August Fishing Forecast

Smoky Mountains
The Gorge

Smoky Mountains

We had a pretty good July in the Smokies. As one would expect, most of the productive fishing was in the higher elevations. Most of my time was spent in the backcountry, and for those willing to walk a ways, fishing was usually good! A big rain system dumped a ton of water on us the weekend of the 20th and we had to cancel a few trips, but a wonderful cool front followed and brought very mild temperatures for a few days.

August should mirror July but likely without the rainfall. August is usually dryer and probably a little hotter on average. Again, expect more activity up high and on smaller streams. Terrestrials are still the main fare for trout flies.

Clinch River

We saw a little bit of good water on the Clinch in July but not much. This year’s rainfall has kept the dam churning. We have, however, seen a recent change in that trend and are beginning to get better flows. Hopefully that will continue into August.

If so, you’ll likely see better water in the morning and early afternoon. Don’t expect to see much in the way of hatches except for midges. I’d tie on a dark Zebra Midge as small as you dare to go!

June Fishing Forecast

Little River GSMNP Tennessee
Little River

Smoky Mountains

The Smokies have been fishing great and that should continue into June. The biggest concern right now is water levels. After a wet and wild spring, we haven’t seen rain in the mountains for over two weeks and the streams are starting to show it. However, the weather forecast for the first week of June shows a little better chance for precipitation so hopefully we can get back on track.

Lower elevations will likely fish pretty well through the first half of the month, but as water temperatures continue to warm, expect the best fishing conditions in the mid to higher elevations, particularly by the latter part of the month.

We should continue to see sporadic hatches of Little Yellow Sallies, Light Cahills, Sulphurs and tan caddis. Larger golden stones are still hatching at night but fish are sometimes still looking for them in the early morning. Also start looking for Isonychia nymphs to start moving around toward the end of the month. But terrestrials will be the main course from now until fall with trout looking for beetles, ants, inchworms and the like.

Clinch River

May is often my favorite month on the Clinch but heavy water releases left it largely unfishable for most of the month. Water releases have started to relax now and it’s looking like June could be a good month.

We’ll hopefully still see some Sulphurs hatching in the late morning and afternoon through most of the month. Of course, midges are abundant 365 days a year and will be the fly choice most of the time in June. There are many patterns that will work, but it’s tough to beat a standard black Zebra Midge.

Flies: The Hidden Terrestrials

Soft Hackle Ant Fly Pattern
Soft hackle ant

We often hear about the importance of fishing terrestrials in the summer months. Out west, the conversation usually focuses on hoppers. Around here, we talk more about beetles, ants, and inchworms.   Regardless, there are a number of land-based insects from beetles, ants and hoppers to cicadas, bees and black flies that find their way into the water during the summer months.

Just the other day on a guide trip, a customer caught a brook trout that had a mouth full of small beetles. The fish had obviously been very recently gorging on them. But there wasn’t a single beetle visible on the surface of that pool. We didn’t see ants, inchworms, or any other terrestrial, either. However, if you used a bug seine in that same pool, you would get an entirely different picture.

The fact is these land-based insects are not particularly good swimmers. Most of them, particularly ants, beetles and inchworms, briefly attempt to swim on the surface of the water but soon are caught by currents and swept below the surface.   But nearly every fisherman who fishes terrestrials, fishes them on the surface… and for good reason. Nearly every fly shop or fly manufacturer almost exclusively sells topwater terrestrial patterns. And most of these are constructed of foam or some other highly buoyant material to make the fly ride high on the water.

You can certainly catch plenty of trout on these patterns and have a blast doing it. But you are missing out on A LOT of fish. If you are a fly tier, try tying a few ants with a dubbed body and a hen feather rather than foam and hackle from a rooster neck. Tie some beetles without the high-vis sighter on the back. Instead add a few wraps of lead wire. If you don’t tie flies, place a split shot above your favorite terrestrial pattern next time you go fishing.

A great way to fish them in pocket water is with a straight-line nymphing technique. Allow them to swing at the end of the drift. In pools, fish them a few feet under a strike indicator. Or tie on one of those big, buoyant foam hoppers and drop a submerged beetle or ant about 15” off the back. I probably use this method more than any other.

Learn more about Smoky Mountain hatches and flies in my hatch guide.

