I’ve found myself fishing a lot of new places over the years. Sometimes I’ve done very well and at other times I’ve been left scratching my head and frustrated. Luckily those frustrating experiences have both taught me a few things and have lessened in frequency. Here are a five things to consider when fly fishing new waters:
1. Do Your Homework
Seems simple, but find out all you can before going. The internet is stuffed with information on different fishing locals so a quick search can reveal things that are nice to know before you go. Look for favorite flies to use and techniques, along with the best sections of particular rivers, stream, lakes, flats, or beaches. Occasionally, a place has a very specific type of fly so it’s good to know that. I remember showing up at the Frying Pan River the first time without any good mysis shrimp patterns. Um, not so good.
2. A Trout is a Trout
Fish flies that have worked for you in similar water in the past. All trout are trout, bonefish are bonefish, bass are bass, and you get the point. If fish of the same species in the same type of water in one place ate a certain fly, chances are that fish in that kind of water in another place will like it too.
3. Try Lots of Flies & Techniques
Try a lot of flies and techniques until you find what is working. Don’t be afraid to switch up your offering more frequently than normal in new water. This will only help you to narrow in on what works the best. You might even switch from a fly that works to one that works even better, so keep trying new things.
4. Local Bugs & Patterns
Turn over rocks and seine the water like crazy. If you are trout fishing on a river or stream make sure you look at what lives there that the trout might eat. Once upon doing this I discovered that a small stream I was fishing had big black stonefly nymphs about 2 inches long living there. These bugs weren’t apparent at first look but because I looked closely I ended up catching big fish on big stonefly nymph patterns.
5. Hire a Guide
Hire a good fly fishing guide. Even if it’s just for the first day of a multi-day trip, hiring a guide will provide you with knowledge that is impossible to learn any other way. I don’t just say this because I’m a guide and want business. I say it because I’m a guide and I’ve seen how much a guide learns about a river when their livelihood depends on catching fish there. Also, when I’ve fished with guides on “their” rivers I’ve seen how much better they do because of the specific knowledge they have of the place. You’re learning curve will be far less steep if you hit the water with a pro.
Hopefully you get out to try some new water this season and you can turn new fishing places into new favorite fishing places.
Good Luck and Tight Lines!
Fly Fishing Professional, Guide, and Author
Utah Fly Guides