Bank fishing includes both still water and river/stream fishing and we'll look at each in turn. These different types of venue present their own individual challenges but the problem is always the same, whether fishing a still water or river - where to find the fish. We are constrained on the banks of a lake or reservoir by how far we can cast. On a river or stream casting distance may not be such a problem if the water is not too wide but the task is actually made more complex by this small size - how do you locate the fish without being detected yourself.
STILL WATER BANK FISHING
On arrival at the fishing venue it is important to ensure that you only fish in designated areas. This is not a problem on purpose built lakes but many reservoirs will only permit fishing in areas that do not interfere with the water abstraction business. Similarly there may be areas of the waterside set apart for nature reserves, bird sanctuaries, etc. Please respect these restrictions so that everyone may have the opportunity to enjoy the facilities.
And so to business. Much has been written about the thermocline in a body of water and its effect on fish. The thermocline is the level in the water where the lighter warm water interacts with the cooler heavier water, forming a very distinct layer. On large bodies of water this thermocline may be very marked and will move up and down with the seasons. Summer will produce more warm water so the thermocline will be at greater depth and vice versa for the cooler months. The theory is that the fish will hold at or around the level of the thermocline as it gives them the point of greatest temperature comfort. We are told to try and find this thermocline so that we have the greatest chance of finding fish. But to me this seems to miss the point.
The fish seek out the thermocline when they want to feel comfortable and laze their time away. But there is very little in the way of food at the thermocline level. There may be some daphnia if the light level coincides with the thermocline but there is little else to attract water fauna to this level. I have used my fish finder many, many times on a body of water and have found large numbers of fish sitting at a particular level - usually around twelve feet down in a total depth of thirty feet or more. This would seem to imply that this was the level of the thermocline. But try as I might I had very little success catching these fish. I might get the odd little tug, more out of curiosity than hunger, but rarely did I get a confident take. I decided that the fish sitting at the thermocline were not feeding fish and therefore of little interest to me. My prey lay elsewhere. So, after years of experimentation with trying to fish the thermocline I came to the conclusion that fishing time can be more fruitful searching other parts of the water.
So - where to find the fish? Common sense dictates that fish will not be spread evenly throughout a body of water. If that were so then it would not matter where we fish for there would always be an equal number of fish within casting range. The fish we are interested in will be those that are feeding and they will be where their food is. A trout with a full tummy will let your fly swim on by. That all sounds blindingly obvious but the point is not to find the fish but to find the fish's food! That's where the fish that want to feed will be.
So the obvious next question is . . . where is the fish's food most likely to be? We know that trout are omnivorous, feeding on bugs, nymphs, larvae, fry and virtually anything else that moves. There must be plenty of vegetation for these creatures to feed on or hide in. And now we are looking for the littoral zone - that area of the lake or reservoir at the edges that will support the vast majority of the flora and fauna in the water. The littoral zone will not be spread evenly around the edge of the water. Some areas will be more fertile than others. The shallowest areas will become too warm in summer to support animal life even though it is full of vegetation. Other areas will slope too rapidly to the depths to allow vegetation to grow. Consider also the fish's need to have a route of escape should danger threaten. We are now confining ourselves to certain areas that are more likely to contain our prey. The ideal spot will be within casting range, the edge of the vegetation and eight to ten feet deep and with a drop off to deeper water. This is the depth where insufficient light permeates the water to allow vegetation to grow and the fish will patrol this edge looking for food among the plant life.
There are going to be times when the comfort of the fish supersedes its need to feed. For example, when it is extremely hot under a relentless sun, it is more likely that the fish will choose to seek comfort in deeper, cooler water rather than seer its eyes out in the shallows. It will come in to feed when the sun is off the water - at day's beginning or end. Use your common sense to determine these times and adjust your fishing accordingly. When it is glaring sunshine, find the deepest water you can cast to. Some fish will probably be lurking down there waiting for an opportunity to move in when the light levels permit. When the sun is down or it is clouded the shallows are your destination.
As with boat fishing, it is likely that the fish will be found upwind. Normally this would put the wind behind you, which is the ideal situation. Our challenge is to find a bank location that gives us access to a sufficient depth of water with the wind blowing from this favourable direction. Local knowledge will help with this but sometimes it can be just a question of trial and error. Finding that drop-off within casting range is the object of the exercise. Standing on high ground and looking down on the water may give us some clues as to where the deeper parts may be. Additionally, some venues will have local maps which include the depths and topography of the water. And you could always try asking a local angler in the hope that he might know more than you.