Tips for Warm Weather Wading

Fishing the Smoky Mountain High Country

June is here and that means things begin to make another seasonal change here in the mountains.  I always look forward to warmer weather because I get to shed the waders and enjoy the feel of cool mountain stream water on my legs and feet. I also enjoy the freedom of movement I have without waders.  But the absence of waders also exposes you to a few more risks.

Mountain fishing involves moving.  You move through the water, you move over boulders and you move through the woods where you encounter sharp sticks, prickly bushes and undergrowth, poison ivy, and a variety of critters.  For these reasons, I always encourage people not to wear shorts when wet wading.  A pair of long, synthetic “quick-dry” pants will provide you the same level of comfort while still giving your legs much needed protection.

Wading boots are also a must.  I frequently see fishermen attempting to wet wade in Chacos or some other type of river sandals, and I cringe every time I do.  A good pair of wading boots will not only provide you with the much-needed traction of felt soles (or Vibram), but will also offer ankle support and toe protection.  You will definitely want both when navigating the rocky bottoms found in all mountain streams.

If you already have waders and boots, note that the boots are oversized to fit over the 3mm neoprene foot of the wader. Consider purchasing a pair of neoprene socks for wet wading.  These will not only make your boots fit, they will provide a layer of padding and insulation.

Great Northern Water Snake
Great Northern Water Snake

Critters are another thing to be aware of when fishing in the summer months.  Snakes are the biggest concern for most people but they aren’t much of an issue. While we do have two poisonous snakes in the Smokies, Copperheads and Timber Rattlesnakes, most of the snakes encountered by fishermen are harmless water snakes.  I spend nearly 200 days a year in the park and probably see one or two poisonous snakes a year.  The Great Northern Water Snake is a fairly large water snake that is often mistaken for a Cottonmouth, a species we do not have in the Smokies.

Dead Rattlesnake
Senseless

On a guide trip this spring, I came across a dead rattlesnake at the edge of the stream.  Someone had obviously bashed its head in with a rock.  There is absolutely no reason for this, and in the national park (and I believe the state of Tennessee), it is illegal.  If you encounter a snake, poisonous or otherwise, just leave it alone and move on.  They don’t want anything to do with you either.

What I try to keep an eye out for more than anything else, especially during the summer months, are hornet nests.  They love to build these things on low branches above streams.  If you see one, steer clear and move on to the next hole.  And when you do, make sure it is still well out of range of your back cast.  Hooking a hornet nest can ruin your day in a hurry.

Hornet Nest
Hornet Nest

If you do accidentally get too close and get stung, DO NOT start swatting!  This triggers a pheromone that signals all other hornets in the area and one or two stings can turn into dozens.  Just get far away from the nest as quickly as possible.

Yellow Jackets are also common in the Smokies and typically build their nests in the ground.  As with snakes, your best solution here is just to pay attention and watch where you are stepping.  Of course, if you are allergic to either of these, come prepared with an EpiPen or other treatment.  If you’re not allergic, most stings can be easily treated by immediately and thoroughly rinsing the area.  Applying an anti-itch medication will also provide relief.

Mosquitoes, noseeums, and other biting insects are not a huge problem when you’re on the stream but can be as soon as you step away from the stream in the woods or on the trail.  On the stream, you’ll mostly just be harassed by gnats that don’t bite. But they love to hover around your face and get in your eyes.

Off Deep Woods Bug Spray with DEETThe best prevention for all of these, of course, is good old-fashion bug spray.  Bug sprays with higher concentrations of Deet seem to be most effective, but be careful when using them.  Deet has the ability to melt plastic. Getting a healthy dose of Deet heavy bug spray on your fingers can wreck a fly line.  Just avoid spraying it on your palms and finger tips.  If you’re one who likes to spray your hands and rub it on your face, just spray the back of your hands and rub it in that way.

Of course, anytime you’re maneuvering through Carmex Medicated Lip Balmthe woods, there’s a chance of picking up a tick.  Deet based bug sprays will help with that, too.  I still try to check myself periodically, particularly at the end of the day.  If you do find one on you, there’s an easy way to remove it.  Squeeze a dab of medicated lip balm (the gel type that comes in the squeeze tube) onto your finger and smear it on the tick.  It will immediately release itself from your skin. Cool, huh?!?  I always keep a tube of Carmex in my first aid kit for this reason.

Flies: Madame X

Madame X Fly Pattern
Madame X

A good fly pattern is a good fly pattern. And while many good fly patterns, for one reason or another, may fall from popularity, it’s not because they stop catching fish. They just stop catching fishermen. The Madame X certainly fits that description. It had tremendous popularity twenty years ago but is rarely mentioned today.

