How to Fly Fish Straight Sections of Trout Water

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A beautiful Snake River cutthroat trout landed along the banks on a straight section of river. Photo By: Louis Cahill

It’s your lucky day. You’ve somehow managed to get away from your busy work schedule and find time to spend a few days fly fishing for beautiful cutthroat trout out west.

You’ve brought several trout to hand fishing a series of S-bends, and you feel like a hero. Life is good, right? Unfortunately, the hot fishing is about to slow significantly as you round the bend in the river and notice the river flows straight as an arrow for the next several hundred yards. There’s very little mid-stream obstructions and no well defined current seams. Furthermore, the water depth is consistent bank to bank. You fish for a while, working your way upstream blind casting, but you’re not having any luck. You find yourself getting frustrated because you can’t figure out where the trout should be holding, and there’s no rising fish. What should you do?

When I find myself in this situation, I focus on presenting my flies against the banks. When there’s no obvious current seams or in-stream structure providing depth change or current buffers, cutthroat trout will generally prefer holding close to the banks. The water current running along the banks causes friction, and this friction slows down the current speed making it a much more efficient place hold and feed. Because all trout prefer to feed in areas where they can consume more energy than their expending, they instinctively search out these slower current areas. So remember this next time you’re forced to fly fish a straight and uniform section of trout stream or river, and focus your time and energy on targeting the banks with your flies. If you still aren’t having success after doing so, bypass the water completely in search of the next bend, drop off, or significant current seam.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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One thought on “How to Fly Fish Straight Sections of Trout Water

  1. I had some recent success in this type of water by lengthening my cast a lot, avoiding walking on the bank, and casting sparsely. The slow, glassy water required more stealth. Alternating casts to the left/right bank, as Kent said, was most productive.

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