Then there will be times when the fish choose to feed downwind. As I suggested in the section on boating, this is likely to be when the wind is slight and they will be using the light ripple to hide under. This means that you will be casting into the wind. Thankfully, however, it is likely to be a calm breeze rather than a stiff wind. There is no magic formula which will tell you when the fish change their minds and choose to move either upwind or downwind. My advice is to start at the upwind station and if you have had no success after an hour or so then move to a downwind location but only if the wind is not too strong. Another challenge is to ensure that there is sufficient space to cast your line. You only need to find your back-cast stuck up a tree a few times to realise how important this is. One way to minimise this problem is with a steeple cast. This is covered in the casting section, but briefly entails casting your back-cast upwards rather than backwards. This is especially effective on the dam wall of a reservoir where it would otherwise be impossible to cast.
An alternative way to create space behind you to accommodate a back-cast is to wade. You must ensure that the fishery permits it before you start. Chest waders and a wading stick are both essential to avoid potential dangers. I have found that thigh waders do not really get you far enough into the water to make any substantial difference and a rogue wave can really ruin your day if it overtops your boot waders! Out of preference - stick with the chest waders. When wading, always be aware of what is going on around you. The boat that just went whizzing by will have created a wake that will eventually want to make your acquaintance. Be prepared to retire to safety when necessary. I recall wading in a river in Alaska when my guide instructed me to stop fishing. On the bank watching us was a grizzly bear with three cubs! "As long as we don't catch a fish she'll leave us alone" the guide advised us. "Catch a fish and she'll come and take it off you...". The fishing abruptly stopped and Mummy Bear eventually bored of our company and departed with babies scampering after her. It pays to be conscious of everything around you when wading!
Fishing techniques for still water bank fishing include using a booby on a hi-density line. This can be especially effective if the hi-density line has been made up into a shooting head. This gives dramatically greater casting distance, putting those deeper areas within fishing range. Alternatively, a team of buzzers or nymphs can be fished on an intermediate line, but you need to ensure that the line sink rate is slow enough to avoid grounding out before full retrieval. This can be a problem when fishing from the bank because you are always retrieving towards shallower water so the tendency will be for the intermediate line to ground out before you finish the retrieve.
Buzzers and nymphs can also be presented on a floating line with an extremely slow retrieval rate. You will need to give the flies plenty of time to sink and this method will require some trial and error to ensure that the leader is not too long, otherwise your flies will just lie on the bottom rather than hovering tantalisingly just above it. Look for mud and weed deposits in the bends of the hooks to check for this. Because you are fishing across weed into deeper water, retrieving the line will inevitably mean that you will pull your flies through this weed, picking up some on your hooks and fouling the fly. Fishing your flies static solves this problem and the nymphs and buzzers can be left to swing gently in the wind without actually retrieving the line.
We can take this idea of static line fishing a step further. A technique used to good effect is to install a sight indicator on your floating line to aid in bite detection. This is a small piece of material that floats and is attached to your floating line at the point where the braided loop attaches to the leader. Your leader hangs down from it and your buzzers should be presented just off the bottom. It acts like a float in coarse fishing and is dragged under when a fish takes the fly. These takes can sometimes be very subtle as the fish sometimes takes the fly more out of curiosity than commitment. Any deviation in the sight indicator's natural movement should be struck. There are several varieties on the market, some are re-usable and some are for one-off use.
As an alternative to fishing with a sight bob, some anglers use a big, bushy dry fly as a top dropper. This can be situated well up the leader, allowing the middle dropper and point flies to sink into deeper water. The idea is still the same - watch the dry fly to see any takes on the sunken nymphs or buzzers. Keep the dropper for this dry fly very short or takes will be missed as the movement is absorbed by the dropper. Alternatively, as mentioned elsewhere, the leader down to the submerged flies can be tied from the dry fly's bend in its hook rather than as a separate dropper. This transmits every movement from the submerged flies directly through the dry fly. The only caveat to this method is that this indicator fly is situated well up the leader and may limit how far you can pull the leader through the rod rings when playing a fish.
Finally, don't forget those season specific fishing techniques such as pulling a lure through the fry shoals in autumn. This method can be especially effective from the bank, as the shoals of fry will tend to hide in the shallows near to the bank. Look for the small ripples caused by these shoals of fry and, if you are lucky, you may even come across a trout crashing through the shallows chasing the fry. Then the hunter can become the hunted!
