FISHING RIFFLES

by Fly Fisherman

FISHING RIFFLES
About 75% of all fish food in a trout stream is in the riffles or series of small rapids and rocky pockets common to all good trout rivers and creeks. This water is always of the broken current variety—in Western streams is often white-water. At first glance these rapids may seem like just a mixed up lot of fast water with no place for a fish to stay in; but, if you’ll look closer, you’ll find rocky pockets all through the riffles where the current has gouged out deeper holes. In these pockets the trout can hang in fairly gentle current close to where dislodged aquatic insects are floated to them.
The pockets should be fished upstream with a very short line—whether you are using a dry fly, wet fly, nymph, buck-tail or streamer. Because riffle trout are definitely feeding, you done need to wait to see a rise—you probably wouldn’t see it in the fast water, anyhow. These trout can’t see far in such water, so use a 6 ft. or 7 ft. leader, tapered to lx.
Cast to the upper side of each pocket and let the fly drift across. Every kind of water manipulation works here. A straight dry fly float, a natural drift wet fly handling, action manipulation with a wet fly, bucktail or streamer, and dapping with a fuzzy spider, bivisible or a fluffy bucktail. Literally everything goes. If it’s hard to find trout feeding, then the riffles are your best bet. They’ll produce when nothing else will—probably not your biggest trout, but the greatest number and the most action. A No. 10 or 12 size fly is usually about right. The 60°-68° water bracket is ideal for this riffle fishing.

FISHING THE FLATS
The flats in a trout stream — long, shallow, quiet water stretches over gravel or sand bottom, usually at the lower ends of good sized pools—are a challenge to the dry fly angler. In the 60°-68° water temperature range, these areas probably may not hold any trout in the hot part of the day, but in the late afternoon, evening and early morning in normal weather and clear water the big trout—especially Browns—take to cruising in these flats. The water is quiet and shallow so you can see the rises and often see the trout themselves. The ease with which you see the fish means it’s just as easy for them to see you; and a cruising trout is super-alert for danger. Ospreys love to pick up big trout in these places—and don’t think for a moment the trout don’t know that.

As I mentioned earlier when talking about wet fly tactics, you may have to Wade into casting position at the lower end of these flats and stay perfectly still for five, ten or fifteen minutes to let the trout get over being frightened. If they return to cruising and feeding you may then have a grand chance for some good fish. Watch to see which way the fish, or line of rises, is progressing and then cast your fly about fifteen feet ahead of the trout. Just let the fly lie still on the water. If you don’t get a rise try to let the cruising trout go by and let the fly drift clear down close to you before picking it up. One drift may take as much as five minutes, but it’s worth the time.
Fishing Gravel Shoal from Deeper Water

GRAVEL SHOALS
In the evening or at night you will often find trout—and good ones—feeding on fairly shallow gravel shoals, over which there is a smooth current flowing. These fish are usually cruising, although not to the same extent as they do in the flats. These gravel shoal trout are very scary. They may see you from as much as forty feet away, The approach is the main problem here. There are two ways to do it. One is, after you have fished out the deeper current without getting within forty feet of this gravel shoal position, to make a fifty to sixty foot cast from the deeper water, using a 12 ft. to 18 ft. leader, tapered to 4X (.006 in diam.). The fly should be an exact imitation type and fairly small—No. 12 or No. 14. Hatch conditions will dictate the fly, but the approach and leader needed won’t change.

Fishing Gravel Shoal from Shore
The other safe approach for these gravel shoal trout is to fish from well back on the shore, keeping low, and preferably letting only the leader and fly rest on the water. In this case you’ll probably have to use a stouter leader, tapered to IX.

FISHING EDDIES
Fishing an eddy (a place where the current reverses so it is flowing upstream and revolving in a circular direction) with a
dry fly is usually best accomplished by casting in the direction that would be generally downstream but which is upstream to the eddy current. It takes a little more time and care to do it this way, but you’ll take some big trout that would certainly -c you and refuse the fly if fished in the ordinary way. If
–re is foam on the eddy, you can sometimes lure a big trout
; dropping your fly on the edge of the foam and letting it oat there a moment before it drifts into the clearer current A the eddy.

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