The high water we’ve had for the last three years my fishing has shifted from almost exclusively fishing moving water to about a 50/50 mix between moving water and stillwater. I know if moving water gets high there are always eddies, edges and other sheltered
areas you can fish. Heck, when the water gets up into the trees you can find trout holding behind an Oak. But we’ve had more than high water. Often the water has been both high and dirty. For me high water is an issue you work around – high dirty water is a sign to go somewhere else.
So ponds are where I went. And that was fine with me because I like fishing stillwater. Spending all my time in moving water is more a matter of convenience than choice. The Shawmut section of the Kennebec is 5-minutes from my front door. Madison, Solon and Bingham are all within 40-miles. Yep, moving water is easy.
Stillwater is more of a chore. First off I need some sort of watercraft. I know you can fish ponds from the shore (especially near inlets and outlets) but the chances of hooking up increase dramatically when you can get around in ON the water. That’s just the first gear change that I have make when fishing stillwater.
Another change is my fly rod. Most of my moving water work is done with a 5-weight, mid-flex rod. I like a 7-weight on ponds. Why? Sinking lines and big weighted streamers the main reasons. The 5-weight has a hard time with Depth Charge lines and size 4, weighted streamers. If I’m in my canoe it isn’t an issue because I just string up both the 5-weight and a 7-weight. But if I’m in a float-tube working just one rod it’s probably going to be my full-flex 7-weight. (And yes you can tell you’ve got an 8-inch trout on a full-flex 7-weight – full-flex rods put the fun back in playing small fish)
I don’t have to change out my moving water fly box for a still water fly box. That’s because I carry five C&F boxes in my vest – stillwater or moving water. But the selection of flies out of those boxes does change.
Dragonfly nymphs are my go to fly on a pond. Dragonfly nymphs are always around. They have a two year life-cycle and are in almost every pond. I seldom fish the Dragonfly Nymphs in moving water. Midges are another group of flies I seldom use on moving water – but they catch a lot of fish for me when I’m working a pond.
Lines are another change I make. In stillwater or moving water a weight-forward floating line is my most used line. In moving water for a sinking line I frequently use a sink-tip with a five-foot head. Not so on the ponds. Depth-Charge lines are my stillwater choice because of their 30-foot head. If I want to work a submerged ridge at 15-feet a five-foot sink-tip just won’t get me down there – the 30-foot head does.
I also change out my leaders. For a floating presentation on moving water I’m often rigged up with a 9-foot leader as my base and by adding tippet to the leader I often stretch it out to 11 or 12-feet. I seldom use any leaders shorter than 12-feet presenting floating flies on a pond (wind makes me shorten up in a hurry). My leader choice for subsurface flies is much the same on either moving or stillwater. For both I’ll often cut my leader back to 4 or 5-feet.
Can I get by with my stream gear on a pond. Sure. But making a few changes sure increases my hook-up rate. Buying a float-tube, canoe or pram is a big change as is buying a new 7-weight if you don’t have one but the rest of the adjustments I make are relatively inexpensive. So if next summer is as rainy and wet don’t let the high, dirty water stop you from fishing just make a few gear adjustments and move to the ponds.