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ORVIS – Dry Fly Tactics – Casting to Trout in Backwaters

Backwater locations in a rover or creek can present a challenge to you as a fly fisherman. Often, the trout in these areas are cruising instead of holding, making it difficult to anticipate their movements. Additionally, some of these side channels are often obstructed with woody debris and vegetation, making the actual fly cast the most challenging part of the process.

Dave and Amelia Jensen are here to offer you more Tips to improve your chances of catching trout in these complex situations. It is crucial to maintain patience in these scenarios because even the slightest mistake can startle the entire backwater area.

If you’re interested in more fly fishing instruction and tactics for success, please visit our other online learning resources. ORVIS – Dry Fly Tactics – Casting to Trout in Backwaters is a video produced by The Orvis Company that provides valuable insights and techniques for fly fishermen facing the challenge of backwater locations in rivers or creeks. These areas often pose difficulties due to the unpredictable movement of cruising trout and the obstacles created by woody debris and vegetation. Dave and Amelia Jensen, renowned fly fishing experts, share their tips to help anglers catch trout in these tricky situations. The video emphasizes the importance of patience in order to avoid spooking the entire backwater area with even the slightest mistake. For further instruction and tactics for success in fly fishing, viewers are encouraged to explore the other online learning resources offered by The Orvis Company.

Backwaters are often overlooked by anglers who focus on the main river’s pockets, riffles, and runs. However, there are two key indicators that suggest the presence of larger trout in these seemingly lifeless backwaters. Firstly, if a backwater is connected to the main stream or a side deep channel, or if there is any depth of water waste deeper as escape cover, it is likely to hold good trout. Anglers are advised to take ten minutes out of their day to find a concealed location and observe the water, as one of the best trout of the day may appear during this time. In small creeks, it is recommended to stay low and patiently wait for the trout to cycle through. When casting, it is important to avoid unnecessary movements and make a quiet and precise cast to ensure a successful catch. The video offers helpful guidance for both small creeks and larger rivers, emphasizing the importance of choosing the right spot and remaining still to avoid spooking the fish. Timing the cast and allowing the fish to come within the casting distance is crucial for success in these tight and intimate quarters.

ORVIS - Dry Fly Tactics - Casting to Trout in Backwaters

Finding Backwater Locations

When searching for backwater locations for trout fishing, it is important to consider two key factors: whether the location is connected to the main stream or a side deep channel, and the depth of water and the availability of escape cover. Backwaters connected to the main stream or side deep channels provide a constant flow of water, making it an ideal habitat for trout. Additionally, these areas often offer deeper water and more escape cover, such as submerged logs or overhanging vegetation, which provides a sense of security for the trout.

Observing the Backwater

Before you start actively fishing in a backwater, take some time to observe the area. Look for signs of trout movement, such as rings on the water’s surface, splashes, or shadows. Trout are known to be cautious and will often hide beneath cover such as overhanging banks or fallen trees, so it’s important to keep a watchful eye for any subtle signs of their presence.

Approaching Small Creeks

Approaching small creeks where trout tend to gather requires a cautious and strategic approach. Stay low and wait patiently for the trout to cycle – moving between feeding positions along the creek. This allows you to observe their behavior and plan your casting accordingly. Have a pre-plan for casting in mind, considering factors such as the position of the trout, the direction of the current, and potential obstructions that may affect your cast. It’s crucial to make any movements only when the fish is far away to avoid startling them.

Casting in Small Creeks

When casting in small creeks, it’s important to adapt your casting style to the tight quarters. Consider using a bow and arrow or an adapted style cast to minimize the chances of your line getting tangled in overhanging branches or vegetation. Another key aspect to successful casting in small creeks is allowing the fish to fully eat the fly. Due to the limited space, trout may take longer to engulf the fly. Patience is key here, so resist the temptation to strike too early.

Observing Larger Rivers

Observing larger rivers when fishing for trout in backwater areas presents its own set of challenges. To get a good view of the slack water area where trout tend to congregate, find a high point or an elevated position. This will give you a better vantage point to survey the water and the trout’s movements. Wait patiently for one trout to show itself, as their behavior can often be an indicator of the entire group. Taking the time to observe and analyze their behavior can greatly enhance your chances of success.

Casting in Larger Rivers

When casting in larger rivers, it’s crucial to hold your position and avoid unnecessary movement. This is especially important in shallower areas, as even the slightest disturbance can spook the trout and make them wary. Additionally, be mindful of the water’s clarity and avoid stirring up mud or sand that could alert the trout to your presence. Time your cast carefully, waiting for the trout to be within casting distance and in a position where you have control.


Backwater fishing for trout can be a rewarding endeavor if approached with patience and observation. By taking the time to find backwater locations that are connected to the main stream or side deep channels and offer sufficient depth and escape cover, you are setting yourself up for success. observing the backwater and looking for signs of trout movement will give you valuable insights into their behavior and help you plan your approach.

When approaching small creeks, remember to stay low, wait for the trout to cycle, and have a pre-plan for casting. Adapt your casting style to the tight quarters and allow the fish to fully eat the fly before striking. When observing larger rivers, find a high point and wait for one trout to show, as their behavior often reflects the group. Hold your position, avoid stirring up mud, and time your cast carefully for maximum effectiveness.

In conclusion, backwater fishing for trout requires patience, observation, and strategic casting. By being patient and observant, planning your casting locations, and waiting for the right moment, you can greatly increase your chances of success. Make accurate and stealthy casts, and remember to enjoy the process and the beauty of fishing in backwater locations. Happy fishing!

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