Super clear lakes-what's the solution?

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by IveofIone, Jun 7, 2014.

  1. IveofIone Active Member

    Posts: 3,057
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    I'll be fishing a lake next week that has gin clear water and is always a challenge for me. I always think I'm doing the right thing by using 9' tapered leaders with about 4-5' of 5X flouro tied to that but I just don't get the action I'm looking for. Even tiny flies look huge in that water and fish must be able to see them from great distances. Am I just having difficulty with fly selection or is there something else I should be doing?

    What is your approach to this problem? All suggestions carefully considered.

  2. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,028
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,602 / 0
    Are you dry or wet fly fishing?

    For wet patterns, I use very long leaders/tippet for clear lakes. 20 feet is not out of the question. Instead of using lighter tippet, I add more tippet material of the same size. I got that from listening to a Lefty Kreh presentation on lake fishing.
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  3. bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

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    Drink beer until dusk , then go fishing until it gets to dark!
  4. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,777
    Ellensburg, WA
    Ratings: +326 / 0
    I don't do much different in ultra clear water. As always, cover is your friend. Low light, overcast, and wind make 'em easier to fool. I do lengthen my leaders for fishing in the shallows with an intermediate line - 13-15' tapered to 3-4x fluoro tippet. Smaller, more natural patterns with no flash. You'll see them cruising if the fish are shallow. Sometimes hanging it under a bobber is the answer in the shallows. Pretty cool to watch 'em react to your bug and inhale it before the bobber even twitches. If they aren't in shallow, head for the edge of the shoal and fish vertical under an indicator on the deep side. If they aren't there, work deeper down to 25-30' fishing a full sink straight off the side of the boat, and keep looking over your shoulder back at the shallows so you don't miss it if a hatch gets going and brings them in.
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  5. Sinkline Active Member

    Posts: 57
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    Pay attention to hatch activity. Doesn't matter whether the water is gin clear, or stained, when the hatch is on fish will feed! We have a place we fish where you can see bottom in 20' of water and we catch fish by dangling Chironomid pupa off the sides of our tubes and literally watch the fish come and react to the patterns right under the tubes. These are wild, some native fish, not stockers.

    If you are fishing Chironomid pupa your best chance of hitting the major part of the daily hatch will be between 10:00am and 2:00pm.

    Seasonal food sources should also be considered. Right now (June) Damsels are an easy to fish food source that stillwater trout are feeding heavily on. Last week I caught fish all day long by alternating between Damsel nymphs & Chironomid pupa during different periods of the day.

    If you are fishing over freshly stocked "legals" then forget all the natural food source stuff and fish shallow with small bright attractor patterns. Fresh stockers have no clue of the lake's food chain.
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  6. jwg Active Member

    Posts: 540
    West Richland, WA
    Ratings: +106 / 0
    I claim no particular expertise myself with regard to water clarity.
    However, I was reminded of a talk by Phil Rowley where he described White Lake in BC as a destination lake with particularly clear water.
    There may be some clues in his writing about fishing White Lake.
    Here is one link I found:

    for shoals he mentions:

    "The shoals on White are large and my Outbound Hover line once again proved its worth again. I really love this line for long presentations using a slow retrieve. Every location we chose produced fish but you had to work for them. Smaller realistic flies such as my Stillwater Callibaetis, fine tippet, 6X Flouro Flex Plus to be exact were necessary for success.


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  7. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,777
    Ellensburg, WA
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    What's that? The Outbound Hover, he says? ;)
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  8. Sinkline Active Member

    Posts: 57
    Ratings: +56 / 0
    I use my Hover line often. I use the standard Hover Int. sinker, not the Outbound version. The Hover is just an, "old school" Int. sinker that many of us started with back before the mono-core clear/clearcamo lines came about. It's an excellent choice during the Damsel migration.
  9. Kaiserman content

    Posts: 2,617
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    I use to fish high mountain lakes in Montana. I did way better, after I switched to a clear intermediate line.

    Bug bug selection didn't change at all.

    That doesn't mean this a "one size fits all" solution, but it changed my fishing forever. Even found it to be true for some low land, heavily fished, local lakes.
  10. Starman77 Active Member

    Posts: 176
    Kent, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +69 / 0
    I also recommend using a clear intermediate line when fishing the shoals on a lake that has very clear water. I think the clear line acts as an extension of your leader. Sure, the fish can see that clear intermediate line, but I think it doesn't spook the fish as much as a brightly colored floating line. A long leader helps as well, along with having the tippet at least, if not the entire leader, made of fluorocarbon helps too. A long leader to me is about 12' but some of my friends think a long leader is 18' or longer.