Fly fishing amidst stunning scenery in small mountain streams is like poetry in motion. The magnificent scenery, plentiful trout, and pleasant climate away from the city's hustle and bustle, making for a fun-filled fishing vacation. But you need to consider a few things if you’ve not fished in a mountains stream before.
Wild trout are fast and wary. They have evolved heightened senses and escape maneuvers as they have plenty of predators that eat them. They can hide in the tiniest of spaces and are challenging to catch. You need to move cautiously to avoid spooking them.
If you are new to fly fishing the mountain streams, the seven pro tips to fly fishing a mountain stream in the following section will make a world of difference-
1. Equipment selection for Fly Fishing a Mountain Stream
Gear and equipment selection is the foremost consideration when it comes to fly fishing small mountain streams. A short light action rod is perfect for small mountain streams. But if you are fishing bigger water a 9ft 5 or 6 weight is ideal.
Take along a small selection of nymphs, dry flies and streamers that can be easily carried. You can bring the other fishing gear in a small hip bag or a fishing vest. This will ensure that you will have quick and easy access to the equipment. You’ll also have space for a drink or a snack. Also, don’t forget to carry the best fishing pliers you can lay your hands on. Some multi-tool fishing pliers are extremely handy for de-barbing hooks and removing the fly after you have captured a trout.
2. Fly selection for Fly Fishing a Mountain Stream
A trout eats aquatic life such as insects, crawdads, and other fish. As a fly fishermen you must pay particular attention to the insects or hatches that may occur in that area because those are the ones that the trout will be feeding on. For a quick introductory lesson on fly selection check out our video below.
Flies that imitate the insects indigenous to the place where you are fishing are always a great choice. You must also check and comply with any regulations that are in force where you are fly fishing. Some states only allow two flies on a rig, so check before you start using a 3 fly drop shot rig.
3. The Best Times to Fly Fish a Mountain Stream
The best time to fish during summer months is early morning and the hours just before the dark. This is known as the hour of power. The hour just after sunrise and just before dark. That’s when the fish are feeding actively. However, don’t forget to fish in during the midday too. Many fly fishermen have reported success while fishing in the afternoons. Also the time of the year is important as well. If you look at this graph below, it shows what time of day is most succesful during each month of the year.
4. Reading the Water when Fly Fishing Mountain Streams
Your ability to read the water where you plan to fish is critical. Fish usually congregate in areas that provide the maximum amount of food without expending too much energy. Knowing these areas will give you a good day’s fishing. Fish often hide out behind obstructions such as rocks and other debris.
They like areas that have an overhead cover. Sections of a stream with an overhanging branch or a fallen log are likely candidates. Pools or holes in shady areas that have low water flow rate also tend to hold fish. During the feeding hours (early or late in the day), fish lay in wait for prey in fast-flowing riffles typically found above a pool or a run.
5. The Approach
It would help if you always worked upstream. This gives you the advantage of approaching the trout from the rear without spooking them. Some fishermen use extreme stealth methods like crawling on hands and knees to reach the pool! However, simply crouching and avoiding jerky movements will be enough. Plan a course that lets you get to the water’s edge to cast without throwing a shadow on the water.
6. The importance of solid presentation
A solid presentation is the difference between catching fish or going home empty-handed. When casting, the fly shouldn’t create a splash. Any unnatural splash will scare away the fish. Cast slightly quartered downstream. This will let the lure drift naturally to where you think the fish are hiding. Try to cover as much water as you can to entice as many fish as possible.
7. Quickly Cover a Pool
When you get to a pool in the stream, cover all the likely spots as quickly as you can. In many cases, food is scarce. If a brook trout strikes, it'll attack as soon as it spots the lure or bait. Multiple casting in the exact location is a waste of time. If you don't get any strikes, head over to the next pool before the feeding hour ends.
To sign off
The above section of pro tips will be a good starter if you are going fly fishing in the mountains for the first time. However, nothing beats experience. You’ll develop a sort of a sixth sense the more you fish in the mountains.
You’ll become better at reading the water and honing other techniques to fish better. Above all, enjoy your day out in the mountains. Being one with nature and pitting your skills against the wary trout is the ultimate experience that all anglers crave.
About the Author
Matthew Bernhardt, a third-generation Coloradan, grew up at the forefront of the state’s fly-fishing revolution, enjoying time on the water, side by side with experienced guides and lifelong anglers.
By combining his passion for fly-fishing with input from other experienced fly-fishers and guides and his fine arts degree from Colorado State University, Matthew spent five years carefully developing the Drifthook Fly Fishing System, built to help every angler catch more trout.
When he’s not spending time with his wonderful family, you’ll find him out on the water catching MONSTER trout, and he anxiously looks forward to the day when his kids are old enough to join him there.