I became reacquainted with this fly about a month ago on a rare day off. I was fishing upper Little River with a couple of old friends. There was a nice stretch of pocket water that had a few pools mixed in and I was having moderate success when I noticed a large (about a size #8) golden stonefly in the air. These primarily hatch at night but there are always a few holdovers. They’re such a big meal, I think trout are often still looking for them the next morning. So, sometimes their imitations can still work well, even when they’re not hatching.

When I began searching my box, I came across a few Madame X’s that had probably been in my box, unfished, for about 15 years. They fit the size and color profile I was looking for. And sometimes I just enjoy going retro. I enjoy fishing forgotten flies from days gone by. I figured at the very least, a big stonefly imitation would be a great, buoyant dry fly to fish with a nymph dropper. So, I dropped a little Pheasant Tail variation about 15” off the back, expecting it to account for any fish caught.

On the first cast into the first pocket, a fish exploded on the #8 Madame X! It surprised me and I missed the strike. On the second cast, the fish hit it again and I was ready that time – a solid 10” rainbow. This continued in nearly every pocket of water I fished. I caught dozens of chunky rainbows and probably 80% of them came on the big Madame X.

Doug Swisher originated this pattern in the 1980’s as sort of a multi-purpose attractor pattern for his local waters in Montana. Most believe it represents a large stonefly adult or hopper. Over the years, it was frequently modified in size and/or color to represent a number of large bugs. Somehow it fell off the radar after the mid to late 90’s. Many fly tiers began using foam for large flies around that time. I suspect the Madame X just fell out of style.

I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of trout that still think it’s cool. I have been fishing it a little more regularly lately. I don’t know if the trout take it as a stonefly or a hopper, and I honestly don’t care. They take it! I fish it mainly with a yellow body but I’m sure other colors would work. And I fish it mainly in sizes #12 through #8.

Learn more about Smoky Mountain hatches and flies in my hatch guide.

Flies: Lime Trude

Lime Trude Fly Pattern
Lime Trude

Summer is creeping slowly into the Smokies and fly patterns are beginning to shift again. In late spring and summer, nearly everything that hatches is brighter in color. Most of the aquatic insects you see are some shade of yellow or bright green. It certainly makes sense to fish fly patterns in the same color profile.

As I’ve mentioned before, fly patterns are hardly the most important piece of the puzzle when trout fishing in the Smokies. Approach and presentation is the name of the game here. The wrong fly presented well will always catch more fish than the right fly dragging across the surface. But if your presentation is solid, it stands to reason that showing the trout a fly that looks a little more like the naturals they are seeing will produce far more strikes.

Since hatches in the Smokies are rarely heavy enough to make the trout key in on specific insects, color and size are really the most important components of fly selection. And since we tend to fish a lot of riffles and pocket water in the summer months, buoyancy and visibility can be extremely beneficial as well. While there are a number of fly patterns that meet all of those needs, one of my favorites is the Lime Trude.

The Lime Trude is just one of many variations of what was originally a wet fly designed by Carter Harrison. In the early 1900’s, on a trip to the A.S. Trude Ranch near Big Springs, ID, the fly was apparently created as a joke. He used red yarn from a cabin rug as the body and reddish dog hair for a wing. The fly was an instant success and eventually upgraded to more common fly tying materials. That included a tail and hackle, converting it to more of a dry fly dressing.

The fly became a staple in the Rocky Mountains and evolved, as most patterns do, with the increased availability of more diverse fly tying materials. It seems a number of great fly tiers, including Dan Bailey, had a hand in the evolution of the fly we know today. The Royal Trude is the most popular. Essentially, it is just a hair wing version of the classic Royal Coachman. The Lime Trude, which gained notoriety after winning the Jackson Hole One-Fly Contest (I believe in the late 80’s or early 90’s), is probably a close second in popularity.

Much of the fly fishing history in the Smoky Mountains was not recorded. It is difficult to say just when the fly first made an appearance on our streams. But it has certainly been catching trout for many decades. For the purposes mentioned above, it has everything you need. The bright, greenish-yellow body looks like a lot of what the trout see this time of year. The hackle and calf wing make it a fairly buoyant fly. And the white hair wing also makes it highly visible.

It is certainly an attractor fly that might pass for a variety of caddisflies, stoneflies, and even mayflies. Fish it in sizes #16 – #12 on your favorite Smoky Mountain stream and let me know what you think!

