Orvis Fly Fishing
How Do I Fish Dry Flies On Small Streams?
Dry-fly fishing on a small stream is a unique and special experience. Whether you’re bushwhacking a brook trout stream in Maine or scrambling down into a rugged cutthroat creek in Montana, small streams can transport you back to when you first discovered the joys of fly fishing and fell in love with our sport.
Just about anywhere across our well-watered globe has some tiny streams that exist under the radar and are called home by some anglers—and by plenty of trout. Because these fish are wild, beautiful, and willing, a day spent chasing them with dries can reinvigorate the heart and soul of even the most frustrated angler.
To make your next small-stream trip more successful, here are a few things to keep in mind:
The right gear
Because smaller waters typically mean less food is available, the fish that live on them are very opportunistic. To survive, they can’t be picky. Instead, they need to pounce on whatever food floats their way. Because of this, the gear you need for small streams differs from what you would bring to a big river.
Unlike big waters, where you may find dozens of fish in a single area and then spend a few hours working them, small-stream fishing means taking a few casts and moving on. Be prepared to walk a while to find likely looking spots. There may be areas completely void of fish, like super shallow riffles. Just keep moving and try to locate a spot that has significant depth change and enough cover to support life. Because the water you need to cover is so small, you can cast into every likely looking spot to see if it holds fish.
You’ll find fish in all those places they should live: Along current seams, behind and in front of sizeable boulders or obstructions, hiding in woody debris, near undercut banks, and around pools. On small streams, fish will also work themselves into small places. Fish these spots diligently and you’ll surprise yourself time after time with the trout they can hold. Get your big, bushy fly tight to the banks and stuffed in among the debris. Above all else, enjoy your time spent on the water simplifying the art of fly fishing.
There’s always one
Most of the time, small streams equal small fish. That said, there’s always the possibility of finding something bigger. Every stream is a kingdom and every kingdom has king. If you spend enough time on small streams, you’re sure to catch one of these royal-sized fish.
Fish the stream within
The rewards of a day spent fishing a small stream with dry flies is in the beauty of the fish and the solitude of a having a jewel-like stretch of water all to yourself. When you’re in a wild place and surrounded by wild fish, you have a chance to connect with nature in a way that will remind you of what makes fly fishing for trout such a deeply satisfying was way to spend a day and reinvigorate the spirit that runs inside of you.
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