Tight Quarters Trout Fishing

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Don’t be afraid of tight quarter fly presentations. Photo: Louis Cahill

(Watch our video that demonstrates this scenario)

If you’ve been fly fishing for a while, you’ve probably become pretty proficient at dropping your dry flies in tight quarters to catch trout that are either tucked in under foliage or holding tight to an undercut bank. What If I asked you to make that same presentation, however, with a tandem nymph rig on a small stream with a strike indicator and split-shot? Could you pull it off with the same percentage of success? If you answered yes, hands off to you, because you are not the norm. I’ve found that most of my clients in this situation lack the confidence and know how to make consistently accurate fly presentations with a heavy tandem wet fly rig.

Below is a video Louis and I shot a while back, explaining how I pull off tight quarter casting on small trout streams. I had my rod rigged with a tandem nymph rig to show you  the most important things I focus on when casting to targets in these tight quarters.

Tight Quarters Fly Casting on Small Streams

Tip 1: Position yourself where you can get the correct casting angle to your target and also get a nice drift.

Tip 2: Strip off plenty of fly line but only start out with a foot or two of fly line when you begin your cast.

Tip 3: Cast smoothly and watch your forward and backcast to get your timing perfect, and keep your fly rod traveling in a straight line path or flat plane.

Tip 4: Reach the last remaining few feet to your target by shooting your line. You won’t always have enough room to false cast the entire length of fly line without getting hung up in foliage.

Give these four tips a try next time you’re fly fishing on a small trout stream and have to make tight quarter presentations with your tandem nymph rig. You should find it much easier and more effective.

Check out the video!


Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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6 thoughts on “Tight Quarters Trout Fishing

  1. Great tips. I agree with all of them and use them regularly. I fish some smaller streams where my tandem may be a pair of wooly buggers or other slightly larger flies. The same tactics still work.

    I also try not to false cast too frequently. I am fine if my first cast does not hit the spot I was aiming for, as long as I am short, and not in the bushes/trees/overhang. If the cast is short, it does a lot to help me calibrate the power I need as well as how much line.

  2. It depends on wether the spot ‘is worth it to adjust the rig’.
    The situation in your video looks like a nice but not a real HOT spot as in there’s a big boss waiting.

    I also would choose a lot smaller indicator and also a lot shorter distance between the indicator and the fly (or flies).

    You might also consider a dry fly and dropper rig.
    1) it’s a lot easier to cast a tight loop in such tight conditions
    2) you can easily switch to a dry only just by cutting the dropper line.

    • Hey Jay,

      Good point on the dry dropper rig. That being said, the purpose of the video was to point out how to present heavy rigs (like tandem nymph) rigs in tight quarters.

      The stream in the video where I was casting was super low. Thats why that spot doesn’t look that good. It generally will hold a nice trout on the far bank when water levels are a little higher. And its secondary spots like these that smart old trout will sit in and watch anglers right by without giving it a cast.


      • Hi Kent,

        Casting a heavy (double) nymph rig is indeed what is considered often as difficult to cast, getting tangled etc.

        I fish double nymph rigs all the time. This way I can see what the fish’s preference is. I have my heaviest nymph on top and smaller and lighter nymph on the bottom. This way the lighter nymph is moving more freely rather than ‘chained’ between the leader and the heavy nymph.

        About tangling and difficult to cast:
        Keep tension on the line at all times when casting. Tension as in no line sagging down when casting. As soon as your line sags while casting, the weight of the nymph(s) will start to drop and hit either the line, rod of yourself.

        By keeping tension (as in high line speed), you keep the nymph(s) out of everything.

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