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Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing
Column nr. 2, 2017


  Fly fishers who once lived the absolute ideal abundant fly waters lifestyle living in the Western United States. Have had a first hand look at the devastation a five year long drought has caused! Generations of fly fishers living in California and Nevada have had full creeks, raging rivers and in some years too much rushing early spring waters. A serious warning severe climate change is here to stay and may get much worse.

  Cold hard evidence with radical changes from Mexico to Alaska mean no debating what’s going on right now... Fisheries have been devastated along with Salmon runs and critical stream, creek, river habitat that will take generations to recover if ever. Having spent all my life roaming fly waters from Asia to Alaska. Watching my favorite fly waters evaporate or become extinct has been a sad ride my friends. Mighty rivers like the famed Feather River or any of the majestic rivers winding through California and Nevada now once again raging beyond belief! I estimate maybe two months before they slow down enough to work effectively? Five drought years demolished wild trout streams in many cases wiping out the resident fish population completely. Now the hammer comes down even harder as the relentless rain and snow this winter broke the long drought. Before and after radical changes in so many ways! Insect life once abundant lost will recover.

  After taking a trip this last week into upper California all rivers are running so high flood stages are near for many. The fish habitat has been taking a beating as accumulated brush, fallen tree limbs and stream edges are erased.

  It would please me greatly to speculate this long drought ha ended. No one I have spoken with has any idea, nor do scientists. As all of you highly educated well read fly fishers understand. We are truly on and in the front lines of this historic radical change in weather behavior. That said, so how do we contend with and do the best we can to enjoy this sport?

  Putting on my Oracle Of Delphi hat we have many choices in regard to mental attitude and coping mechanisms. Water habitat lost is history. So lets get on with the new reality of waiting for now rushing raging waters to subside enough to work. Dry fly action will be especially tough. But, late summer slow water will compensate for early season frustration.

  If you have not practiced working streamers at different depths and speeds? This tried and true fast water set up is easy to learn and master. Depending where you live usually local guides can give you tips and samples of streamers that work best. If the edges of your favorite fly waters are rich in fallen trees and brush a habitat where common mice often dwell.

  Working a mouse can be highly successful if presented properly. Mice stimulate hard hits that will thrill any fly fisher who has never learned how to move a mouse so its tail creates a realistic wake. I highly recommend learning mouse presentation a fine tool for any accomplished fly fisher to master. Mice or streamer? Raging early spring waters require extreme caution for all fly fishers brave bold or timid...

  When streams and rivers run fast and deep more accidents are a sad fact. I have nearly drowned several times in deep Alaska over the years. In those moments it was not because of risky behavior. It was more natural causes like slipping on slick rocks or not seeing shaky river edges. Stupid mistakes that almost cost me the ranch when I look back. On two occasions guides grabbed me before currents and fast water took me under and away. I still recall falling in and feeling my waders full and too heavy to move. Then looking up and seeing muted Sun light as ii was rushed into deeper possible fatal depths.

  Hard lessons learned and fear hard to explain being so helpless and feeling ignorant for not being more careful. My most vivid memory under fast water is the sight of my young guides hand and arm reaching down to save my life. A sight never forgot my fly fisher friends.


  First safety has to be number one consideration regardless of age or experience. Never attempt working fast moving fly waters alone. It is suicide to think you can always save yourself if tragedy rears its head. Bring a partner even a non fly fishing partner. Use a flotation vest and carry a location beeper if you can. Another good idea is bringing rope along. If your fishing alone which I never recommend tie your rope to sturdy tree before wading into quick water. Always wear non slip wading boots of high quality. Never venture into rapid currents stay in the slow water. If you’re a seasoned nymph pattern being? You must use many applied bead weights to get your rig close as possible to the bottom.

  Your odds are greatest near the bottom as fish rarely venture near the surface when water is moving fast. They hide away to save energy. One universal truth in regard to fly fishing that applies to fast or slow water. Trout love the bottom or as close to bottom as possible. Again surface dry fly action in early spring quick waters almost impossible. Be careful.


Written by Dan Fallon 2017

For Dan Fallon's earlier and later columns;
visit the table of contents

Read Dan Fallons biography and contact info


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