A tip I discovered some years ago is to keep your eyes open for ducks feeding on weed. It may sound strange, but a little thought will see the sense of it. When the ducks dive they are going after the tender shoots at the base of the water plants. These they tug up and devour. In so doing they disturb any fauna that may have been lurking there. I found this to be a rich hunting ground, for the wily trout will be in there vacuuming up these newly homeless nymphs and pupae. You need to be cautious in your approach and casting. Too much disturbance will see the ducks swim off, but you should carry on trying the area because the trout are likely to be there for a while longer. Then off you go to the new spot chosen by the ducks - whoever thought that a duck would choose your fishing spot for you?
THE STILL WATER RISE
The most amazing sight to behold is the rise of a hatch of flies from the water, usually around dusk. In the section on fauna we discovered the life cycle of many water borne flies. This includes the moment when they abandon their watery home to take to the air for their brief sojourn of courtship and procreation. Initially one or two flies will break the surface and attract your attention - to be quickly followed by hundreds and sometimes thousands of them. This moment is the culmination of several years of preparation for the flies. They have grown and matured underwater as pupae and nymphs and now the time has arrived to fulfil their destiny. Needless to say, the trout will be ready to take advantage of this feast - and so should you! A floating line with two or three dry flies should be gently cast out to sit among the throng.
Watch for the tell-tale ring created by a fish rising to take this emerging offering and cast towards it. If you get it right the result can be sensational. The fish will rise and take your fly, sucking it in with confidence. There is a heart-stopping moment before the fish realises it has been fooled and tries to spit the hook back out. Strike too soon and you'll pull the fly out of the trout's still open mouth. Too late and he'll have realised his folly and spat the fly out. A good guide is to count to three and then strike.
Remember that a fish has a different field of view to the angler, caused by the bending of the light waves as they enter and leave the water. This is called refraction and the diagram shows the effective field of view for a fish just under the surface. This becomes important when the fish are close to the surface and you are casting to them as they rise. Keep a low profile and you will stay in that blind spot giving yourself an added advantage.
RIVER AND STREAM FISHING
Most trout streams and rivers these days are owned and managed by fisheries that charge high rates for a desirable and severely limited commodity. Fishing the lowland chalk streams of England is a pastime for the well heeled. But if you can afford the occasional outing then it is an opportunity to partake of what is perceived by some as the purest form of the sport of fly fishing. The scenery as well as the fishing can be breathtaking. Other anglers are equally fortunate and have the opportunity to fish rivers around the world that are still virtually untouched in such places as Chile and New Zealand. And big fish really do live in small streams - watch this video for proof!
Many believe that fishing for brown trout in a gin clear fast flowing river is the height of trout fishing. You don't get an opportunity to make a mistake by heavy handed casting or a noisy approach. Try being clumsy and you will think there aren't any fish in the water. They will have voted with their fins and disappeared! Everything you do must be done quietly and thought out in advance. If you can see the trout, the odds are they can see you. And one of your biggest enemies is drag - the tendency of the fly to be dragged around by the leader going at a different speed due to the currents. You need to make sure your casting techniques, together with mending the line, eliminate this problem. .
Take a look at the diagram opposite. It demonstrates the angle of view that a fish has from below the water. They can see a lot more than you would think. Working your way along the river can present you with the problem of being seen as you approach. A fish depends on its powers of observation for its survival. Your head and shoulders suddenly appearing over the horizon as you move downstream will trigger a flight instinct and the fish will be gone long before you would have seen them.
Working your way upstream rather than downstream has several advantages. Fish tend to sit facing the current, their heads facing upstream. Moving upstream means that you are approaching them from behind. Equally, any silt or mud that your approach creates if wading will be washed downstream, away from your quarry. Even so, you should move slowly and stealthily. Even kicking the rocks on the stream bed can be enough to advertise your presence to your wary quarry. Vibrations travel even better through water than through air. Slowly, smoothly, quietly is the order of the day.
A dry fly is mandatory on many of these waters. It is probable that you will have the advantages of a ghillie or guide who will have known the water for many years. Rely upon his advice or you will probably go home empty handed. If you do have the opportunity to fish a trout stream alone then the art is to find and stalk a fish that is feeding. Most of these prime trout streams are shallow enough to enable you to sight stalk. I cannot stress enough - if you can see the fish, it can see you. Some enthusiasts resort to crawling along on hands and knees when approaching a good lie!
