Downsize - Ultralight for results!

There is an article on my website titled small hooks really work. In the same thought process, downsizing your fly tackle will work wonders this time of year. The same concept really works all year long!

Recently I was on the water at a pond where I have enjoyed bursts of great fish catch and release activity, and days when fishing was slow. This year with temperatures holding chilly longer, I figured this pond would be the perfect test for true ultralight presentations with really light fly rods and small, tempting flies. Everything else failed and this method WORKED! Then again it almost always works.

The subject lake is about 12 acres in total, with a creek feeding the upper end, and another creek feeding the left middle portion of the upper end. In addition there are springs oozing water into the basin of the lake. The creeks have been sending silt and trash into the lake, and have created a very shallow upper flat. There is some woody cover on shoreline overhanging the area. In the upper end depths range from 6 inches to 2 feet. The upper end is seen above right.

The middle of the lake enjoys 4 to 8 feet of depth on a sloping flat with a creek channel on one side and lots of brush on the other. Toward the dam water depths max out at 21 feet.

With my ultralight rods, small flies, and light long tippets I can cover the top 6 to 8 feet of the water column. That was my goal.

I decided to show up and test my theory on the fish. Water temps were just in the upper 50s. It was a sunny day and I rigged my T&T 8 foot 2 inch rod with one of my best performers, a small leggy nymph pattern that I created about 20 years ago. I also fished my Orvis Superfine Touch 1 weight with the same nymph tied on. Both rods worked very well. I tied my nymph on with an 8 foot leader and added 2 feet of fine diameter 5 pound tippet. About 10 feet in all, designed to let my little fly sink.

Then I began probing water. I turned from the launch area and headed to the shallows looking for the warmest sun drenched water. It wasn't long before I had hooked a fat bluegill (left) which felt as cold as an ice cube. I began to believe that I was onto something here. This has worked for me consistently in the past. Cold water, small flies, use slow deep presentation and catch fish. I continued.

Methodically probing chilly water all around the lake to the dam and back around several times, I found cold fun fish scattered, but willing to sip in my fly. There were no big strikes and many "takes" were almost imperceptable.

By fishing ultralight tackle, I could see or feel even the lightest attemp at taking my fly. The result was 102 fish caught in about 6 hours of intense fishing! No - a 3 weight or heavier tackle typically won't let you do this effectively. The most effective rods are 1 weights to 3/0 weights.

I caught a cross section of bluegills and bass, from really small to large. It was amazing to find so many fish available while they were still not really active. I have seen this many times, and that is the reason I've made you aware of this process. Most of the time IN ANY CONDITIONS fish are available. One just has to understand what fishing process will produce fish. The BASS crowd calls this "finesse" fishing. I've never been sure why. I just call this ultralight fishing and I know it works!

Consider this article when you head out to your still chilly favorite waters. If you follow this suggestion, it will produce results.

Bill Byrd