river/stillwater

daved

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im a learning novice and i dream of being able to fish rivers/stream with a fly.
At present im learning on a stillwater.
I have been told today by an extremely experienced fly man(before all slag him off, he is very good)
My only aim really is to fish like this.
Do you think i am wasting my time on reservoirs


John Norris or what ever you are called. you answer my post i will treat you as prey cos a ****













john norris
 

steveb5836

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As a returning fisher after 20 years i re-started on stillwaters just to get back into the flow. I have been tempted to go reservoirs but still honing skills first. My advice is to try them all and find what you are more comfortable with whilst starting out as from what i can gather there is a slight different skill set on resovior but some may shoot me down. And welcome to the sport and whatever you decide just enjoy
 

taterdu

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No, you're not wasting your time on reservoirs, any time spent fishing is time well spent!

However, rivers and streams are a very different 'kettle of fish' from a still water, demanding very different skills and approaches. To become proficient on rivers you really need to fish them. It would be a good idea to find someone with some experience of rivers to go out with a few times and point you in the right direction.
 

Vermontdrifter

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I agree 100% with the previous post. You are not wasting your time as you are gaining proficiency in casting, presentation of the fly, fighting the fish and confidence in your ability to catch but the only way to learn how to, "fish", a river or stream is to do it. By fish I mean reading the water, coping with drift and drag, and learning that the best fish tend to hang out in places where there is a 50/50 chance that your cast will end in a bush, tree or other obstacle. You will also learn to leave a change of dry clothes in the car, how to avoid crabby bovines, discover that eventually all waders leak, that at some point while wading you will discover the slickest surface in the universe, that rivers will eat fly boxes and glasses but you will have a fantastic time while doing so!

Take care

Terry
 
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parrot

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If you want to fish rivers, then fish them. I have never understood this progression of small still waters to reservoirs to stocked rivers to wbt rivers. Get stuck in with what you want to do and enjoy it.
 

thetrouttickler

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I have never understood this progression of small still waters to reservoirs to stocked rivers to wbt rivers.

Perhaps because all the literature idealises the "art" and "lore" or river fly fishing and puts it on a pedestal?

Too butcher the well known quote:

"I am not against stillwater flyfishing, since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering river flyfishing."

:p
 

ant77

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I agree 100% with the previous post. You are not wasting your time as you are gaining proficiency in casting, presentation of the fly, fighting the fish and confidence in your ability to catch but the only way to learn how to, "fish", a river or stream is to do it. By fish I mean reading the water, coping with drift and drag, and learning that the best fish tend to hang out in places where there is a 50/50 chance that your cast will end in a bush, tree or other obstacle. You will also learn to leave a change of dry clothes in the car, how to avoid crabby bovines, discover that eventually all waders leak, that at some point while wading you will discover the slickest surface in the universe, that rivers will eat fly boxes and glasses but you will have a fantastic time while doing so!

Take care

Terry
That is all very true. However, once you almost get the hang of all of that it becomes, in my view, mostly much more simple than reservoir fishing, which is partly where all the pleasure of river fishing comes from. The zen thing is something quite unique to rivers, most of the time.

I distinguish reservoirs from stillwaters only with the distinction that a reservoir is, in the main, likely to be larger in area and much deeper than a lake and can therefore house dramatically different features which are to the benefit of trout but, perhaps (often, in my experience) not to the fly angler.

Mention the difficulty of catching stocked fish to many folk and you will be met with a wry smile. I'd probably give you the same response at this time of year if you were talking about many of the places I fish. There's a reason for this: say the fish have been stocked recently at a size that far exceeds anything the water would naturally produce (sometimes anything over a 1lb wild fish would be highly improbable in an oligatrophic (nutrient poor) reservoir, the likes of which we find frequently in the North of England) then those fish are going to find themselves very hungry, very quickly, and they will eat almost anything they see. So, of course, it can be very easy.

