With very little rain of recent a common complaint we are seeing around the traps is that the rivers are getting low and anglers are often left scratching for fish. Those who are still using the same flies and tactics they usually employ, or who are still fishing the same old pools with the same old routine are sure to find it harder to come up with the goods, but it’s not hard to switch it up by taking a more logical approach. Although we are fishing for winter run fish, many of the tactics we employ across the summer months when things get low and clear are just what we should be doing here.
Here’s a fast 5 to help switch that mindset...
Use smaller flies.
Those big, bright ‘reaction flies’ and glo bugs should probably stay in the box. Consider dropping right down to the smallest in your box, and fish more olives and browns, natural tones. Slim, rabbit or marabou style patterns suggesting life, or even reach for that nymph box and choose a pair of subtle rubber legged, or soft hackle nymphs. The fish will still see them!
Use lighter gear.
In low flows that 550gr skagit head just may be a little much. Likewise, do you really need that aggressive 8wt, budgie indicator and double bomb rig at lower than normal flows? Consider dropping to your summertime rig as I’m sure both your fly size, and weight has dropped. 4x and 5x tippet will get more eats in softer water than the 2x and 3x you normally fish, and extend out that tippet an extra foot or so.
Likewise with casting, that large ‘white mouse’ may look cool in photos but do you really want to splash down, and tear up the surface on nervous water? Think of your presentation and how you pick up, and drop your line.
Fish the change of light.
Trout aren’t likely to be as active in the brightest part of the day, and this is also when angling pressure is at its height. Consider getting out of bed that little bit earlier or sticking it out a touch later to fish in lower light, when fish are likely to become more active.
In low, clear water fish can see your fly from a long ways away, however may be wary of chasing it. Fish it on a slow swing and move through the pool slowly ensuring it gets right in front of their face. Try similar, uniform swings if you want to create familiarity and predictability with your fly, or mix it up with pulses, draws etc if you feel you need to liven it up to get that grab. If nymphing, cut that pool up like a chess board and fish each square carefully. Start to the side, spreading your casts out across before moving up. In clear water you can imagine those squares being larger than what they would be in higher, or coloured flows.
Move slow as you approach the pool, wade softly and consider wearing camo / more earthy tones. They’re still trout right and if they know you’re there, chances are you won’t catch them.
And for a bonus tip, fish close to cover. Low water trout won’t be sitting exposed up on the shallow edges, so hit that big cut bank, close to those trees, or get right down in that hole to put your fly where the fish are.
As I edit this I see there’s rain in the forecast (typically) but keep these tips in your back pocket for the next time those cumecs plunge.