Stocked stillwaters are a great place for newcomers to get an introduction to fly fishing and as spring is often the best time to fish such venues there is no better time to take up the sport, below is my Stillwater Trout Fishing Beginners Guide.
Below are my top tips for beginners or even those who have taken an extended break from fly fishing and are looking to return to the sport. I have divided my top 6 tips into the venue, tackle and fly choice.
1. Choose the best venue available!
It sounds obvious but spending a little time researching the best venue in your area is never time wasted. Check out online reports and social media to see which fisheries are producing the best sport. Generally speaking, I have found that the best-managed fisheries are usually the most active on social media and are also the best stocked to provide consistent sport. I have however found it often pays to dig a little deeper and look for positive posts from visiting anglers!
Fishing well-stocked venues always gives you access to better fishing and a greater chance of success. Popular venues are likely to have a higher turnover of fish and as a result, will be stocked more regularly. There is also the benefit that more anglers on the bank give you more opportunity to ask questions and learn from others, most anglers are more than happy to share their successful methods if you ask. There may even be a tackle shop on site to buy the killer fly!
2. Choose a venue with clear water
If possible, I always recommend beginners fish venues with clear water as it gives anglers confidence that fish are seeing patterns on almost every cast. It also allows anglers to experiment freely with different flies and depths without worrying that the fish have simply not seen the fly. Clear water allows you to see the depth of the water and even fish close to the bank. You can also see the contours, weedbeds etc, and make a far more educated guess as to where the fish will be. Finally, when fishing clear water you should also have more confidence to fish smaller flies such as buzzers which on their day can out fish any worm or lure!
3. Stick to a floating fly line
When you are new to fly fishing it is easy to get confused by the numerous different density and sink tip fly lines available. When bank fishing on small stillwaters during the spring I recommend that you stick to a floating line only, particularly if you are only setting up one rod. Using a floating line only takes away the confusion of line choice and allows you to focus on the fishing and try all of the most effective winter methods. Sticking to a floating line allows you to fish dries, nymphs, the bung as well as fish small weighted lures. Fish are rarely very deep in the winter months so keeping it simple is often the best way with fly line selection.
4. Use a quality fluorocarbon
It is not just beginners that sometimes need the benefit of strong leaders. During the spring, the water is usually clear, and combine this with hard fighting fish, light tipper can be a recipe for disaster. Whilst the water is clear you also need to fish relatively fine to maximise your chances. In these situations, a premium fluorocarbon such as Fulling Mill Masterclass is, in my opinion, worth the investment. It will allow you to fish a strong leader whilst maintaining a fine diameter to reduce visibility and give your fly patterns maximum movement on very slow retrieves.
Flies and Methods
5. Fish mobile lure patterns
During winter and into spring, successful anglers usually fish very slow, even when fishing lure patterns. This does create some issues with the presentation as your flies get little or no movement from any retrieve. In order to get as much fish catching action into your patterns as possible choose flies with maximum movement such as apps worms with mobile flexi floss legs or flies tied with natural fur such as zonkers or snake flies. When beginning to learn fly fishing I also recommend you fish a single fly, it makes casting easier, the leader is stronger and as many experts know, it actually catches more fish that a team of flies in many situations!
6. Try the bung method
Whilst unpopular with some, the bung (or indicator) method is great for beginners! Not only does it give you break from casting practice but it can be an extremely effective method for stillwater fishing. Check out these top 5 tips on fishing the bung. It allows the fly to be suspended at a pre-determined depth and fished as static as the wind will allow. If you are looking to move from coarse fishing to fly fishing it will be similar to float fishing and you can apply the same principles of changing depth and location until you get success. When fishing this method, I would stick to weighted blobs and buzzers patterns or small weighted lures and keep changing the depth until you get takes, just remember to strike immediately when the indicator goes under!
Hopefully these tips will help get you started and more importantly get those first few fish in the net. Also, if you are reading this and you are a more experienced angler try to get someone into the sport this coming year, angler numbers are down and we need to not only get more people fishing. I also think we need to stop worrying about condemning methods such as ‘bung’ fishing or egg flies. If this or any other method gets people catching fish and taking up fly fishing it is real bonus to the sport!