But give it three months and fish for the same trout in the same reservoir in the Summer - at the same time as you might find that on the river there is more productivity towards dusk when the BWO spinner fall brings the best trout, sometimes predictably, from their lies - and see how you fare. By then those reservoir trout will have found their natural food sources, and they may follow these up to the surface if conditions are right but, much more importantly, they will only live and feed where it is comfortable to do so. Often at that time of year you can strip a lure or pull some wets or dangle some buzzers or imitations of what is in front of you all day long on a floating or intermediate line but never connect with a fish. The reason for that is you are fishing too shallow and, if you're fishing from a bank without substantial drop-offs, then you can forget it. You're also up against the fact that the trout are slowing down because of a change in metabolic rate. You're going to need to learn how to fish from and maneouvre a boat, and drift it well. And, crucially, you're going to need to employ sinking lines in order to work out at which depth the fish are feeding, probably fishing flies which invoke an aggressive response which has momentarily radgied them out of their almost dormant state.

I've read that rainbows tend to stay within their comfort zone (which is whatever thermocline they're happy with) and they will not chase something outside of those parameters. I think thats true and when you realise the sorts of depths they're happy to live in you also understand that there is no point even looking for them if you aren't prepared to fish at the right depth, which is a skill in itself. Even though they may be (technically) starving they aren't going to rise 12' to take a fly from the surface layers then return to where they're comfortable. So are you prepared to work out when your flies are 12' deep?

Conversely, by and large, brown trout living wild in rivers will feed opportunistically as well as at strategic times in the day (although I doubt they have 'away days' to come up with that strategy). They have to put up with whatever water and food comes to them and be able to survive - shade and refuge from predators is a great help with this, hence Vermontdrifter's comment re finding the (better) fish in gnarly places. But you won't need a sinking line or a countdown system: you'll need a completely different skillset which he has listed.

It pains me when I see comments about 'stillwater' fishing being somehow inferior to river fishing, especially when I realise that what some folk mean by 'stillwater' is vastly different to my understanding of it. Both have significant challenges which take a long time to even get a handle on. They are very different and there are very few masters of both disciplines and the sub-disciplines within each. As said I do love the zen of river fishing but would never denigrate stillwaters to a lower league because of my inability to work, almost metronomically at times, to catch almost impossible rainbows.

You're just starting, Dave. Enjoy it ALL! ;)
 

tobesfish

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You won't learn how to read a river on a stillwater and that is honestly 90% of the challenge. The remaining 10% is casting and tying a fly on so if you can do that then it is time to start spending time on a river learning where the fish are and how to get something in front of them!
 

ant77

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You won't learn how to read a river on a stillwater and that is honestly 90% of the challenge. The remaining 10% is casting and tying a fly on so if you can do that then it is time to start spending time on a river learning where the fish are and how to get something in front of them!

I think there's some value in that approach too! In fact, I started on rivers :thumbs:

I should also point out, unless I've already put you off, Dave :), that I've only focussed on the issues of depth and species in Summer daytime in wot I wrote above. Please don't let that make you think that my personal findings of the difficulties in catching rainbow trout on reservoirs are limited to that. For example, in his fine itinerary of how to fish rivers, Terry mentioned the fabled 'drag free drift', but that is not, by any stretch of the modern fly fishing imagination, the sole preserve of river fishing for wild fish.

In fact, these days, I'm inclined to think that the reason dry fly fishing on reservoirs was historically something of a very minor strategy (elder statesmen of the sport please, please, please do comment) is either that drag, including micro-drag, was not thought to overly affect the presentation of the fly on the surface until the floating fly line had swung all the way around and visibly dragged the leader and therefore the fly, 'unnaturally', and was consequently overlooked as the principle reason for not many fish being caught to the method. Or, that proper dry fly presentation was thought altogether too tricky a thing to effect and hence wasn't bothered with unless the right conditions prevailed; an example of that might be in a late evening sedge hatch where the action of the line swinging around and towing the fly across the water induced a take, in much the same way as we might fish a sedge in late Summer on any river - if you haven't done that yet, please do try one night much later in this season.

