July 2015 Fly Fishing Report: Small Streams


Authors note: Although my book “Instinctive Fly Fishing” covers many ways to catch a trout I somehow didn’t mention fishing the tiny streams which are so numerous in New Mexico. So here is a new chapter from the next edition.

Summer is the time to get high into the mountains and escape not only the heat—but also each other. The Land of Enchantment is blessed with thousands of miles of rivulets with various subspecies of trout. Few people bother fishing them, as some streams are just a foot wide—and the trout not nearly a foot long. But if you are an angler who enjoys immersion as part of the fly fishing day, you can have many happy times streamside if you fish these creeks.

Small streams are easy going as you don’t have to worry about techniques. You tie on a size 14 or 16 dry fly and fish upstream. That’s it. Don’t fret about the fly choice as these trout have to eat whatever comes by–and since that is often something floating on the surface, dry flies are all that’s required. In fact, edit your fancy fishing vest to what fits in a shirt pocket. (Take a backpack with water, food, flashlight, matches, cell phone, GPS, map and rain jacket.)

Once you hike in a bit and get fishing, deciphering why you are luckless ain’t rocket science. Cause if conditions are good and you are not catching fish it is for one reason–the trout saw you coming. So for the next pool be sure and get your profile down lower, hide behind something, or fish from a little farther back.

This type of fishing is usually done best solo but if you have company be sure that you don’t spook each other’s fish. Leap frog around each other but be sure to walk far enough around your fishing mate so that you don’t spook her fish. Then mark the spot you started by putting something noticeable; I like to use a $100 dollar bill pinned to a branch—it’s yet to be left behind as trash.

A shorter rod might be better than your standard 9’ stick. But if brush is especially quarrelsome use the long rod and dangle the fly a few inches from the end, then maneuver the fly through the brush and “dap” it on the surface. (If you really want to have fun with this, see if you can get the trout to jump clear out of the water for the fly by ‘hovering’ it.) You will need an ultra-short and heavy leader and get ready for action cause no other fly fisher has the audacity to fish these spots.

Another tool in one’s arsenal of short range casts (which are usually way more important than long-range casts) is the bow and arrow. Use a length of line a little shorter than the rod, then grab hold of the fly at the hook bend. Bend the rod just so…then let ‘er rip. But be careful not to hook your finger. (You can figure this out right? I don’t want to be sued.) On second thought … you might want to try this “cast” at home with a real dull hook for starters.

by Taylor Streit

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