how do you fish deep fast water?

James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
I'm kind of curious how someone would fish deep fast water on a river. When I was at the Ohanapecosh, Coweechan, and Sauk rivers, there were large streches of fast, deep, aqua colored pools that looked like they would hold fish. Up to this point, I've fished 'em with rather large cone headed muddlers and such using a floating line, but I'm wondering if there's a better way. I'm tempted to try a fast sink tip line and try that, but I'm not sure if this is the way to go. Any suggestions? :DUNNO

-- Cheers
-- James
If you are trying for a dead drift, or something close to it, you're going about it just fine, with a heavily weighted nymph or streamer and a long leader on a floating line. Stand about even with the water you want to fish, cast upstream, throw a big upstream mend, then hold your rod high, try to keep the line from getting below the fly, and make sure the tip of the line is drifting close to the speed of the current. That's fast-water "nymphing." It's very hard to do in very fast or very deep water. You can keep adding weight to get down better, but eventually you'll wind up with something too heavy to throw with a fly rod.

Putting on a sink tip is another way to go, and will get you deeper. At that point, most fellows opt for a different presentation, the downstream swing. Stand well upstream of the water you want to fish. Cast slightly upstream, straight across current, or slightly downstream, depending on how fast and deep the water is, maybe throw an upstream mend if you need to, while the fly and line are sinking on a reasonsably dead drift, then at about 45 degrees, "check" the rod tip so the line starts quartering down and across the current, through your "target" water. Again, you don't want the line out in front of the fly (in other words, no belly in the line) while the line is swinging across the current; the straighter the line and slower the swing, the deeper you'll be.

This is really hard to pull off in really fast deep water too, but that's the cross you picked up when you bought that fly rod. And I just gave you the nickel tour; there are plenty of finer points, and many will contradict everything I just told you. But go ahead and start there; the rest you'll probably figure out yorself on the water. The "nymphing" technique is generally thought of as a trout tactic, and the downstream swing is more for steelhead and salmon, but there is plenty of cross-over for both styles. You can catch steelhead nymphing with the right fly in the right place, and a good downstream swing will score you trout when you know what you're doing.

Nice explanation!! You hit it right on the nose. I can only add a technique called "Hinged Nymphing". It doesn't work in streamer water but it is good for everything else. Use 3 feet of butt section tied to your floating line. Tie a yarn indicator to the end using a clinch knot. Tie your tippett directly to the butt section using a clinch knott, creating a right angle on your leader. Whatever the depth of the pool is, add 1 foot and tie the fly on the end. You might want to use either a weithed fly if you are only using one. You should also try using 2 flies and a short dropper leader tied to the end fly with a split shot crimped 4" from the fly. Use a standard dead drift technique and you will notice much more response from the strike indicator. Read John Judy's book for more info.
You like that one? I also like to use a gold bead head nymph, wrapped with a dark green or blue wire body, if the pool isnt to fast and deep. I've also used weighted down egg patterns. All of these catch steelhead for me. The egg pattern works especially well when i dip it in the juice from the eggs that i cure.


Active Member
Weighted down yarn dipped in egg juice? Why bother with a fly rod? A spin set up with float is much more effective on the dead drift with that bait.