Learn more about Smoky Mountain hatches and flies in my hatch guide.

Green Weenie

Green Weenie Fly Pattern
Green Weenie

In June, hatches start to thin out. We still see a fair number of Yellow Sallies and a smattering of caddis and mayflies, but the heavier, attention getting hatches of spring have mostly come to an end. But when summer eases its way into the mountains, trout turn their attention to terrestrials, and so should you. We’ll talk about several varieties of terrestrials over the coming months but we’ll start with the granddaddy of all mountain terrestrials: the Green Weenie.

If you’ve spent much time around Smoky Mountain fly shops or researched recommended fly patterns for the area, you’ve no doubt run across this fly. Chances are you’ve fished one at some point. While incredibly simplistic, this is one of the most popular and most productive fly patterns in the Smoky Mountains. My good friend Brian Courtney ties this fly for Little River Outfitters in Townsend. To date, he’s tied them 25,000!

Inchworm
Inchworm

Caddis Larva
Caddis Larva

There is a little bit of debate about what the fly actually imitates. Many claim it imitates a caddis pupa. Most believe it imitates a green inchworm. Since I am including it in a conversation about terrestrials (land based insects), you can guess which side of the debate I fall. A lot of those little green inchworms end up in the water and trout love them! But the truth is, many caddis pupae look very similar to green inchworms. The Green Weenie is a pretty effective imitation for both. However, one of the reasons I tend to put it more in the terrestrial family is that it works best in terrestrial season. While you can certainly catch fish on it other times of the year, it always seems to be at its best from mid May through early October.

The Green Weenie is different than most terrestrials like hoppers, beetles, and ants. You typically fish it like a nymph rather than on the surface. There are other floating fly patterns intended to imitate inchworms but I don’t find them nearly as effective. Inchworms are poor swimmers and once they hit the water, it’s not long before they are submerged. So mostly I tie my Green Weenies to sink, and fish them on a dead drift. But I do tie a number of variations for different water types and situations.

Beadhead Green Weenie Fly Pattern
Beadhead Green Weenie

When the stream is running fuller or when I’m fishing deeper pools and runs, I tend to fish more heavily weighted patterns. These are sometimes tied with a bead head or with several turns of lead wire under the body. You can use an indicator or straight-line tactics. In these situations, I often fish the Green Weenie in tandem with a second fly. One of my favorite combinations is a Green Weenie for the top nymph and a smaller, more subdued nymph, like a Pheasant Tail, about 15” below it. Trout often take the Green Weenie. I believe just as often, its bright color gets attention and trout take the more subdued fly. When nymphing shallower runs or pockets, I’ll often replaced the weighted trailer nymph with an un-weighted nymph or soft hackle pattern.

Another favorite technique for fishing shallow runs and pockets is to put the Green Weenie off the back of a dry fly. In these instances, I prefer an un-weighted Green Weenie. The weight of the hook is enough to get it down in this kind of water and the dry fly floats better and longer in choppy currents without the extra weight. I do sometimes like to add a glass bead to the fly for these occasions.

Barbie Bug Fly Pattern
Barbie Bug

I most often fish this fly in a bright lime green to chartreuse color. Drab olive and insect green shades do well, too. Others have reported a lot of success with white, beige, and tan colors. And for whatever reason, pink seems to work well. You will sometimes see the pink version referred to as a Barbie Bug. Regardless of color, I tend to fish them in sizes #10 through #14. The smaller sizes, sometimes down to a #16, are reserved mostly late summer and early fall when the water is lower.

Learn more about Smoky Mountain hatches and flies in my hatch guide.

Foam Beetle

Foam Beetle Fly Pattern
Black foam beetle

In general, I mostly look forward to spring and fall fishing the most in the mountains. Temperatures are mild and fish are typically at their most active. However, there is one particular thing that makes me excited for the warm weather of summer to arrive: Beetle fishing!

With mayflies, it’s different. Sure it’s cool seeing a trout casually come up and sip your mayfly imitation out of a foam line, but I’ve seen trout cross from one side of a pool to another to eat a foam beetle. And it’s not a sip; it’s a GULP!

Common Black Beetle
Common Black Beetle

Terrestrial fishing is a big deal in the mountains in the summer. Hatches of mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies are fewer and land based insects like inchworms, ants, and hoppers fill the void. Beetles are one of the most prolific terrestrial “hatches” in the park and there are about as many different types of actual beetles as there are beetle patterns to imitate them. I used to tie a fly called a Java Bug that was a beetle imitation made with a painted coffee bean epoxied to a body of peacock herl. The coffee bean not only provided a perfect profile, but would land on the water with an enticing “plop,” much like a real beetle might.