The other potential reason, of course, is that sub-surface wets may have been much more productive, so why bother? As an adjunct to that thought, it was interesting to read another member's views before he departed FFF; they went something along the lines of 'triploids don't chase'. And of course, we're all triploid now. As an additional aside, a couple of highly successful comp fishers I know well (stillwater internationals) profess to love fishing the dry for pleasure but would almost never entertain it in a competition (Ireland excepted) because they find their methods to bag more fish even through a boisterous surface hatch. That strikes me as very similar to the views of highly successful comp fishers (rivers) I know, who, erm, also fish sub-surface methods as a matter of course. The only comp (friendly) I ever fished on Stocks was won by 17 fish to a Yellow Owl (a CDC emerger), with the runners-up being firmly in the Booby/Blob camps, and I thought that was huge testament to the chap who won it for both his water-reading skills (yep, you've got to have them on stillwaters too) and his eye for what the trout were actually feeding on. A lot of the rest of us had just a few to the boat.

And, of course, the drag free drift IS DEAD. It was officially announced just last week in that fantastic new/old/hermetically-sealed/open-to-all discipline which, whichever way you look at it (even better if you get chance to fish it!), is going to teach you something that is going to vastly improve all your fishing. Watch JP at 6'30"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u_f6aksIeY

Bloody hell, I digress. But my point is that either way, the currents of a river that will dictate our reading of it in a session, and therefore inform our angling approach, are largely consistent across the course of that session when compared to the vagaries of surface tensions and movements in any given part of a reservoir's surface. These, and the layers beneath, are almost permanently being affected by The Wind; those a foot beneath being more affected than those three feet beneath in lesser hoolies. She might be blowing hard across your casting shoulder one minute and reversing back to ease your casting the next, catching the hill opposite to deaden your cast, or accelerating it. Wherever she goes there is a simple fact; sooner or later the trout will follow. You just have to work out whether that's going to be sooner, right now, or later.

Compensating for a switch in direction isn't always straightforward either, and then, suddenly, the clouds lift and there is an ocean of tranqulity in front of you with trout everywhere; the surface is boiling at just about the limit of your casting range. What do you do with your 16' leader with it's handsomely-tied wets spaced 4' apart? That set-up had been doing the business for you an hour ago. Do you keep them on and risk disturbing the fish? Or do you overhaul it all, re-tackle, and cast with an 18-22' tapered leader terminated in a skinnier and more marginal tippet to land a size 18 emerger five yards east of a sipping trout's nose and wait for that moment to time the strike as the fish travels that short distance to your fly, which seems like a mile at the time, as it sips it's natural food down confidently from the surface a mere 30 yards away from you?

Unfortunately, just before you got your **** together, the cloud covered the sun, the wind picked back up to a steady 15 mph, and the trout disappeared. Of course you carry an extra rod to cover another eventuality, but which eventuality will it be, and how many rods might you need to have set up in case of any one of them appears to give you your only moment's grace to avoid a blank?

And why, on some days, do you have to cast a muddler directly into the sun before whipping it back? 11 o'clock blank. 1 o'clock blank. 12 Noon Kabooom. Ah, the position of the sun and how it affects the eyesight of the trout at a specific depth in the water you say? OK, I'll go with that, I'm pleased I finally worked it out after five years of trying. How deep are they again?

One thing I can guarantee is that once you get used to rivers you will look at any given beat and have a good idea of where there should be a trout. I think that is a much harder game on a reservoir, obviously not when they've just come off the boat in March or April, but at any time thereafter when they aren't rising and you're having to work it out. Or even when they are rising and you're still having to work it out.

I just read back through all the above and thought, 'Jesus'. But, you know what, its all good, because it's all about catching dem ittle fishies, wherever they may be and I hope you all catch a bucketload this season. Stillwaters do seem to get a bad press these days so I hope I've given you some idea that the opposite is true - just don't ever rock up at one without having an idea of what your back-up plan is going to be :thumbs:
 
