This week I got an email from a Canterbury angler with a range of questions relating to some tricky situations. Over the next while we will work through these and this week, we kick off with a common dilemma: how to approach fish that are sitting in a deep, slow pool. Here’s my take...
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? 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.