My favorite beetle imitation for a beetle, as the title not so discreetly suggests, is a foam beetle. With foam, you can still get the desired “plop,” but in a much more durable body. Many patterns, including some I tie, will have a peacock herl or even a sparkle dub body to capture that iridescence found on most beetles. They look great and fish great, but I’ve found that a simple thread body does about as well. For legs, I’ve seen everything from hackle to thread, but in my book, it’s hard to beat thin rubber for the movement.

I mostly use a size range of #10 – #14. I lean more toward the smaller sizes later in the summer when the water is lower. Most of mine are tied in black or brown, and I like to put a small strip of yellow or orange foam on the top to make it easier to see.

Foam Beetle Fly Pattern
Foam Beetle

Trout seem to be looking for them more in the afternoons, but certainly try them anytime of day. Beetles seem to be more active in the afternoon and evening so I think they’re more available to fish at those times. Windy days can be great beetle days (or any kind of terrestrial) as more of them end up in the water. And as you might expect, fishing them under overhanging tree limbs can be very productive.

Most of the time, I fish them like I would any dry fly. I drift them from the top of a current down to the fish. But I sometimes alter my tactics in slower pools. Beetle imitations do hit the water a little harder, which can be good and bad. If you spot a nice fish in a slow pool and plop that beetle in front of him, he’ll often spook. But if you plop it down a foot or so behind him, he’ll often turn around for it. This is one of my favorite kind of takes!

Tie some for yourself or give me a shout and I’ll tie some for you. They are included in my Boys of Summer fly selection. Whatever you do, just make sure you have some with you on any summertime trip to the Smokies!

Simple Foam Beetle

Hook: TMC 100 #16 – #10
Thread: Black 8/0
Back/Shell: Black 2mm craft foam, tied in rearward and folded over
Body: Black thread
Legs: Black rubber legs, small to micro depending on hook size
Sighter: Orange (or other bright color) 2mm craft foam

Note: Numerous other colors of foam and thread can be used but black and brown are my best producers

Learn more about Smoky Mountain hatches and flies in my hatch guide.

Flies: The Ants Go Marching…

Black Ant“When all else fails, try an ant.”

“Trout love ants.”

I have repeatedly heard these two statements throughout my fly fishing life, and I’d have to say, I agree with both. Ants are not only abundant in nearly every stream where trout live, they’re pretty easy pickin’s once they make their way into the water. And for Smoky Mountain trout, they’re one of the few meals available in the summer months.

From a fishing perspective, I love ants for their versatility. Whether it’s topwater in heavier current, topwater in low, slow runs, or below the surface… There’s an ant for that!

Chernobyl Ant Fly Pattern
Chernobyl Ant

Made popular in the American West, a Chernobyl Ant is an oversized ant pattern, often tied on a size #6 hook or even bigger! While they are considerably larger than most natural ants, the trout don’t seem to mind. Trout may actually take them more for a beetle or some other type of terrestrial, but who cares? They eat them. I typically find the traditional Chernobyl Ants too big for slower water, though I have had a number of nice fish eat them on slow, shady edges of summertime pools. The Chernobyl is best suited for heavier water with a little more chop and because of its buoyancy, is a great dry fly to support a dropper nymph.

Mini Chernobyl Ant Fly Pattern
Mini-Chernobyl Ant

Most of the time, however, I scale the fly size down to a #12 or #14, making it more of a “mini-Chernobyl.” At this size, it makes a great generic searching pattern from late spring through early fall. It rides a little lower in the water, sometimes making it difficult to see in choppy water or where there is excessive glare. But with a brighter piece of foam on top of the fly, you can pick it up most of the time.

Parachute Ant Fly Pattern
Parachute Ant

In late summer and early fall, or anytime when the water is low, fish are spookier and big foam flies (even the mini-Chernobyl) can send the fish running for cover. A parachute ant pattern can be more effective during these times. It lands softer and provides a little more natural silhouette. I typically fish these in smaller sizes like #16 and # 18. Tying these with a white or orange post makes them visible in most conditions.

