Thursday, 22 March 2012

Low Water Tactics

A friend of mine asked "what would your tactics be for low water at this time of year?" I thought that I might as well answer as a blog post for all to see.

Well first of all I'd be realistic with my expectations. You're never going to catch as many fish in low water as a river with a bit extra in it. Avoiding the blank may be as good as you can hope for, but it's all good experience. As they say, a bad days fishing is better than a good day at work.


I'd head for sections of river with a bit of cover, tree lined and with well defined pools. In summer, search out the faster flowing sections, but right now the river will still be cold and oxygen levels good so the fish should be spread out.

I would almost certainly adopt a dry fly only approach, or maybe a duo set-up in faster areas. In low flows detecting a take to a nymph is very difficult. If you know the river you will know where the fish are - they won't have moved. If you don't know the river read the water. Then stand back and watch. The fish will show themselves at some point. Be patient and approach very carefully. Take time to get into position using any available cover. Remember, you may be fishing to avoid the blank so it's worth doing things slowly, especially if you can see a fish.

Lengthen your leader (minimum 13') and use a fine tippet, 6X maximum, possibly 7X or 8X. You may need to cast slightly longer so as not to risk spooking fish by wading too close. De-greasing your tippet will help too.

Use imitative, sparsely dressed flies; CDC is particularly good. At this time of year you are bound to see Large Dark Olives and midges. If you are really lucky you might see March Browns (see my last post). As we move into April, the Grannom, a small grey sedge should make an appearance, particularly downstream of the headwaters, say mid to upper river. A small (18) CDC Sedge is a good imitation.

Position yourself so you are casting up and across to fish if possible, wade carefully.
And that is pretty much it. You just need to persevere!

All flies are available on my website: http://www.yorkshire-dales-flyfishing.com/flies.htm