In Search of Fish – Part 1 – Casting on the Grid.

8 Apr
Grid Casting.

A grid-casting approach goes along with French nymphing. (A. Barthelemy) From The

The scenario: New water.  The problem: Where to locate fish. The approach: Upstream nymphing in a grid pattern.

Whether this is your first time on a new stretch of water, or the water has just changed (like my favorite stream that is flowing about double speed right now) you have to find out where the fish are.  Now there are many ways to do this, some are better than others.  Over the next few posts I will talk about a few approaches.

When dealing with riffles or pools that run from 2 to 6 feet deep and especially in stained water, I like to use a grid pattern to locate structure and hopefully fish.  In clear water you can see rocks, logs, and ridges that hold fish.  In stained water you have to feel your way around with your flies, kinda like reading by braille.

The approach is easy. Get set up downstream of the riffle, start with the bank or other juicy structure that is a comfortable cast away from you.  Let your fly or flies drift towards you about a wingspan length.  What do I mean…. Once you cast very gently pinch the line with your line hand. As the flies drift toward you keep the rod pointed toward the flies and continue to move your line hand out to the side and back behind you letting the line slide through your fingers.  This takes up a large amount of line, roughly 8 feet.  The idea is to keep tight to your flies and  pull them through the current just slightly faster than the flow. This makes it easy to detect strikes.  Repeat in a fan pattern until you are casting 45 degrees from the flow.

Depending on the width of the area you want to fish your next step is a few steps either straight upstream, or a few steps across the stream. Repeat until you have a fish on.

This technique is very easy with an indicator, but you do have to keep relatively tight to the indicator and you shouldn’t use overly long drifts.  If you let too much slack develop you can’t set the hook when your indicator stops.

What I like about this technique is that it gives you a good feel for what is under the water, locating rocks and bumps that are not always visible.  It can be hard on flies and tippets, as tapping along the bottom is a great way to get caught on stuff, so check those often.  To avoid hooking the bottom often I use jig flies or Czech nymphs as they ride hook point up, most of the time.

While this is a great way to find fish in high or stained water what I like to really use it for is mapping.  In my journal I draw a picture of the bend or riffle and note the bumps humps and places that I lost flies along the way.  Next time I head out to that stretch of water I have the notes and diagram to work from.  It sure does help when I see a nice hatch and want to use a dry fly. Knowing where the prime lies are really helps dial-in those perfect drift presentations.

Stay tuned for Part II – Fishing Structure.



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