by Fly Fisherman

Sometimes, usually in water well above 55° F., you will see trout in shallow water with their heads close to the bottom and their tails making quiet little swirls at or near the surface. These fish are hunting for nymphs or larvae on the rocks of the bottom. Fishermen call this process “tailing.”
A nymph, fished by the upstream natural drift method, will be almost the only way to take these tailing fish successfully. As trout in shallow water can see you more easily than they can in deep water, be especially careful to keep low and cast delicately so your fly will come down on the water like thistledown. A long leader—I 2 ft. to 20 ft., tapered to 4X—is often necessary for these conditions. Because trout often dislodge nymphs from the rocks and then swim downstream after them, don’t pick up your nymph in such fishing too quickly. You will be surprised how close to you some trout will chase your fly.
Nymphs are particularly good flies to use in fishing still waters. This takes long casting, with long leaders. Be particularly careful to approach carefully because the stiller the water the better trout can see you. You may have to kneel down in the water. Use a side cast and put your nymph down very lightly.

If there is no way to approach a certain piece of fairly shallow still water, like the lower end of a still pool just above
the lip of a riffle, you will have to wade up to a good casting position as quietly as possible—even though in plain sight of the trout. Stand perfectly still for five or ten minutes—until the fish have returned to their feeding positions. Use a side cast and let the nymph sink clear to the bottom. For this technique the fly and leader should sink but the line be treated with a line dressing so that it floats. Watch your line closely. If it moves in any way other than the natural current drift,
strike quickly but lightly, otherwise you may miss the trout you’ve lured to take your nymph. If nothing happens, or you miss him, retrieve with a slow hand-twist retrieve, timed about 15 turns per minute. Continue shortening the line until you can lift it without disturbing your fishing water. A sloppy pick-up in this situation will spoil your chances. Wait several minutes before making the next cast—and try to make each cast perfect. If your fly lands in the wrong place, don’t pick it up and cast again, or you’ll scare every trout in the neighborhood. Fish out the cast just as if it had been a good one. If you are willing to fish a still water carefully and deliberately, you will probably take more fish than you would by racing by to try fishing as many spots as possible.

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