Try to see what the fish is interested in and match your fly. This is often simply a case of checking what fly is in the air at the time. Remember that a rise of fly will consist of insects in various stages of hatching. Offering the dry fly version of the mature fly - the imago - sometimes, and very frustratingly, brings no takers. It may be that the fish are actually concentrating on the emerger stage of the fly as it leaves the shuck. Changing to an emerger or parachute pattern can often do the trick. The difference is that the fish are looking at a fly that is breaking the surface tension of the water and this tiny movement of the surface meniscus may be the trigger that causes the fish to take.
Cast a goodly way upstream and allow the fly to flow past the fish without line drag. This will entail ensuring that you have mended the line so that the fly sits on the water rather than being dragged across it. If you spook the fish then move on upstream. They rarely give you a second chance!
River fish live in a constantly changing environment. If they see something of interest come floating past they are more likely to follow it downstream for a distance rather than just grab at it. Then they will rise and take the fly before moving back up to their normal holding station.
Of course, it is almost inevitable that you will arrive at the water when there is no aerial activity to give you a clue as to what fly might prove effective. Then what should you do? While fish are not eating machines, they will nevertheless take the chance to gobble up a freely offered morsel. Experience shows that the majority of forage items such as larvae and nymphs live in the fast flowing parts of the stream which have the highest oxygenation levels. These can be identified by the riffles caused by the water passing through these shallow areas. The problem for the fish is that these areas are too shallow to accommodate them, so they solve the problem by sitting just below the riffles and wait for any unfortunate forage item that gets caught in the fast current and is washed downstream. So - finding a riffle and fishing the calmer water just below it with a nymph imitation is a good starting point.
A stream or small river is constructed of these shallow runs followed by a length of deeper water. This is usually followed by an even deeper pool where the biggest fish will live. This is all to do with the mechanics of water movement and erosion but essentially we end up with a run of shallow water, a run of deeper water and finally a pool. Those in the know call this “The Riffle, Run, Pool” system and instinctively seek out the areas described - just below the riffle and the pool - to do their fishing. And that’s just what you should do. Let’s look at this river construction in a little more detail.
The natural river bed will consist of many different materials along its course. Some of these areas will be soft like clays and muds and this fine material is easily transported by the river. This is the area where the maximum erosion will occur, leading to lengths of deep slow running water. The scouring action in these areas will continue until the depth created causes the water to slow sufficiently that the water speed is insufficient to cause any further erosion. In other places the river bed will be made of more durable materials like flint and granite. These areas will resist erosion and will be shallower. But the same volume of water has to pass over these areas so the only solution is for the water to move more quickly. The increase in water speed creates disturbance in the water as it moves around any obstructions such as rocks or shingle beds, oxygenating the water and making it more attractive to the river fauna. Additionally, there will be rocks whose tops poke out of the river and these give an ideal landing point for many fly species who will then lay their eggs in the water.
Because these riffle areas are shallow they allow more light into the water, giving vegetation more opportunity to grow. So the riffle becomes a perfect location for many species of fauna and predatory fish, including our trout, will know this. The problem is that this area may be just too shallow for the fish to actively hunt so they do the next best thing and sit just below the shallow area waiting for any hapless insect that gets washed away from its home. On the other hand, if the river is larger, the riffle may be deep enough to allow fish to actively hunt and it will find the best area in which to hold while feeding. This spot is known as a prime lie and will be occupied by the largest fish as a result of competition. With careful observation you may find these spots. Larger rocks and obstructions that the fish can hold behind to break the current will be obvious locations.
Alternatively, some areas only become attractive to fish at certain times - when insects are active in that place, either feeding on vegetation or detritus or moving from place to place in preparation for hatching, moulting, etc. These areas are known as feeding lies because they will only be occupied at certain times. Again, observation of the riffle will give clues to these points.
Runs are deeper lengths of water offering the trout a better sheltering area. Often these runs will be deeper on one side than the other as the river erodes the bank with the fastest current. Even a slight bend in the river will mean that the water on the outside of the curve will have to move slightly faster and erode that side slightly deeper. The fish will favour these deeper areas and if there is no activity at the riffle then this should be the next port of call. Even though there is not so much insect life as the riffle, this area is not totally devoid of life. Shrimp, hoglouse, caddis and fish fry will inhabit this area. An ideal situation is where you can cast across to this deeper run and fish its length.
Because of its deeper nature this is more likely to be wet fly fishing rather than dry and Oliver Edwards has some sage advice on the technique to adopt in these circumstances.
