Fishing in stained to muddy water conditions can be challenging, let me take a few minutes to give you a few pointers that will help save the day. When most folks get to a stream or river that has been blown by heavy rains and has the look of your morning coffee with two creams, they decide to move to better clearer water, why? This type of fishing, once you understand how to fish it, can be very rewarding. When you walk to the stream or river bank in clear water you feel confident that you know where the fish are based on foam lines, current seams and mostly seeing the fish working and feeding. Now when you walk up to the same waters and it is muddy, you have to rely on your intuition and fishing skills to help you catch fish that day. The competition fly fishing teams have to fish what water they are given on that particular day so why can’t the rest of us. See the muddy water and what can come from not going to find clearer water.
The first thing to do is you will need to step up the sizes of your fly choices, going from size 14 to 20 nymphs up to size 2 to 8″s. There are differing thoughts on color choices so why not try a double nymph rig with two completely different color combinations. Yes you will be nymphing in these conditions, there usually just isn’t a dry fly bite. I would use a black or brown nymph and then the other with some variegated color that has a bright yellow in it. The style of nymph depends on the bug life in the waters you fish. Some great examples would be bead head Copper Johns, Stonefly’s, Prince’s, Pheasant Tails, even many of the Czech nymph designs from the competition fishing world.
Second, make sure these flies have lots of weight in or on them. The flies need to be on or as close to the bottom as possible. Thats where these fish will be during these conditions. I tie my own flies and uses many wraps of .025 and .030 lead in the bodies to get the flies down quick. Those that purchase flies will need to get the tungsten beaded flies to help in this aspect. I personally don’t prefer to use some type of split shot to get the flies down. This seems to create a hang up spot on the leader.
Third, learn to fish without a floating strike indicator, the current on the surface is usually different from the current down where the fish are and the forces of current acting against a strike indicator can actually be putting drag on your flies hanging under it. Using just your leader and keeping the flies at various depths using the rod in a high sticking method (refer back to last weeks blog) will give your flies the proper float because the thin leader material isn’t as influenced by the upper water column currents. To help see these fluorocarbon leaders we use in these nymphing rigs, we put a sighter (differing colored section) at the top or middle connection of the leader to assist in detecting the bite.
I hope this weeks tips and tactics will give you a day of fishing instead of a ride to find clearer water or just going back home. The fish are there and willing to be caught you just need to try add some new methods and thinking to your fishing styles.
Until next week, may you have many tightlines and heavy nets.