Fly Fishing: Belly Crawling My Way to Big Beautiful Trout

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Sometimes you’ve got to take your stealth to the next level to catch spooky trout. Photo Louis Cahill

I know what you’re probably thinking, “Come on Kent, you wrote another freaking post about the importance of stealth for spooky trout?

Yes, I did, but this isn’t your average stealth post. Most of us already know spooky trout require anglers to move slow and quietly. We understand how important it is to pay attention to our shadows, to work fish with our leader and fly only, and that delicate presentations are critical. Last, but not least, we’re smart enough to realize that even when luck is on our side, all we’re probably going to get is a couple good shots before the game is over.

Most of the time, if we maintain our stealth in all of the above areas, catching trout isn’t a problem. But from time to time, we do find ourselves on trout streams when conditions are so damn challenging, our standard everyday stealth tactics won’t be enough to get the job done. In order for us to find success in the toughest of conditions, we have to be willing to push our stealth efforts a step further. And that means going above and beyond what other anglers are too lazy or physically unable to do to catch trout. That’s right, I’m talking about dropping to the ground, and crawling on all fours into position to make a cast.

About a week ago, that’s exactly the situation Louis and I found ourselves dealing with, after traveling to a new headwater section of trout water. Excited about the opportunity to fish trout water neither of us had laid our eyes on, we quickly rigged up our gear and walked down to the stream. The first spot that each of us fly fished, the trout darted off like a bat out of hell as soon as our flies hit the water. It was almost as though, someone phoned the trout ahead of time, and let them know we were coming for them. Humbled and our ego’s checked, we moved upstream in search of more promising water. The polite angler that Louis is, he gave me first dibs on the next spot. Once again, though, despite making what I thought was a solid presentation, the trout spooked. As I sat on the bank of the stream to downsize my flies and tippet, Louis leap frogged ahead to the next hole. With my rig changed out, I turned upstream and saw Louis on the ground in the prone position, with his rod bent over. Running up to help him out netting his trout, I yelled, “Damn boy, that away to sacrifice the body and waders for a hook up.” He replied laughing, “I belly crawled my fat ass all the way from that tree over there, and the first bow and arrow cast I made, this big some of a bitch ate my fly. And that’s when it hit me, I could keep on fly fishing and keep spooking every trout I cast to, or I could follow Louis’s lead, and get down and dirty on all fours. I think you know what I chose to do.


One of the gorgeous rainbows we hooked up with, in the prone position. Photo Louis Cahill

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “Fly Fishing: Belly Crawling My Way to Big Beautiful Trout

  1. I ran into a similar situation in Spearfish Canyon. I ended up making a hundred yard crawl through nettles to place one perfect flip cast to the head of the pool. The fish that hit spooked all the others out of the hole, but it was worth it.

  2. I am going out and buying a gillies suite. You can look like a clump of weeds next to the bank and hit those spooky fish. LOL. I joke. But good info.

  3. I call it “commando fly fishing” and knee pads are a big part of it, saving your knees from abuse. My home water is a very small, extremely clear, spring creek with beautiful wild browns. Many casts are made only after I’ve crawled or snuck around a bit. Planning and executing the stalk are part of the challenge and reward. Love that bow and arrow cast. Don’t forget the knee pads.

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