We finally come to the pool area of the river. Deeper, slower and darker, these areas will not be a good place for active feeding. Indeed, they are unlikely to contain the larvae of most fly species but will not be completely devoid of life. It is more probable that they will contain bloodworm and midge larva in the bottom sediment but the shear depth of these pools make it difficult to get a fly down to the depths before it is washed away, even with the slower current found in these areas. While the riffles and the sides of runs are active feeding places for fish, the pools are more likely to be used for laying up, especially in very hot or cold weather, so they are worth a look in the right circumstances.
So the river offers different opportunities under different circumstances. It is up to you, dear angler to take this information and weave it into your game plan for approaching, analysing and attacking your prey and deciding where it is likely to be found at that point in time. Keep your eyes open and you too will start to read these signs in the water that you never saw before! Finally, here’s a video of the small streams of Snowdonia in Wales, UK.
THE RIVER RISE
As with still-water fishing, the rise represents a magical time when the whole body of water seems to come to life. An experienced angler can tell from the way the fish is rising what it may be after. Here are a few examples of the types of rise and what they may represent.
The Classic Rise. A set of concentric circles is the most obvious sign of a trout taking a fly. It is a sign of the fish confidently drinking in the fly as it passes.
The Splashy Rise. This violent activity is created when the fish are concentrating on a fly hatch, normally created by the evening rise of mayfly or caddis.
The Sipping Rise. Much more subtle, this rise form suggests that the fish are taking emergers or other insects trapped in the surface film. The trout does not break the surface, instead often leaving behind just a bubble to mark its presence.
The Sub-surface rise. As the insect approaches the surface the trout will ambush it, creating a roil in the surface water. This activity may be many inches below the surface, so demands a deeper fishing approach.
The Head and Tail Rise. This activity is demonstrated when the fish is taking sub surface nymphs along a course of water. It will shoulder its way out of the water to take the offering and then carry on swimming upstream.
BIG RIVER FISHING
On larger rivers, for example those found on the Pacific Northwest coast, Scotland and New Zealand you are less likely to see your prey and wet flies on sink tip lines come into play. Here the challenge is to work out where the fish are likely to be sitting. Imagine you are that fish. Where would you sit? Firstly, you don't want to be fighting the current all the time, so behind a water break seems a good idea. How about sitting just behind a large rock? And if you get the positioning just right you can sit so that the food is washed downstream to your waiting mouth! Look for the point where the flow joins back up behind the rock.
Here we see the angler working the river using several different techniques.
This is a case of water mechanics at work. As the current bends around a large object, such as a rock, it forms varying pressures which act in differing directions. When the water closes back together after moving around the object that pressure directs the water in a closing movement and the pressures meet at a point just past the object. This closing motion will squeeze against the sides of a fish and effectively push it forwards in the water. So the fish can hold station just behind a large rock with no effort at all. That is why a fish will hold in running water when common sense might dictate that the sluggish water at the sides of the river might be more sensible.
Sometimes the presence of fish is simply a matter of using your eyes, as in this video!
There is competition for these holding points in running water as the fish will be best placed to take any food being washed downstream by the current. The largest rocks are likely to hold the largest fish, so these places should be identified and your first casts should explore these locations before anywhere else. Cast above the rock with a wet fly or nymph and let the current wash the fly down and around the rock, just as might happen to an insect if it was caught in the current. You may have to do this several times to get the movement past the obstacle just right for presentation to a waiting fish. The strongest currents will require a well weighted fly to keep it down in the water as it washes around the rocks. This was the philosophy that created the Czech nymph, which has a lead weighted body, of which more later.
Now let’s look at other place that might hold a feeding fish. On many rivers there is a distinct point where the current changes from the forceful flow of midstream to the gentle course found near the bank. You can even see what looks like a crease in the water at this change in speed. And that change in speed will mean that food items washed downstream by the main current suddenly become too heavy for the water to carry and starts to fall to the bottom. Another perfect place for a fish to sit and get served dinner without working for it! Cast just across the crease into the slower moving water, remembering to mend your line frequently to keep the faster moving part of the line moving as slowly as the part in the slower current. This video shows how to read these signs in the river.
Of course, anything that falls off an overhanging tree - caterpillar, spider, or bug - is likely to be edible, so you just know that there will be an opportunistic trout lurking thereabouts. Are you getting the idea yet? You just have to use your eyes and your common sense to work out where your next prize fish is sitting. Weir pools, waterfalls, changes in current speed, drop offs, creases in the water - the list goes on. Use your eyes. Finding the fish is half the fun of these larger rivers. I've caught eight pounders in two feet of water - because that was where they had to be to if they wanted to feed.
