[How To] Fly Fishing in High Water

Kelly Galloup puts on a clinic on how to fly fish in high, dirty water on the Montana’s Madison River in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

Tips for Fly Fishing High Water

  • Contrary to popular belief fish can see pretty well in dirty water so you don’t necessarily have to resort to throwing big gaudy flies. This is pretty evident in the video as Kelly catches a number of trout on a size 18 baetis nymph!
  • Look for seams where fast water meets slow water – this is where the trout hang out, namely to conserve energy while also having access to all the food floating by.
  • Fish close to the bank as the fish tend to get push toward the bank away from the heavy current in the middle of the river.
  • Use short up-stream cast to better control your drift.
  • Add weight to get your flies down quickly – here Kelly demo’s a double nymph rig with a heavy nymph on the point and a lighter, smaller nymph on a dropper 16″ up from the point fly.  Kelly even adds a drop shot on a 6″ tag off the point nymph for extra weight (not always needed).

So the next time the river is blown out don’t assume there aren’t fish to catch.  Go out and give it a try.  Just remember to exercise caution and avoid wading if you can. The fish are usually stacked along the bank anyway and are only a short cast away!

Enjoy!

Ken Sperry

About the author

Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.

Get Directions to the Best Places to Fish in America!

Check out our interactive map of over 30,000 of the best places to fly fish in the US. Get directions to access points, boat ramps, and real-time USGS stream flow data. 

Get App

Install
×