Many people start out fly fishing in a local stream or river and never think about heading to a quiet lake to employ some stillwater fly fishing methods. Others are the exact opposite, always fishing in stillwater. When either group finds themselves in the foreign situation, it’s good to have the opposite skills. Now, when a lifelong fly fisherman finds oneself vacationing on the edge of a lake, it’s good for one to have some basic knowledge of stillwater fly fishing and its methods:
Find the Best Spot
If you are new to stillwater fly fishing, chances are you are new to the area and/or body of water where you are trying it out for the first time. So, ask people you see. Ask the local bait and tackle store person. Ask the guy when you get your permit to fish on the lake. Ask the other guys getting ready and heading out from the same launch point. People probably won’t hesitate to tell you where the good spots are. They can tell you’re the new guy, so you are really no threat to the experienced fishers on that lake anyway.
Case the Area
When you pick one out of the spots suggested by everyone, observe before you jump in. Try to get the lay of the water, spots that could hold fish, foliage that will snag your hook, places to anchor a boat. Get a good idea of the distance and make sure your line is capable of meeting the demands. If not, find a better vantage point.
Cast the Area
Once you know what you need, set up your line and rod and cast out toward the banks where it is likely some fish will be caught or just resting in the foliage. Make sure your line is going out as far and deep as you want it. Cast all around you, turning 10 degrees each time until you have done a complete 360 degree turn. Vary the length and speed of your casts until you see what is effective. If you see any rises or falls in the water, you can send a fly in that direction as it may be a fish searching for prey near the surface. If nothing is biting, change your rig, or the size or shape of your fly. If it’s still not working, move to the next recommended spot and start over.
If you are used to rushing waters and fast moving boats, stillwater may seem a little frustrating or painfully slow. But if you take care to be methodical, you will get to know this new body of water and that many fish are right in front of you, as soon. As you stop trying to cast far and fast, you might find a short slow cast nearby can work the best. You may have to try the same spot for hours until you get used to such quiet and subtle signs that you would never need to know on a rushing river where fish are jumping through the currents and practically into your vessel.
Once you start getting bite and catching fish in this new way, you might be converted to this new more peaceful fishing or you might just keep it in your repertoire for next time a chance arises. Either way, you have added to your skill set and maybe have gotten some dinner too.