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ORVIS – Dry Fly Tactics – Dry Fly Accuracy Pt. 2

In this Pt.2, we will show you how to spot and stalk a trout on a small stream. We will go over small stream specific casting techniques so you can make an accurate presentation in a tight space. Remember, small streams can often hold large fish, so these tips can be extremely valuable in trying to figure out how to fool a big fish in a tiny creek.

For more tips to up your fly fishing skills and knowledge, please visit our other online learning resources. “ORVIS – Dry Fly Tactics – Dry Fly Accuracy Pt. 2″ is a video presented by The Orvis Company. In this installment, Amelia Jensen guides viewers through the process of spotting and stalking trout on small streams. She explains the specific casting techniques required for accurate presentations in tight spaces, which can be very valuable when trying to capture big fish in small creeks. Small streams often hold large fish, making these tips essential for fly fishing enthusiasts. For more expert tips and resources to enhance your fly fishing skills and knowledge, be sure to explore our other online learning materials.

Sight fishing on small spring creeks is an exhilarating experience in fly fishing. However, spotting the trout can be challenging due to shadows and glare. Jensen advises maintaining height and scanning upstream while moving slowly and cautiously. To successfully fool feeding trout, finding a suitable casting lane can be difficult, but the most effective cast is a modified bow and arrow. Properly loading the rod ensures accurate casting, and maintaining the high position of the rod tip is crucial to avoid spooking the fish. Line control is essential, even though limited by the leader. Be prepared to sweep sideways on your hook set to reduce drag, and take care to avoid hitting trees with your rod. Once the fish is on the line, it is important to keep the rod low and maintain pressure to maneuver it effectively. Using 3x at minimum is recommended, and be ready for a chase downstream as these fish are typically strong.

Spotting and Stalking Trout on Small Streams

Difficulty of spotting trout in small spring creeks

Spotting and stalking trout in small spring creeks can be a challenging task. These streams are often narrow, shallow, and surrounded by dense vegetation, making it difficult to locate the fish. Additionally, trout in small streams are typically wary and easily spooked, adding another layer of complexity to the task.

Importance of maintaining height and scanning upstream

When attempting to spot trout in small streams, it is crucial to maintain height and scan upstream. By positioning yourself slightly above the water level, you can get a better vantage point and spot the fish more easily. Scanning upstream allows you to anticipate the trout’s position and movements, increasing your chances of success.

Slow and cautious approach

To avoid alerting the trout, it is important to adopt a slow and cautious approach. Move stealthily and minimize any unnecessary noise or sudden movements. The quieter and more inconspicuous you can be, the better your chances of getting close to the trout without spooking them.

Staying in the shade and behind trees and grass

Trout are particularly sensitive to changes in light and shadow. To increase your chances of spotting and approaching them unnoticed, it is advisable to stay in the shade and use trees, grass, or other vegetation as natural cover. By blending into the surroundings, you can avoid catching the fish’s attention and improve your chances of a successful encounter.

Finding a casting lane

Once you have located a trout and assessed the ideal casting position, it is important to find a suitable casting lane. Small streams often have limited space for casting due to the surrounding vegetation. Look for openings between trees and bushes where you can make your cast without getting snagged. Planning your casting lane ahead of time will help reduce the chances of your line getting tangled and spooking the fish.

Modified bow and arrow DAP casts

In tight quarters with limited space for a traditional backcast, the modified bow and arrow DAP (Direct Aerial Presentation) casts can be extremely useful. This casting technique involves pulling back the line and holding it with your non-dominant hand before executing a forward cast. The modified bow and arrow DAP casts allow for precise and accurate presentations in small streams, making them a valuable tool for successful fishing.

Rod positioning and line control

When fishing in small streams, proper rod positioning and line control are crucial for a successful encounter with a trout. Keep your rod tip low to the water and parallel to the surface. This positioning allows you to have better control over the line and minimizes the chances of it tangling in vegetation or getting snagged. By keeping the rod low, you also reduce the risk of excessive splashing that could alert the trout.

Sideways hook set to avoid tree collisions

One common challenge in small stream fishing is avoiding collisions with overhanging trees. To minimize the risk of getting your line snagged or tangled in branches, it is recommended to use a sideways hook set. Instead of setting the hook in an upward motion, which can increase the chances of a collision, set the hook horizontally in a sideways motion. This technique helps keep the line away from obstacles and improves your chances of successfully landing the trout.

Fighting Trout in Small Streams

Benefits of keeping the rod low

Keeping the rod low during the fight with a trout in a small stream offers several advantages. Firstly, it allows you to maintain better control over the fish, as the low rod angle reduces leverage and makes it harder for the trout to escape. Secondly, a low rod position helps prevent the line from contacting vegetation or other potential obstacles, reducing the risk of breakage or tangles. By keeping the rod low, you can maximize your chances of successfully landing the trout.

Horizontal or angled positioning

When fighting a trout in a small stream, it is beneficial to position the rod horizontally or at an angle. This positioning helps in maneuvering the fish away from potential obstacles such as submerged logs or underwater vegetation. By angling the rod, you can guide the fish towards an open area where it is easier to land it successfully. This technique requires finesse and control, but it greatly increases the chances of bringing the trout to the net.

Keeping the leader and tip clear of cover

The leader and tip of the fly rod are particularly susceptible to getting entangled in vegetation or cover in small streams. To avoid breakage or losing the fish, it is essential to keep the leader and tip clear of any potential obstacles. By exerting careful control over the fish’s movements and maneuvering it away from cover, you can reduce the risk of the leader getting caught and increase the likelihood of a successful landing.

Using appropriate rod strength (3x at minimum)

Choosing the appropriate rod strength is crucial when fishing in small streams. A rod with sufficient strength is necessary to handle the strong and agile trout commonly found in these waters. It is generally recommended to use a rod strength of at least 3x, although the optimal strength can vary depending on the specific conditions and size of the fish. Using an appropriate rod strength ensures that you have the necessary power to control the trout and bring it to the net.

Maintaining pressure and chasing downstream

Trout in small streams are known for their agility and strength. To successfully land a trout in such challenging conditions, it is important to maintain constant pressure and avoid giving the fish any slack. If the trout makes a sudden run downstream, it is crucial to chase after it while maintaining tension on the line. By doing so, you limit the trout’s freedom of movement and exhaust it more quickly, increasing your chances of safely landing the fish.

Expectation of strong fish

When fishing on small streams, it is important to set realistic expectations regarding the strength and fighting ability of the trout. These fish inhabit environments that provide them ample opportunity to develop strength and resilience. As a result, it is common to encounter trout that are far more powerful and determined than their size would suggest. By recognizing and respecting the strength of these fish, you can be better prepared to match their energy and successfully land them.

ORVIS - Dry Fly Tactics - Dry Fly Accuracy Pt. 2


Spotting and stalking trout on small streams can be a challenging yet rewarding endeavor. By employing stealth, caution, and proper fishing techniques, anglers can increase their chances of spotting and approaching the elusive trout found in these waters. Once hooked, the fight becomes a test of skill and finesse, requiring careful rod positioning, line control, and careful maneuvering of the fish to avoid obstacles. While small stream fishing demands a higher level of technique and adaptability, the satisfaction of landing a strong and vibrant trout in such intimate surroundings is unparalleled. With practice and patience, anglers can master the art of fishing on small streams and forge unforgettable memories on these hidden gems of the angling world.

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