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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18 thoughts on “Fly Fishing: Belly Crawling My Way to Big Beautiful Trout

  1. Hey Kent,

    I can honestly say I have never fished from my stomach, but am willing to give it a try after reading and seeing that trout! wow! I typically will take a knee on small creeks but even then I will spook fish. Were you able do any other types of casts other than the bow & arrow from this position? Just curious.



  2. There is a good article somewhere about how the Team USA Youth boys resorted to this to win worlds in Ireland this year. Often a very overlooked aspect of fishing.

  3. Kent, sweet article. I’ve torn up some nice waders crawling up to water. I seem to always find a sharp stick or rock. Maybe there’s a market for “skid plates” on waders? Stealth is critical, my heart always stops when you get finned but an epic fish that gets spooked.
    Enjoy your stuff keep it up.

  4. Been there a few times. I must admit that I tend to be stubborn about actually crawling around until I spot a large fish. Then I forget about the discomfort of getting down on the ground and focus on getting that one nice fish.

  5. May sound cheesy, but I admire the Great Blue Heron for there stealth. That is one slick bird and always in the right spot. Just the other day I saw one impale what looked to be about a 10″ trout. When is the last time you could slip with in arms length of a trout?

    • JSA,

      They are some stealthy and patient birds aren’t they. It’s a real shame that they do so much destruction for trout populations by us. I’m totally cool with some, but it seems like the populations have got out of hand the last five to ten years. What do you think?


      • I see a good number here in WNC. They are definitely opportunistic. Seem like they know when the rivers get stocked too! Like any other wading bird they are protected by the feds.The long legged gallie nipper or pond scroggin by some, enjoy there fish eating amnisty to the fullest for sure. Altough I have heard stories of some dissappearing for being gluttonous. Justin

  6. Never had to get this stealthy but did have to use the bow cast on my knees to cast to cutthroats in Alaska. I asked around about where I might catch some and every fly fisher person was tight lipped about their spots. I finally found some that I was walking by every trip to an estuary to catch Dollies. They were in a beaver that’s, what I called them anyway. These runs were at most 2 feet wide but they were loaded with cutthroat. I never saw another person fishing for these cuts and they became my little secret.

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