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Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing
Column nr. 5, 2017

 Mastering Shallow Slow Fly Waters

Dan Fallon fishing

  As much as I enjoy cold mornings on fast rivers and quick currents! Many of of my best memories were formed on very shallow slow running creeks, streams. Spending time watching and studying before any attempt at catch and release. Edmond Burke 1729-1797 said, "Our patience will achieve more then our force" Lets begin with basic must have equipment and slow shallow water rules for success! First you will never succeed if you stand anywhere near shallow creek edges. Stay well back and watch until you see fish moving or hiding. The lighter fly rod the better, three or four weights work best. Use the most invisable tippits and tie on three or four feet. Depending on what area of the world you live? Tie on the smallest nympth you can buy or tie. Again absolute stealth is the number one tool to effective Catch and Release! Fly fishing in general always requires one to adapt, improvise and over come.

  In the late 1950s I was lucky to have uncles who had friends with large real estate holdings in Nevada and upper California. Near the tiny town of Placerville one summer I stayed on a 50 acre ranch with many small streams and creeks. Every morning my uncle would take me to a shallow creek full of small to mid size trout. Standing well back we watched as the trout darted after mosquitos. Every time we spooked them! We decided to climb a tree and after tying a rope around me for safety dropped ultra small mosquitos down to the slow shallow clear water from 12 feet above with great success. Many years later these tactics worked in the natural wonder Yosemite Park. Near the busy south gate a large pool exists with a healthy Brook Trout population. Along the pool edge tall boulders provide perfect paltforms atop these majestic big rocks making me invisable to quick Brookies.

Vermont Trout

  Fly Fishing Out Of The Box

  On many occassions in my long life carrying fly rods world wide. One never ending mindset has become second nature! If you limit your skills to only the accepted methods of Catch and Release? You are doomed to a low success rate period. I run into the non thinking do what everybody else does gang every season. Usually dressed in shiny new state of art waders equipped with latest gear stumbling along rarely catching many fish. When I approach them and ask, "Excuse me, why are you working this area full of other anglers also not catching many if any fish?" The usual responce is a pathetic 100 yard stare and nervous laugh... When you are lucky to find private or no fly fisher shallow water creeks, streams. First do not go anywhere near the waters edge! Throw you flies far away atleast 25 feet away from water. Work the entire area very carefully then move on. If you do catch one or two fish leave and let the fish resume normal activity it will increase your success.

  In these congested highly populated times one aspect of fishing in general is the general overall need for conformity... No one wants to rock the boat or stand out in any way! I see many examples of this insane herd instinct in contemporary fly fishing venues. Fly fishers bunched up right next to each other is crazy sad to witness. Do your self a favor and seek quiet tranquil water to fly fish. Meadows with no other humans, rivers and streams far away from the maddening crowd are best in this sport. Fly fishing more then any other sport is a solo activity my friends. Not a group or gang sport!

  Shallow Water Presentation

  Everything you have learned about presenting fly patterns upon fast moving rivers and streams means very little when working slow shallow waters. It is likely you will be either far back or high up so it can be tricky indeed! If while your studying slow water you notice resident insects move more slowly as they have less room you have learned lesson one Grasshopper... Let your suface dry fly or sinking nymph move slowly as it has no reason to move quickly. Work from edges outward and back and forth criss crossing. Then simply stop and make the pattern appear to be dying. This can be done buy either spinning the fly or making short jerky moves as if the end is near. You will be replicating the natural movements more precisely while greatly increasing your success my friends. Many fly fishers become habit zombies repeating their presentation moves mindlessly over and over, wrong! Once again think outside your fly vests and become a keen observer as it is the only road to success period!

  True masters of this arcane complex sport have used this mindset with great success. Perhaps this kind of thinking may spill over into other areas of your life? One other possible helping hand can be natural camoflage. Wear hunting camo and add sticks and branches to your outfit making you look more like a tree. I have used a camo fly outfit many times in waters where resident fish can easily see you first, it always works. Many fail to understand even hatchery raised planters have a full compliment of sharp sensory organs from sight to smell. They can feel your heavy feet vibrating and easily see your profile or shadow.

  What Have We Learned?

  Avoid any and all crowds or group herd instinct behavoir or learn to enjoy never catching many fish. Herd instinct is mark of fly fishing looser! Think about climbing trees and climbing boulders for invisable effective pattern presentation. Work flies much slower and precisely then fast water work. If wearing camo and thinking more creatively sounds like too much work to you? Perhaps table tennis or golf may be your best bet Pilgrim?


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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