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Mrtrout

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Well you've had some excellent advice there Dave, I think taterdu makes a good point of having a bit of time with someone on a river if you can.
If I were you I'd leave your rod at home and take a walk down the river you're thinking of fishing, if another angler is casting sit down well away from them and just watch how they approach it.
There's dozens of ways of fishing a river, upstream dries, upstream nymphs, down and across, spiders, the list is endless, and each one has its merits on the day.
If you get chance have a chat with the angler, ask him a few questions politely, most fishermen are very helpful, don't be afraid to ask, we all had to start somewhere.
I mainly fish rivers, but during winter if I fancy a day out I go to my local Stillwater, been doing it for years, but I'm not as comfortable as I am on the river, like ant said there is so much to learn about depth, retrieve rate, finding just where the fish are, it ain't easy, and I often blank while others are catching.
But you'll get loads better with your casting, learning the double haul, and presentation which are all invaluable when you get into the rivers.
There is an article somewhere on here called "Reading Rivers Tracing Trout" it may help you understand where to look on the river, how to approach it, and keep a low profile on the bank to avoid spooking fish.
Always remember some fish are right under your feet, so don't just wade in regardless, I've spooked some very big fish in a few inches of water.
Most of all have fun, relax and enjoy it, it'll all come naturally to you in less time than you think.
S.
 

j j

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Ruddy Nora Ant! That's a fantastic instructional, directional, and wholly informative guide you just gave there. Hat's off to you Sir. :thumbs:

In my wholly stillwater background to river transition I have found it both exciting and difficult. Stepping out into flowing water is a totally different and unnerving experience for the uninitiated, that would be me.

The most striking differences between the two disciplines are the fact you are in flowing water, wading for the first time with fly rod, vest, jacket. This is not what is was when you were a kid in the summer. Thrust into the water in nothing more than you underpants by over excited parents. Was this just me? I digress.

The greatest differences I have experienced are water flowing toward you, water flowing away from you, whilst standing in such water and trying to cast upstream that from a coarse angling upbringing I would never even had considered.
Trying to keep up with the fast approaching line and it's retrieval alone is enough to keep my focus more on the line than the fish.

Still I am looking forward to the coming season, flies tied, one getting older man a Zenith 9' 4# and a new half price Vision Cult 10' 3#.

Trust me I am as nervous as you. Probably more..
 

haggstock

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Dave, don't over-practice. If you can rollcast 25 to 30 feet of line and tippet , pick the same off the water and go into a back cast there is no reason that you can not fish on a river.
You don't have to have a whole raft of skills. Quite simply without bamboozling yourself, you could spend a day on a river fishing just one fly, say a size 16 Griffiths gnat.
Without seeing a rising fish You could start at the tail of a pool and cover the whole pool in a grid. Start 15' from the bank and make a series of 30' casts covering a fan shape., retrieving the line at the same speed as the water flows. When you have done this move 12 feet towards the other bank and repeat. , when you have have your cast reaching the far bank move forward 12 feet and repeat the process the other way. Continue until you have worked up the pool and covered as much fast water at the head of the pool as it is safe to do so.

If you do that you will have a great probability of raising a fish, irrespective of the time of year or the depth of the water. You have as much chance in shin deep water as any other depth. On a big river like the Wharfe that approach could take hours to cover a stretch, but the important thing is you would be observing and learning.

Where I do think river fishing has a bigger challenge is personal safety. Before even thinking about trout, assess the water you are going to fish. How are you going to get in ? how are you going to get out. ? At what point to miss a section because you feel you are approaching your personal wading limits :D. Be aware that rivers can rise very quickly, pick a point on the beat that you can use as a reference and if you see the river going up, get out.

You can spend whatever you want on chest waders, some are better than others but a barbless hook in them, they all leak ! Don't skimp on your boots and studs unless you enjoy swimming. Carry a wading stick , a folding one is ok , it's not the " staff of Moses " , but you can feel your way , check depths etc. In the end though don't rely on any wading stick they are an aid , not a solution . If you wouldn't do it without the stick, don't do it with. If you can tie equipment to you it to you, tie it., polaroids especially :eek:mg: keep your mobile and car keys in a waterproof bag .

To DIY Just find a nice looking stretch of water, have a walk around it and make an assessment then go and buy a day ticket.

At the risk of " incoming" from some on here, without a mate who knows the ropes I'd take my first day on the river with a guide. Their job is to cover all of the daft questions and show you the fast track, even covering how yo move your feet when wading. That way you don't have to buy anything, they will provide all the kit suitable rod etc, then get you fishing. With that under your belt your solo trips will be easier.

