During the summer months, the water is often low and clear and so a quiet, stealthy approach can be the key to success. Deep wading, especially in low water can disturb and spook any salmon in the pools. As fly fishers, we are always striving to get a few extra yards of extra distance when casting, so we can cover more water. The natural thing to do you would think is to wade that bit deeper. However, by deep wading often anglers are doing more harm than good.
It is easy to spook fish when the water is low during the summer months.
There are several reasons why wading deeply when it is not necessary is counterproductive and often dangerous. Firstly, and most importantly we have to look at the safety aspect. If you are going to fall into the water when wading and let’s be honest most of us have at one time or another, it is much safer to fall in shallower water than in water which is at chest depth. Usually, when wading ankle or shin deep, the current is also much less, so it is more likely that you will be able to get out of the water safely, with nothing more than your pride dented.
Apart from safety, there are also tactical reasons why you don’t want to wade any deeper than what is deemed to be necessary. Firstly, deep wading, especially the first time when fishing down a pool can spook any fish lying in the shallower water. Secondly, the deeper you wade; the more difficult it is to Spey cast a longer line and achieve greater distance.
A mouth watering salmon pool on a Scottish river where deep wading is not required.
It is very difficult to generalise when wading down a salmon pool, as each pool is different. Some pools don’t require any wading at all, whereas others do. It all depends on where the fish are likely to be lying in the pool. If time allows, always try and fish down the pool twice, especially if you are the first angler to fish the pool that day. Often fish can lie quite high up in a run or in surprisingly shallow water if they have been undisturbed overnight. This is especially the case in the summer months when the water is low and often the fish are lying in the head of a run in the more oxygenated water. On the first time down the pool, you should try to keep wading to a minimum, if at all, and cover all the water close to the near bank. Often the water being covered is no more than thigh depth. After fishing the pool down while wading at a shallow depth, then it is worthwhile going back to the head of the pool and starting again. This time if necessary you can wade that bit deeper to about knee or thigh depth. All you are then doing is wading through the water which you have already fished through previously. On the deeper wade, you are fishing new water, covering different lies, always knowing in the back of your mind that you have already covered any fish that may have been lying in the shallows.
Keep wading to a minimum on the first time down the pool.
Another reason why it is better not to wade any deeper than is necessary is that it makes Spey casting more difficult and this can result in not being able to achieve as great a distance when casting. Much of the distance gained when Spey casting is by forming a tight but large D loop behind you. If you are wading up to your chest, it is very difficult to form a large tight D loop and hence you can lose distance when casting. This is because there is much less distance (or clearance) between the tip of the fly rod and where the line is sitting on the water. So, there is no space for a large D loop to be formed.
It is easier to cast further when keeping wading to a minimum.
As humans, we want to be able to cast the furthest, wade the deepest and catch the biggest. Wading the deepest and casting the furthest does not always go hand in hand with catching the biggest or the most. It is about having a more subtle approach when wading and fly fishing, especially during the summer months. It is always worthwhile fishing the shallower water close to the bank first, if circumstances allow, especially early the morning, when the pool has not been disturbed. Then on your second-time fishing down the pool at least you can confidently say that you have covered any fish that have been lying in the shallower water without disturbing them.
The stunning end result when it all comes together!
Adopting this approach and watching your wading will often lead to more success when chasing silver.