake your line selection, fly choice and retrieve can change. Be open to experimenting if your action slows down or stops.
When fishing big rivers, or smaller rivers that may have some color it would be helpful to know how to read the water and sense where the fish will be holding or traveling.
When fishing big rivers, or smaller rivers that may have some color it would be helpful to know how to read the water and sense where the fish will be holding or traveling. I prefer to fish clear waters but do not always have that luxury. When approaching a river you will find the head of a run, the middle section and then the tailout where the water shallows and picks up a little speed. There are seams where two currents run together and normally hold fish. The main current will be easily detected if there is foam on the surface of the water. If you are the first one to a stretch of water the tailout can be a very good place to start fishing because the fish are holding and resting in the softer waters and undisturbed.
The lower end of a run can also be good in the evenings and on a cloudy day. Water speed and depth will dictate what line to select to make the best presentation. Normally we fish our Teeny Mini-Tip line which has a 5-foot section of black fast sinking tip. The floating section is a bright yellow so you can track and control your line and drift. In deeper water I use our heavier sinking T-Series lines (https://www.jimteeny.com/T-Series_c_14.html) to drop down quickly into the strike zone. These have a 24-foot section of black fast sinking tip. If you are looking to cast a long distance then our TS-Series lines, which have a 30-foot head, would be a better choice. Normally I fish these lines with a 4-foot leader but have gone down to as short as 2 feet to get my fly deeper faster and up to 5 or 6 feet if I can see the fish and they are shying away from my line. I usually dead drift and let the fly swing naturally. I have also found that if you give the fly some action while drifting it can often trigger savage strikes.
When I fish I always have my fly rod in a low position and follow the drift of the line with my rod tip. This allows me to have a very direct contact with my line to the fly so I can detect more strikes and set the hook solidly. It will be easier to fish this style so your arm will not get tired from high sticking. Watch your line closely and look for anything different in the drift. If it straightens out it could well be a fish before you even feel the strike or take. I know for a fact that we all miss takes or grabs from time to time and that normally comes during the drop of your fly or during the drift. Sometimes the really big fish can be soft biters to include big kings, steelhead and big trout. I have no question that if you would like to hook more fish for your time on the water, sinking lines will be the answer. Remember that your presentation of fly to the fish will be very important in producing lots of action. This comes about in your drift, fly, cast and line selection. That is why I carry my reel and a couple extra spools so I can quickly change when necessary for different water levels and current flows.
At the head of a run you will find the current to be faster, dropping into deeper water which offers the most oxygen and protection for the fish. They feel safe and are often the most aggressive. Depending on the speed and depth of the current you might choose to use a Mini-Tip, T-200, T-300 or T-400 Teeny line. I often cast straight across the water or slightly up stream to allow my line to sink and make a more natural presentation. Other times I will fish higher up and swing the fly into the likely holding water at the top end of a run. Anyone that has ever fly fished moving water have always fished the swing. This is not a new method or technique in fly fishing. Where you stand can make a huge difference in hooking fish. How many times have you watched one or two anglers having most of the action? Chances are they know the water and have figured out where to stand and how to present the fly. Watch and pay close attention so the next time you fish the water in the same conditions (and they are not there) you may experience some great action. If the water level changes the fish may be holding in other areas.
If you have not yet made the decision to fish with a sinking type line I encourage you to do so if you would like to have more action and hook bigger fish.
A run is considered the section between the head of a drift and the tail end of a drift. Often times the run can hold the biggest number of fish. I love this water and it can be quite productive if fished properly. It is a big advantage if you are able to spot fish, then you know where you need to cast to make your best presentation. If not, fish the water as if they are there. Do not be afraid to change up your fly in size, color or style as I do this quite often with good results. It has been my experience on fish that are harder to get to bite that I stay with the darker, more natural colors as opposed to brighter flies, in sizes #4, #6, #8 and sometimes #10’s. Fishing deep, softer moving water with suspended fish you will need to use the Teeny Mini-Tip with a leader length of at least 9 feet so the shadow of your fly line does not scare the fish. What you want is only your fly and part of your leader to drift by the fish. When they are holding and not stirring around then you will be allowed a better presentation. In this situation, after you have made your cast and the fly is approaching the fish, with a very slow and smooth retrieve of your line you will be able to detect the softest take. This is a highly skilled method of fishing, and the most difficult but the results can be well worth it. I enjoy this type of sight fishing and the challenge level it brings.
If you have not yet made the decision to fish with a sinking type line I encourage you to do so if you would like to have more action and hook bigger fish. Do not worry that you can’t see your sinking fly line, just concentrate on your cast and presentation. When I designed the original integrated T-Series lines back in 1983 I made sure they were perfectly balanced, no knots or loops and color coded for a visual when to roll cast or pick up and shoot the line. They truly are fishing machines and changed fly fishing forever world-wide.
Do not forget to set the hook and have fun with great action on the water. Remember there are many different densities of lines from a type 1 to 8 or even more. Choose the one or ones that will work in the type of water you will be fishing. The bigger the number the faster it will sink. You have never had more lines to choose from. Get out on the water with your new sinking line and make some magic.