Just because the rivers/streams are flowing high doesn’t mean the fish aren’t eating. Fly fishing in rivers during high water can present some challenges, but with the right techniques and strategies, you can still have a successful and enjoyable fishing experience. Here are some tips to help you fly fish rivers during high water:
- Safety First: Before venturing out to fish in high water conditions, prioritize your safety. Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) or a wading belt to ensure buoyancy and stability. Use a wading staff, even if it’s just a branch from a nearby tree. Avoid wading in fast currents and be cautious near swollen banks or trees. Don’t try to wade into water where you cannot see the bottom.
- Observe and Plan: Take some time to observe the river before you start fishing. Note the areas where the water is relatively calmer or slower-moving, such as eddies, pools, and backwaters. Insides of bends are great holding places for Trout. These areas may hold fish seeking refuge from the strong current.
- Fish the Edges: During high water, fish tend to seek shelter along the river’s edges. Look for places where the current slows down, such as along the banks or behind large rocks and boulders. Cast your flies into these areas where fish are likely to be holding.
- Use Streamers: Streamer flies imitate larger baitfish and can be effective in high water conditions. The increased flow makes fish more opportunistic, and streamers can provoke aggressive strikes. Choose streamers that have a lot of movement and work them across the currents or dead drift them through eddies.
- Adjust Your Weighting: In high water, the increased flow makes it necessary to adjust your weight to get your fly down to the fish. Use heavier nymphs or add more split shot weights to your leader to ensure your flies reach the desired depth. Experiment with different weight configurations until you find the right balance.
- Opt for High-Visibility Flies: In murky or turbid water, it can be challenging for fish to spot your fly. Choose larger, high-visibility flies that stand out in the water, making them more noticeable to the fish. Flies with bright colors or added attractor features can be helpful in these conditions. Darker flies for darker water is a good rule of thumb.
- Focus on Presentation: With the high water flow, fish may have limited visibility, so presentation becomes crucial. Make sure your casts are accurate, and try to get your fly in the right feeding lanes. Drift your flies through likely holding spots and give them a natural movement to entice strikes. Work the water more thoroughly then you normally would.
- Vary Your Retrieval Speed: Experiment with different retrieval speeds when fishing streamers or wet flies. Sometimes a slow, steady retrieve works best, while other times, an erratic, fast retrieve triggers aggressive strikes. Vary your retrieval speed to determine what the fish are responding to on that day.
- Stay Persistent: Fishing in high water can be challenging, and it may take some time to find the right spots and techniques that work. Stay persistent, be adaptable, and continue exploring the river until you locate fish. Patience and perseverance are key.
Remember to check local regulations, as fishing during high water may not be advisable or allowed in some areas. Additionally, it’s always beneficial to consult with local flys hops or experienced anglers who have specific knowledge about the river and its conditions.