06 - Top Tips & Best Flies for Low Water Summer Fly Fishing
Intense heat and low rainfall can make for some of the most demanding conditions of all when fly fishing.
So what can you do to improve the odds?
Here are some tips from the Flies Online team, along with a selection
of the best fly patterns for low water conditions and fussy trout.
You may already know the feeling. You’ve waited all year for free time and fine weather. You imagine beautiful sunny days and effortless fishing. If only it was that simple! In truth, high summer can bring challenging conditions for fly fishing. Stillwater trout grow lethargic and hard to catch; meanwhile, river fish become shy and elusive as river levels drop and clear.
So, what can we do about it? Well, there are various answers, from changing our approach to changing the venues we fish. The right flies will also go a long way; more on this later with some excellent patterns for high summer. Here are some expert tips to keep you catching:
- Find the faster water
In most rivers, the flow and temperature will vary more than ever. The slow, warm areas are likely to be devoid of trout. Aim for the faster parts, which will be richer in oxygen.
- Hit the shade and “pocket” water
Another effect of low water levels is that fish feel more wary. They literally have less water to hide in from predators, so cover becomes even more important. Look for broken water, boulders and other sanctuaries. Just like us, fish like shade on a hot day, too, so overhanging trees and bushes are well worth a look.
- Keep low and wade with care
With less water and clearer conditions, we can be detected by fish very easily. Wading is therefore a tricky business. Some spots are best covered from the bank, ducking low to keep off the skyline. Even where you must wade, be light on your feet and do so at a snails pace!
- Finer tippets, smaller flies
Even mid-sized fishing flies look huge when the water is low and clear. Moreover, high summer is a time when hatches of tiny insects like midges come to play. Scale right down to avoid suspicion- and do the same with your leaders and tippets.
- Broaden your fishing diet!
Stillwater trout fishing, in particular, can become bitterly tough on a baking hot day. Why not mix things up and try something different? Fish such as carp, rudd (above) and chub are far more active on warm days, not to mention less fragile in the heat than trout. Take a look at our flies for coarse fish for some excellent patterns to try.
- Terrestrials come to the fore
Summer is not always about tricky fishing when it comes to hatches. It is also the peak of the year for non-waterborne creatures. This is especially true on bushy waters and breezy days, whether you try rivers or lakes. Small beetle patterns and hoppers are as good a place as any to start.
- Fish care is key
Warmer water means less dissolved oxygen and potentially a stressful time for fish. So, in summer more than any other time of year, you simply MUST take extra care of your catch. As much as possible, try and keep fish in the water and handle as little as possible. If they have fought hard, always support them upright in the water on release, waiting patiently for them to recover.
Keep it covered
Last but not least, do look after yourself too when it is hot! A decent hat is one of the best investments you’ll make. Also, don’t forget your polarising glasses, sun block and plenty of water; you should be drinking at least a couple of litres on a hot day.
Six of the Best Flies for Hot Weather and Low Water
When rivers and streams run painfully clear and shallow, our typical fly arsenal changes dramatically. Small sizes and flies with subtle profiles are called for to winkle out bites from fish that are sure to be wary. These five should set you in good stead- and we’ve chosen a mixture of our favourite wet and dry flies for summer fishing here.
Smaller flies are the way to go in hot weather and low water; the above picture shows flies on a cooking match for scale. All the patterns shown range from 16 to 20 as follows (L to R):
- Beadhead Lite Brite Prince Nymph: (Dark Olive) £0.75 Usually, this classic nymph is seen in larger sizes, but we stock it right down to a size 20!
- Micro Beadhead (Grey) £0.75 Perfect for fishing “New Zealand” style in shallower water. Very subtle in a size 18 or 20. One of the very best wet flies for low water trout fishing.
- Hi-Viz Olive Klinkhamer £0.95 For those who struggle to spot tiny dry flies, this is an excellent choice. Find it right down to a tidy little size 18 in our range.
- No Wonder Fly- BWO £0.95 Another superb dry fly combining visibility with a perfect small size- we stock these right down to a 22, ideal for the skinniest water and fussiest of trout!
- Black Midge £0.85 One of our best sellers, it’s always wise to have a few small midges in your box for river or lake fishing in summer.
- Grey Hen & Greenwell £0.95 Classic dry flies are always a joy to use; but often a pain to get in smaller sizes for low water and fussy fish. Now at FliesOnline! This little killer is perfect in a 16.