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Delaney Buttes North Lake, North Park, Walden, Colorado

  flyfishingthings.com/Delaney Buttes North Lake Walden ColoradoAs most people know, lakes come in all sizes and depths. Most lakes are fed by springs or ground seepage and/or have a water source that flows into and out of them. Areas of in flow are great places to fish, because they bring food in to the lake.  Plus, the action of the in flow causes bubbling to occur which oxygenates the water. At times when the lake water temperature reaches above the trout's prime comfort range, the trout will seek out any area in the lake where the water is cooler (which means depth) or has more oxygen.

In lakes, trout cruise (mostly the shore line) to find food, where as in a stream, the current brings the food to the trout. It's good practice to stop and observe for cruising trout before you wade in and start casting. 

Most trout foods, such as insects, crustaceans, leeches, snails, and minnows are born and live in water from one to six feet deep--depending on the clarity of the water.  The deeper the sunlight reaches into the depths, the more potential plant life, and bio-mass may exist.

 Inlets, flats, points, islands, shallow bays, jetties, dams, slopes of talus rock extending down into the water, shorelines, weed and moss beds, and channels adjacent to shallows are all prime fishing areas.  Seek out and fish these areas first. 
 One of the basic principle's for fly-fishing in a lake is: the fly-fisherman moves the fly, where as in a stream, the current moves the fly.

Wade fishing from the shore line can be a great way to fish a lake.  A lot of fish can be caught this way. However, the shore line in its self, may restrict the amount of area that can be effectively fished.  Another problem that can arise from shore fishing, is that a prime fishing area may be occupied with too many fishermen. Regardless, there are times when fishing from shore is the only way to go; like when trout are cruising in search of damsel nymphs, scuds, or baby crayfish, or chasing minnows.  Site fishing for trout this way, can be thrilling, and will sharpen your presentation skills along with your fish hooking ability.

Fishing from shore has its place, but the most pleasurable, and productive way to fish a lake is out of a float tube, U-boat, kick boat or raft (watercraft) Check out Cabelas pontoon boats. The problem of crowding or too many fishermen cease to exist when fishing out of a watercraft. See my page on the pros and cons of  Float tubes, U-boats,  Kick-boats and Rafts.  Flippers are used to propel these “boats”.flyfishingthings.com/caddis fins
Here's what you need to know when fishing from a watercraft.

First, to be prepared, you should have at least three kinds of fly lines:
  (1) floating line, (2) #1 sinking line and (3) #3 sinking line.  If the trout are taking insects at or just below the surface use the floating line.  When fishing over a weed bed; use the #1 sinking line.  To search the water column from top to bottom use the # 3 sinking line.  Having different fly lines for different purposes should be obvious,  but I have seen many fly-fisherman fish lakes with only a floating line.  With a floating line
If the fish are not feeding at or just below the surface, it may be a long wait between fish.

  flyfishingthings.com/U-boat fishingHowever,if a hatch is happening and the fish are active on the surface, use a floating line.  If you spot a fish that is cruising and picking off flies, try and determine which direction he’s heading and cast far enough in front not to spook him, then wait for the take. If two or three fish rise in the same area within casting range, pick one and cast to it.

When a hatch is in full bloom the surface of the lake will come alive with fish. Fish will be rising all around you. Don’t get excited!  You can’t catch them all.  Control your emotions, pick a target and make a good cast.  Controlling your excitement is real important at a time like this. Most hatches only last about 20 or 30 minuets. If you get excited and hook you’re clothing, or tangle your line, or break a fish off, or something stupid like that, you’ll be cursing yourself because by the time you’re ready to cast again the hatch may be over.  Believe me when I say, there is no experience in the world like fly-fishing in the midst of a full blown hatch when the fish are feeding like crazy, and you-have-the-right-fly-on.
 It is joy inexpressible. 

