11 Tips For Fly Fishing High Water

Fly Fishing in High Water

This time of year, we’re usually writing about hatching insects and the blooming of springtime. With all the rain we’ve had, fly fishing high water seems a better topic. Fishing high water can be very productive, especially if the angler knows what to look for. Understanding hydraulics and likely locations to cast can produce good fish.

Here are some tips for fishing high water:

  1. High water is faster and causes insects to lose hold of whatever they’re clinging to. This means there is more food in the water, which makes trout lively.
  2. High water is usually stained. Trout are not as spooky, and many times will move into the open to feed.
  3. High water, at times, will cause trout to move to the outer banks of the stream, where they can rest in less-turbulent water.
  4. Use attention-getting flies. Try large streamers in dark colors, articulating patterns, large sculpin patterns, and do not forget about worm patterns like the San Juan or Squirmy Worm.
  5. High water is a good time to fish with a buddy.
  6. High water is also a good time to cinch that wading belt tight. It could help save your life.
  7. Use a wading staff for balance and to check depth.
  8. Bring a heavy 5- or 6-weight. Do not be shy with weight. Use whatever amount is needed to get flies to the bottom. When casting weight, be sure to use more of a lob cast. You don’t want that weight to hit your rod.
  9. Rig your leader with 3x or even 2x tippet. Line is less visible in stained water, and big trout might be on the prowl.
  10. Throw streamers either at or along the bank and strip. At times, throwing across and stripping back on a swing can get the rod almost jerked out of your hand. Cast to breaks caused by logs or large rocks, where trout hold out of the current.
  11. Know when to stop because of unsafe conditions.

Reel Em In Guide Service

Reel Em In Guide Service will be at the Blue Ridge Trout Fest in Blue Ridge, Ga. on April 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I’ll be giving a presentation on private water.

If you are a first-timer, we have several instructors schooled in the art of teaching fly fishing. If you are new to the area and need a place to go, give us a call. If big water is intimidating or if the Toccoa River DH is too rough for you to wade, we float the Toccoa with drift boats.

By James Bradley

James Bradley is an Orvis-endorsed guide with Reel Em In Guide Service (www.ReelEmInGuideService.com). They guide in Georgia and North Carolina, offer more than 6 miles of private trophy water and operate drift boats on the Toccoa and Tuckasegee rivers. Contact him at (706) 273-0764.

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