How To Fish Deep Pools

We get emails asking questions about all sorts of Fly Fishing related topics. Recently, a Canterbury angler sent us a range of questions relating to some tricky situations, one such item was how to approach fish that are sitting in a deep, slow pool.

When questions like this come in, there's really only one person that has the time to answer them...and thankfully that one person is also extremely qualified to do so. The entire marketing department is forever grateful for the practically bottomless pit of information that the one and only Chris Dore has to offer. If you've landed here, then you can thank him too.


Fly Fishing Deep Pools - thoughts by Chris Dore


You need to decide if you want to get down to where the fish are, or if you think they will lift. Slim ties, non-buoyant materials, double tungsten beads and Loon deep soft weight, presented on longer, lighter leaders with a slack line presentation will buy you depth. Or do you want your flies to flutter / suspend on their way down?

Dores Depth Control

Dore's Depth Contol 3.5 from the Manic Fly Collection

On brighter days, a lightly weighted, light reflecting soft hackled pattern can work great slowly sinking through a big pool on a light leader. Movement from the soft hackle and reflection from the flash, or silver bead etc will imitate life, catch the eye and it’s amazing how far a fish will lift when he wants something.

Soft Hackle HE

Soft Hackle Hares Ear from the Manic Fly Collection

Move them.

Do you want to use an indicator to suspend your flies or not? In deeper, slow water, by the time your indicator twitches the fish will have often dropped your fly. In large, deep slow moving pools you can cover more territory, and respond quicker to the take by removing the indicator altogether and keeping in touch with your flies, allowing the full length of your leader to get the flies down deeper, less affected by the often faster surface currents.

Fly Fishing Deep Pools

Image @ Andrew Harding

From a concealed position throw long up and across the pool, stripping only enough to nearly keep in touch with your nymphs. As they reach depth, a couple of short, erratic strips can bring cdc collars or long, rubber legs to life and get the hit as there retrieved across the pool. Feel for the slightest hesitation on your flies and watch for flashes or movement around your flies.


Fish flies that get noticed.

Big, rubber legged dries, rubber legged nymphs such as Simons Uglies, the aforementioned flashy, soft hackled wets. And of course, try a streamer. In clearer water fish will come up a long way for a Mr Glister, and in tougher conditions, a sex dungeon can prove deadly.

Fishing Fly
Simon's Ugly Green/Red from the Manic Fly Collection
Mr Glister Fishing Fly
The Author's own 'Mr Glister' from the Manic Fly Collection on a Primal Mega CCC
Sex Dungeon
Sex Dungeon - natural from the Manic Fly Collection


Look to higher percentage water.

If a fish is sitting deep he probably won’t get caught. Differing surface currents vs the currents down deep will conspire against you. The fish is there for a reason and it’s usually not because it’s ravenous. Determine first whether he is feeding, whether he’s happy to lift or if your time is better spent looking for a better option in more accessible water upstream.

 Fly Fishing Deep Pools

Image @ Andrew Harding


It often pays to simply sit and wait. Fish may move across or up into more accessible water as food availability or feeding confidence increases. Be ready for your shot and take it. Or simply give it a wide berth and continue upstream, your fish may have moved to more accessible water on your walk back downstream at the days end.



Chris Dore is a battle tested fly fishing guide with nearly 20 years of professional guiding experience, battling the demanding, ever changing conditions that our New Zealand rivers throw at us.

In 2006 Chris became one of the first New Zealanders to successfully pass the internationally recognised Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructors examination and has since taught many thousands of anglers to up their skillset.

For more in person and on river fly fishing advice and upskilling why not book Chris for a day or three?