There has been an ongoing discussion on one
of the fly tying lists about fly colors.
Questions are being raised about how colors
are affected by the turbidity of the water,
the angle of the sun and the depth they are
being fished at.
There have been a few articles in fishing
magazines lately about this also. I know that
I fish differently when the water has more color
to it. I find that I fish shallower in the water
column. I also tend to fish more in the shallower
My reasoning is that the fish will go shallower
because they cannot be seen. I find that I catch
a lot of fish in two feet of water or less. I use
flies with no weight and a floating line. I try to
cast the fly so that it lands right next to the
shore. I catch several trees and bushes every time
I do this. I move the fly very slowly. I vary the
retrieve from strip and pause to a steady retrieve
until I find out what the fish like. I also try to
keep the fly in the top foot of the water column.
Many times I can see the bulge of water as the fish
takes the fly. The fish are not in schools at this
time so it is catch one and move a little to get to
the next one. Most of the ponds I fish in are shallow
enough that I have a wide area to cast over. This
allows me to fish many places without moving the
canoe. I think the fish are cruising through these
areas. By casting around I can, at times, catch several
fish from the same general area. I do have to wait
a while before another fish comes in.
I also fish out over the deeper water. I experimented
with a few flies this year for this fishing. As I
wrapped the thread down the shank of the hook, I tied
in a very thin piece of foam. I wanted to see if I
could make the flies suspend a little bit more. Some
worked better than others did. I think I will have to
vary the amount of foam depending on what materials
the flies are tied out of. I am still very early in
this process so I have no advice to give, but to try it.
I would anchor over water from eight to 12 feet
deep. I would fan cast around the canoe. I would
retrieve the flies very slowly. Most of the time
the fly had to move at least ten feet before a
fish would take it. Many times it was farther
than that. The more turbid the water the farther
the fly had to move. It did not matter if it was
a bright or dark fly.
What I think is happening is that the fish see
either the fly or the movement and slowly come
up to see what is going on. With the fly moving
slowly it gives them a chance to see it and slowly
move up, without expending a lot of energy for
something they might not catch. I found that if
I moved the fly too fast, I would not catch any
fish. I would move the fly an inch or two and then
let it pause for a time period, up to about ten
seconds. I let the fish tell me how long to make
Here in Iowa it is legal to have two lines in the
water. I would cast out two flies about four feet
apart and bring them back at about the same rate.
For anyone watching me do this it must have been
an ugly experience. I had line laying in the bottom
of the canoe and had to wash the lines every time
I did this. I had the rod against the side of the
canoe and stripped the line from between two of the
guides and not at the bottom near the reel. When I
hooked a fish, I had to hold the line against the
rod and pull the previously retrieved line through
the rest of the guides, pick up the rod and fight
the fish. A real picnic if two fish hit at the same
time. I told you it was ugly.
I would alternate the casts on each side to see if
a bright or dark fly worked better. By keeping the
fly in the top foot or so of the water column I found
that it did not make much difference in the color. I
did find that flies that had marabou for the tail or
a wing seemed to do better. I am guessing this is
because there was more movement.
This is something that I am going to spend more
time on next summer. I am going to try this while
the water is clearer in the spring. Hopefully I
might be able to see a little more of what the
fish are doing.
If you have any experiences or thoughts about
this please let me know. Or, as my wife would
say, straighten me out.
Hope you can get out on the water. ~ Rick