Still-water trout fishing often requires getting a fly into a deep-water feeding zone, and holding that level for the entire retrieve. In the alpine ponds of the northern Sierras, California guide Jay Clark dials streamers, such as a Sheep Creek Special, into the subsurface sweet spot. “You have to do a little simple math with your line’s sink rate and how deep you want to fish before starting the retrieve,” Clark says. Once you’re in position, here’s how to keep your fly in the zone.
Strip enough line from the reel to reach your target and stack it on the tube’s stripping apron. Shake the rod tip back and forth to get enough line in the water for a short roll cast, then roll cast to straighten the line toward your target.
Lift the entire line and leader out of the water with a smooth, strong back cast. Let the line straighten out on the water behind you, and before it can sink, fire a forward cast to lay the line out straight over the target area.
You want the whole line to sink horizontally. Count as it sinks, and be patient. An intermediate line that sinks at 1 to 2 inches per second could take 30 seconds to reach the zone.
Retrieve the fly with quick, stop-and-start 2-inch strips. Don’t just jerk the line in. Imagine what the fly is doing underwater—darting, falling, and pausing as you manipulate the line. Keep the first 6 inches of the rod tip in the water to lessen the angle between the rod and the line; that will keep the fly working deep a bit longer.
Use a strip set to set the hook at any pause, heaviness, or sudden jolt. And don’t hesitate: In the open waters of a pond, you’re more likely to stick a fish than a log.
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Illustration by Jason Schneider