By Bob Reece
Low Fall flows don’t mean an end to streamer fishing.
I blessed to live in the great state of Wyoming. However, in my region of the country, flow levels on many of the watersheds that I fish are far below average this fall. Even with these challenging conditions, fall streamer fishing is still an option!
This past weekend I headed out to one of my favorite pieces of water. I was surprised to find the flows even lower than I expected. I had originally planned on fishing large streamer patterns on a heavy shooting head line. The water conditions forced me to call an audible and abandon that setup.
Knowing that there were large fish in this watershed, I simply altered my streamer setup and proceeded with a mini meat approach. I rigged up a floating line with a twelve and a half foot leader tapered to 2x. To the end of this I attached one of my Masked Bandits. This is my smallest streamer pattern and has no weight added to the hook shank. Due to this lack of weight it’s important to completely saturate the pattern prior to fishing it. During this process, I also rub it into the mud and sediment along the water’s edge to give it that “part of the ecosystem scent”.
The strength of this setup in shallow water conditions lies in the fact that, when stripped, the fly remains in the top four to six inches of the water column.
This significantly increases the distance of retrieve that can be used in low flow conditions compared to that of weighted lines and heavy streamers.
On the piece of water that I fished this weekend, the only significant depth that remained was in spaced out buckets, bends and cut banks. The average length of these lies, runs from ten to fifteen feet. With my light weight set up I was able to distance myself from these locations, making casts that ranged from thirty to fifty feet. This spacing, along with my lengthy leader, was beneficial due to the low clear water and subsequently spooky fish.
I did hook some fish in the deeper water of the bends and buckets. However, the vast majority were caught running down my Masked Bandit in six to twelve inches of water after leaving the safety of those areas. The visual of these takes is more than engaging due to the wakes that the fish make through the shallow water. In tandem with this presentation, it is also important to impart movement to the fly as soon as it hits the water. With the high level of visibility, this technique instantaneously puts a “living” target into the trout’s field of senses.
Change is a constant in all aspects of our life. No two seasons on the water are ever the same. As a result it is imperative to have the skills needed to adapt to a plethora of conditions. As you move through your life long journey as a fly fisher, add this low flow streamer setup to your arsenal. The payoffs can be large and the pleasure invaluable.
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