Whenever people seek me out to help them enjoy fly fishing, a common theme is their perception of a day on the water. The runaway winner is a mental picture of standing in a river casting a fly line (wearing waders is something most people are keen on, that’s another topic entirely). Yet in the UK, most fly fishing over a year is done on stillwaters, ranging from small pools to large reservoirs and natural lakes. Conversely in the USA, fly fishing rivers is dominant, despite having a tremendous stillwater resource.
For me the really interesting observation is, most UK fly fishers would suggest river fishing to be harder than lake. While most US fly fishers would say lakes are harder to fly fish than rivers. No doubt this is largely down to a combination of the familiar being easier and our own interpretations.
When it comes to fly fishing in general, I remember the path to casting well, as a long road. It only took a huge leap forward when I accepted practice would make a huge difference. However, casting only matters if you know where the fish are! Once you know what fish need, their location in a river becomes easy to decipher. The visual cues are everywhere. Watch any experienced river fly fisher and they pick holding water effortlessly.
Look at a lake! It’s equally readable, the visual cues enabling us to pick it apart are there, they are however a lot more subtle. I know for me the visual aspect of fly fishing is a huge thrill. So it would not surprise me if the subtlety of watercraft on lakes made many people less interested in lake fishing or even perceive it to be nothing more than “chuck and chance fishing”. That of course is a big mistake and the reason so many people fail on stillwaters!
In reality rivers and lakes provide the fly fisher with absorbing challenges, they are just different and place different demands on our skill set. So if lakes are a mystery, checkout the video above.
Enjoy the journey!