In the last few years a new lake fly-fishing technique has arisen.  I call it bobber fishing.  It goes something like this:  the fly-fisherman using a floating line with a long leader,  attaches a bobber or floating strike indicator to the leader three to four feet up from the fly.  He cast the line out and allows the fly to sink and then does nothing but wait until a trout swims along and eats his fly.  If a hatch is happening and the fisherman has the right fly tied on, this technique is deadly.  If a hatch isnt happening, the fisherman may be in for a long wait. 

This is bobber fishing, not fly-fishing!  You can bobber fish with a spinning rod, fly and a bubble.

  I've fished right along with these bobber fishermen, and my hook-up rate was just as frequent (any many times more so) using conventional methods.
But, hey, who am I to complain.  If bobber fly-fishing works for you; go for it.  The objective is to catch fish---right?  Moving on.

In lake fly-fishing there are three
basic retrieving techniques.  (1) The hand twist retrieve. (2) Stripping the fly using various strip lengths and sequences.  (3) Trolling.

Trolling of course, just involves casting about thirty feet of the line behind your “boat”, and then kicking with your flippers to troll the fly until you get a strike. Trolling is a good way to locate fish. The speed of your troll depends on how deep you want the line to sink. It’s important that you don’t kick to fast. You should experiment with speed.

To give you an idea about how fast to troll the fly, try this: from a standing position, begin walking, taking 12 inch steps in sync with saying to yourself, one hundred thousand and one, one hundred thousand and two, one hundred thousand and three and so forth. This would be a good speed to begin trolling with. Try trolling for three counts, then pause for two counts. Some days you'll find that you can’t kick slow enough, while other days the strike won’t come, unless you’re moving the fly  fast. Most of the time, however, slow is good.

When you get a strike, or catch a fish, stop and fish that area. Maintain your position, and beginning probing the water with casts in all directions. Keep fishing the area until you quit catching fish, then move to another area and repeat.  Never leave fishing to go fishing.

 Striping a fly line in a lake is a lot like stripping a fly line in a stream; just make sure the strips are smooth and not jerky.
  First, try to duplicate the speed of the fly imitation you’re fishing. For example, if you’re fishing a leech, try to move the fly like a leech.  If you're fishing a streamer, swim the fly at minnow swimming speed, so on and so forth. 

 
Insects swim from the bottom of the lake to the surface using short burst of speed, then stop and suspend for a few seconds, then start moving again. To imitate insect swimming speed (calibetus for example) make the cast, let the line sink for a count of twelve, then begin the retrieve with a long (3 foot) smooth slow strip, pause for 3 or 4 seconds and repeat.  If there’s a fish within sight of your fly, and the fly is a good imitation of what’s hatching, you should catch the fish. 

To imitate the swimming of big lake caddis (sedges) which are pretty fast swimmers;
make a series of 7 strips, then pause and repeat until you retrieve the line all the way in. By the way, get in the habit of retrieving the line all the way to the boat.  Many times a fish will follow the fly until it stops, then eat it when it starts moving again. This kind of strike is what happens when you retrieve the fly all the way to the boat, pause the fly, and then start the pick up of the line to cast.  The strike will come as you slowly lift the fly out of the water. Reason; the fly is ascending. Remember, trout eat flies that are swimming from the bottom up to the surface.

Lastly,  a fast, repetitive, one-inch strip, can be very effective imitating emerging caddis. Again, pause the fly after a few strips, then resume. I've seen insects do this many times.  They swim for a few seconds, then stop and hang for a few seconds, then resume swiming.


The hand twist retrieve is used to fish leech imitations, scuds, and various midge imitations. To hand twist retrieve grab the line between your thumb and forefinger. Rotate the hand towards the body clockwise while reaching and grabbing the line using the last three fingers, then rotate the hand away from the body counter clockwise while reaching and grabbing the line again with the thumb and forefinger, and so forth, and so on.

 So, there you have it.  Apply what you've learned here, and you should be successful fly-fishing for trout in a lake.

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