How To Fish Stillwaters

January 26th, 2004

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher


Rod and Reels for Float Tubing

By Patricia C. Pothier

The range of offering in rods and reels for fly fishing is incredibly wide, but the most significant favor to consider is the balance (matching) between the rod weight, the reel and weight of the line to be used. Each fly rod is made for a specific weight or range of weight lines. The price of a graphite rod can range from $90 - 500 and of reels from $20-200. For lake fishing with sinking lines you will need a rod that helps you cast your line a maximum distance, against strong winds from a low position in the water. For this type of fishing with sinking lines you will not need to pay as much attention to accuracy in casting as with dry fly fishing. Some outfitters offer a combination graphite fly rod and reel set ranging in price from $150-244 which you will find quite adequate for float tube fishing. For fishing in the strong winds often encountered in large western mountain lakes a 9 or 9 foot rod which takes a 6-7 weight line and in even smaller lakes you might need only an 8 foot rod matched for a 4-5 weight line.

Reels not only need sufficient capacity to hold fly line and backing, but should have a smooth drag to stop large fish. Since you will be needing at least four different types of sinking lines, depending on the depth you intend to fish, you will need extra spools (the exchangeable inner part of the reel that hold the line) for each type of line. Some reels are so relatively inexpensive ($20) you might consider buying a reel for each line you plan to use. This means that when you want to change lines while fishing, you need only exchange the reel instead of taking the spool in and out.

Sinking Lines

To gain maximum distance in casting, it is best to purchase weight forward sinking lines ($35-40). These are lines that are constructed so that the whole line sinks at the same rate. Full sink lines are different from sink tip lines which are basically floating lines with a small sinking front section. Each line needs to have at least 100 yards of Dacron backing material ($5-10) which is attached at one end to the reel spool and on the other end to the fly line. The backing allows you to let a fish run farther than the length of your fly line and also fills up the reel so that the line can be more easily handled. In addition, the backing protects the fly line from wear and tear through being wound too tightly on the spool.

Two of the major brands of weight forward sinking lines are made by Cortland and Scientific Anglers. These two brands use different terminology for their lines and a different range of sink rates...A range of sink rates is given for each type of sinking line because lighter line weights sink slower than heavier weights. For example, an 8 weight Scientific Anglers Wet Cel II line sinks faster than a 4 weight line. Knowing the sink rate of your line enables you to cast and count down your artificial fly to the precise depth you choose to fish. If you are fishing near the bottom at 15 feet and you are using a sinking line with a sink rate of 6 inches per second, when you cast your line, your line and fly will be on the bottom in 30 seconds.

Most lake fishing is either done near the surface in the productive shallows or near the bottom of the lake. The Intermediate, Wet Cel I or Type I line is best for the shallows and the other sinking lines are used dependent on the depth of the lake. If fishing down at 10-20 feet the Wet Cel II or Type II line is used. To fish down deeper, use faster sinking lines to get the fly down where you want it more quickly.

Although these lines are quite durable you do need to protect them from damage. First, you should keep you line clean. Algae from the water coats your line while fishing and builds up through normal use. To remedy this, wash the line with a mild soap and dry with a clean cloth. You can also restore a well used line to its former condition with prepared line conditioner after you have clean it. In between uses store your line on a reel in a place that is not excessively hot or cold. During use avoid: stepping on the line, pinching the line between spool and frame of your reel, casting in such a way that whips in the line, leaving your leader attached to the fly line when storing and allowing exposure to suntan lotion, insect repellents, etc.

In summary, for fishing large western lakes it is recommended that you use a 9 - 9 foot rod with 8-9 weight, weight forward sinking lines with sink rates that range from slow to extra fast. ~ PCP

Continued next time.

Credits: Excerpt from Float Tube Magic By Patricia C. Potheir, published by Frank Amato Publications. We appreciate use permission.

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