Geoff Johnson and Mal Hunter are both within an easy drive of you and can put you onto some good water .
 
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Mr Notherone

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If you want to fish rivers, then fish them. I have never understood this progression of small still waters to reservoirs to stocked rivers to wbt rivers. Get stuck in with what you want to do and enjoy it.

100% agree. The fun of rivers and streams is learning. I don't subscribe to the idea that it's more difficult or somehow it's a "progression", but it is different.

I agree with another post above that emphasises safety. Just as you wouldn't go out in a boat on a reservoir without the appropriate safety kit, don't wade without a good grip underfoot, a staff and a wading belt - and don't take unnecessary risk. The first time you stumble in fast flowing water can be alarming and makes you realise that no fish is worth your life. Take a few precautions and you have a lifetime of enjoyment.
 

taterdu

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Has the first post in this thread been edited? I can't make any sense if it whatsoever. Why is John Norris a **** ?

I suspect our OP may have been 'typing under the influence'?

No, not John Norris :eek:mg: . . . I believe he's referring to another John (Y) who haunts the forum and with whom he's had a bit of a 'spat'.

. . . and if you thought the opening post didn't make a deal of sense . . . don't try post 2!
 
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aunt_maud

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That got me for a while, but a brief search of Daveds' posts soon revealed the true culprit.
 

kituza

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Terry just summed it up - and hi Terry, good to see you're still around!

I was thinking about this thread on my 1st day out this Wednesday on a stream in the Belgian Ardennes. Water was pretty high & fast, & fish were lazy/disinterested until around 1pm, but it's still freezing at nights there so fair enough.

Whatever. Dave, here's my additional tuppence on streams fwiw.

* be prepared to find yourself thanking trees, roots, rocks, weeds, etc for giving you back your fly - out loud, & often.

* take a camera with you as you will discover paradise, and views that most people, be it pedestrians, hikers, or boaters never see. Kingfishers are *******s though; they don't like being photographed.

* beaver & boar damage is a good sign, but just a damselfly or 2 perching on your rod will make you smile.

* delight in your solitude. Hopefully nobody will (or should) see your casting, as on the streams it won't be anything like it's shown in the videos. It's just 'get the fly where it needs to be', so the end justifies the ugly means.

* don't ignore the skinny water; they could be absolutely anywhere, so try it all.

* give it a go, get hooked, and enjoy! :thumbs:


I agree 100% with the previous post. You are not wasting your time as you are gaining proficiency in casting, presentation of the fly, fighting the fish and confidence in your ability to catch but the only way to learn how to, "fish", a river or stream is to do it. By fish I mean reading the water, coping with drift and drag, and learning that the best fish tend to hang out in places where there is a 50/50 chance that your cast will end in a bush, tree or other obstacle. You will also learn to leave a change of dry clothes in the car, how to avoid crabby bovines, discover that eventually all waders leak, that at some point while wading you will discover the slickest surface in the universe, that rivers will eat fly boxes and glasses but you will have a fantastic time while doing so!

Take care

Terry
 

heathenwoods

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Terry just summed it up - and hi Terry, good to see you're still around!

I was thinking about this thread on my 1st day out this Wednesday on a stream in the Belgian Ardennes. Water was pretty high & fast, & fish were lazy/disinterested until around 1pm, but it's still freezing at nights there so fair enough.

Whatever. Dave, here's my additional tuppence on streams fwiw.

* be prepared to find yourself thanking trees, roots, rocks, weeds, etc for giving you back your fly - out loud, & often.

* take a camera with you as you will discover paradise, and views that most people, be it pedestrians, hikers, or boaters never see. Kingfishers are *******s though; they don't like being photographed.

* beaver & boar damage is a good sign, but just a damselfly or 2 perching on your rod will make you smile.

* delight in your solitude. Hopefully nobody will (or should) see your casting, as on the streams it won't be anything like it's shown in the videos. It's just 'get the fly where it needs to be', so the end justifies the ugly means.

* don't ignore the skinny water; they could be absolutely anywhere, so try it all.

* give it a go, get hooked, and enjoy! :thumbs:

This post contains crucial information. Print, cut-out, keep :thumbs:
 
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