Matching the hatch - using a fly that resembles what is active on or in the water - is much more important on a stream or river than on still waters. As mentioned earlier, you should always spend some time discovering what fauna is active at that time of year. This will give you a good starting point to decide what fly to put on your line. River fish can be much more discerning. Their limited home waters tend to make them more cautious about what they choose to eat.
Fishing a nymph can also produce great results. The idea is to cast across and slightly upstream, mending the line as necessary to keep in direct contact with the fly. Follow the line with the rod as it moves downstream. The weighted nymph sinks through the water as it is washed downstream. As it moves past you the line starts to tighten and lifts the nymph back up through the water. This can induce a take from a curious fish as it believes the nymph is about to escape or rise to hatch.
Those large rocks I mentioned will create a disturbance as the water flows over them. So even if you can't see the rock you'll have a good idea where it is. To entice the fish that may be sitting behind it, cast your fly well upstream - a lot further than you'd expect in a strong current - and let it sink through the water and wash around the rock. You may need to try several times to get your trajectory just right. Sometimes the fly will get caught on the river bed as it moves down the current, but strike at anything that causes the fly to falter in its travels. It could be the fish you are targeting.
In the nineties a new version of this theme took the trout world by storm when the Czechoslovakian fly fishing team made a great impression with their new version of the weighted nymph. This new fly was christened, unsurprisingly, the Czech nymph. The main innovation is that this fly is super heavy. The biggest problem with river fishing is trying to get the fly down to the fish in the short time that you have between your upstream cast and the fly finishing its travel down the current. The faster the flow the shorter this time will be. By making the fly extra heavy it not only sinks faster, but gives you the opportunity to check the travel a couple of times repeatedly forcing the fly back up in the water.
Here’s how the Czech nymph is used.
We know that nothing is more appealing to a trout than a nymph that is apparently about to rise and hatch and this is the effect that this fly emulates. The added weight gives you a much more versatile fly that can be moved up and down in the water column several times on each pass. On some waters this is now called the lift and draw method. The method is sometimes enhanced further by putting a small fly on a dropper to act as another rising nymph.
And here is a video of the construction of a Czech nymph.
Downstream fishing can be a highly effective dry fly fishing technique but there are many waters that prohibit it on the grounds that it gives the fisherman an unfair advantage. The theory is that you can long trot your fly and cover a large amount of water with relatively little effort. Long trotting is where you pay out line as the fly moves downstream with the current and the fly stays in front of the leader. It is the first thing the fish will see so is a decided advantage.
Nevertheless, there are many rivers that do permit downstream fishing and this method lends itself to dry fly fishing. Not only can the long trotting method be employed but it is possible to get into otherwise inaccessible parts of the water with clever use of the current on your line. Cast the line across and slightly downstream. As the fly moves down in the current, check the line so that it tightens and straightens. This will cause the line to swing across the current and make the dry fly skate across the surface, an action that can sometimes be irresistible to the fish. By using this technique you can make your fly swing across the current and under a tree, for example, that would otherwise be impossible to access. Remember also that many fish sit hard under the bank so use this method to take your fly close in before moving downstream and disturbing any potential prey.
We've seen how dry flies can be used to sight stalk and long trot to the fish, and how nymphs can be sunk and drawn or presented at underwater obstructions such as boulders. Wet flies have their place in the river as well. Bear in mind that wet flies come in many formats, such as winged, wingless, hackled, etc, etc. It is important to use the right fly for the occasion and this is a case of using your eyes and powers of deduction. A hatch of mayfly will create many dead bodies in the surface film and a winged dry will emulate this nicely. Equally, many flies will dive after mating to insert individual eggs in plant stalks - these are called spinners - and a winged wet fly can be made to copy this action. A wingless version can be used to copy the struggles of a pupa breaking the water film prior to hatching. Moving this presentation up through the top few feet of water is the idea. Keep your eyes open for these opportunities. As mentioned earlier, if the imago (adult) version of a rising fly does not work then try working back through its life cycle. Often the fish are taking the fly at an earlier stage in its development and become obsessed with just that particular part of the fly's life cycle.
One final word of warning - if you are going river wading always wear a floatation aid and always use a wading stick. Lose your footing and you could be in serious trouble, especially if the water is extremely cold and fast. In the event that you do find yourself legless in the river the first thing to remember is that your floatation device will stop you drowning. The secret is to sit back and enjoy the ride! Try to manoeuvre yourself so that you go downstream feet first and lie back in the water. Eventually, with a little paddling, you will get washed up onto a shore - wet, cold but safe.