How to Read Streams

How to Read StreamsFor fly fishermen, "reading the stream" refers to surveying the water and coming to a conclusion about the probability of fish. The ability to read a stream is almost vital, since your reading will determine where you will fish and, consequently, whether your fly is even seen by the fish you seek. Though stream reading can take years to master, following a few simple steps can get you on your way.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Step 1
Avoid slow water, and stay away completely from still water. When it comes to fly fishing, trying to find fish in slow water, or particularly in still water like a big pond or lake, is often called "fishing blind," because the normal indications of where the fish lay are absent. In addition, your fishing in slow water is more apt to scare the fish--as you yourself will be more noticeable, since fish in slow water can see you better.
Step 2
Look for places where slow water meets with fast water. This will typically occur in shallow streams with plenty of riffles, or mini-rapids. Fish, particularly trout, like to hang out in such confluences.
Step 3
Look for areas along the stream where shallow water runs into deep water. These confluences, too, are favorite spots of the fish you seek.
Step 4
Look for large rocks or rock shelves. One side of such immovable objects in a fast-moving stream affords fish protection from the current, making the base of these objects a natural shelter for fish.
Step 5
Select your spot based on these observations. The best prospects come in the form of riffle-filled streams where fast water and slow water are meeting left and right, shallow runs are colliding with deep pockets often, and the stream itself is filled with rocks and rock shelves that provide shelter for the fish.

Article Written By William Jackson

William Jackson has written, reported and edited professionally for more than 10 years. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, high-level government reports, books and online. He holds a master's degree in humanities from Pennsylvania State University.

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