A stillwater fly fishing experience can range from being one of the most enjoyable outings a fly fisherman can ever have to being the most frustrating and technical fishing one will ever encounter. What is interesting to me is that while many approach a river or stream with a degree of logic, determining what pattern they tie on based on the knowledge gained from prior outings or real-time streamside observation, there are a number of those that fail to apply these same principles to their stillwater fishing tactics. We all see those that rig up an intermediate line and tie on their favorite bugger pattern and troll around all day without acknowledging the various types of food forms which inhabit that particular body of water. My point here is not to be critical with this particular strategy, it is just to address that in my opinion, this contradicts some of the basic elements of fly fishing(observation to surroundings, general knowledge about aquatic entomology, depth, presentation etc..). At the end of the day, this technique can yield a degree of success but there are many times where I have seen this strategy fail and these fishermen deduce the fishing as being slow and chalk it up as a relaxing day out on the water. As I gain more experience in stillwater flyfishing, I have evolved to greatly appreciate employing a much more scientific approach to my fishing tactics. When I travel to a lake that I have never visited, I quickly try to identify where the shallower shoals are(identified by cattails, underwater vegetation, algae mats) and where the deep portions are likely to exist. I will target one of these two areas, or both, depending on the ambient air temperature. Another important and easy observation is identifying the lake substrate. A muddy bottom will encourage me to think about using chironomid larvae and pupae patterns, leeches, damsels, baetis, and dragonflies, while a cobble substrate focuses my attention more towards caddis, stonefly, crayfish and baitfish patterns. While the dichotomy of aquatic invertebrates will be similar at many lakes, each body of water will exhibit some form of unique quality that might favor one strategy over another either with using a general type of pattern(leeches, chironomid larvae and pupae, damsels, callibaetis, ect.), specific presentation, depth, et.al. For example, my strategy for fishing Pass Lake will be slightly different from that I apply at Lone Lake. Standing at the boat ramp at Pass, it is easy to observe the school of minnows that are grouped near shore with the occasional golden flash that darts through the cluster. I have not seen schools of baitfish at Lone, so the thought of tying on a minnow pattern and kicking it around the shallows has never entered my mind. Certainly both lakes share commonalities in their architecture and aquatic biomass, but both have unique attributes which justify employing slightly different stratagem. I wanted to start a thread where everyone both experienced and beginner can chime in and add their personal observations out on the water, identifying strategies that proved successful/unsuccessful and provide any other relevant information they wish to share.