Soft Hackle Ant Fly Pattern
Soft Hackle Ant

One of the most underutilized methods for fishing an ant is to fish it below the surface. Ants are not particularly strong swimmers and often find themselves drowning when they’re in the water. Fishing an ant between the surface and the middle of the water column can be highly productive. Hard bodied ants or, my favorite, soft hackle ants, in a size #14 or #16 are great for this. I’ll often fish one as the top fly of a two-fly nymph/wet fly rig, especially when streams are running full. When streams are low, I like to put a soft hackle ant as a dropper off a dry fly. It hangs in, or just below the surface film and will often fool the most finicky of trout.

Most of the ants I fish are black but can be effective in brown, tan, or cinnamon as well. You can fish them almost anytime of year but they will be most productive during the summer. Ants also tend to be most active through the middle of the day. So that is when trout are most likely to see them.

In any case, you should have at least one ant pattern in your fly selection, preferably two or three variations. You can find the mini-Chernobyl and the Soft Hackle Ant in the Boys of Summer fly selection on my web site.

Learn more about Smoky Mountain hatches and flies in my hatch guide.

Fishing Low Water

In normal years, there are going to be periods that are dryer than others, and in a rainfall driven fishery like the Smoky Mountains, water levels routinely fluctuate and you have to be able to adjust your strategies to match the conditions. While some years can give us low water conditions any time of year, late summer and fall is historically the driest time of year in the Smokies.  We’re fortunate that we’ve had a fairly wet summer this year and have a little more “reserve” going into fall, but September and October will undoubtedly show us drier conditions and fishing low water can be a challenge.

What’s particularly bad is when we have a summer drought with low water AND warm water temperatures. That’s a pretty tough combination. But when you’re dealing with the typical low water we see in September and particularly October, water temperatures are cool and trout are very active. So, there’s one obstacle, warm water temperatures, out of the way. Below are some tips for dealing with the other obstacle.

Using Stealth on a Small Stream
Staying low will help keep you out of the trout’s view

The biggest problem low water creates is it makes already spooky fish spookier. While having less water depth can be an issue, the real challenge is having less water flow. When streams are full, the extra flow of water helps conceal you and your movements. The surface is more broken, making the trout’s view of the outside world more distorted and the extra flow helps to dampen the noise you make when you move in or near the water. In a nutshell, you’re going to have to be a lot stealthier when you fish for low water trout.

I’ve talked about this first piece in the article Dress for Success, but it all starts with what you wear. When you are fishing in the Smoky Mountains, your backdrop consists mostly of trees and bushes. When you wear bright colors, your silhouette against that woody backdrop is much more pronounced, and the trout more easily detects your movements. Dress in dull, earth-tone colors like brown, tan, olive, or grey. And stay low. Crouching, squatting, kneeling and/or staying behind boulders will help eliminate your silhouette altogether.

Without the benefit of faster currents, you have to stay farther away from the fish. Simply staying back farther and casting farther can cause drag issues when you’re working across currents, as more line will be on the water. Use the longest rod you can get away with to allow for extra reach across those currents. With shorter rods, take extra measures to position yourself as much downstream from the fish as possible. This will put your line/leader more in the same speed current as the fly and provide a better drift.

Speaking of lines… Heavier fly lines will make more commotion on the water and will drag more. Try using lighter lines, 4-weight and smaller, and keep them off the water as much as you can by keeping the rod tip up. Longer leaders with longer and finer tippet will also help with less drag and less commotion on the water. For small to mid size streams, I usually fish 9’ leaders in low water, and often 12’ leaders on larger rivers.

Griffith's Gnat
Griffith’s Gnat

Lower, slower moving water also gives the fish a better, longer look at your fly. Larger, bushier flies will often produce “short strikes,” where the fish merely bumps or noses it, or stops just short of taking it. Smaller flies and low profile flies like parachutes or comparaduns, will often solve that. A Griffith’s Gnat in a size #18 is a favorite late season, low water pattern. A Parachute Adams in size #18 is another favorite. Terrestrials are still abundant this time of year and a small parachute ant or a soft hackle ant dropper can be very effective in these conditions.

You may also try to seek out choppier water. Fish will often position themselves more in choppy water during these conditions to remain less visible to predators.

Mostly, success in low water is going to boil down to movement. Keep your false casting to an absolute minimum, like, not at all if you can. Don’t go rushing into each new spot. First, assess the pocket, pool, or run from afar, then keep a low profile and approach it slowly.

After doing all of this, as simple as it sounds, be ready! Your strike is most often going to come on the first cast and you don’t get many second chances.