Lots of high water talk lately. Naturally, it's runoff. A lot of people don't enjoy fishing runoff for obvious reasons. Hard to a find "fishy" water, limited spots, brush, small windows, etc. Something that I have been doing during high water flows is trying to reduce the frustration of cluster f**ks. A life goal as well lol, but that's a different article. What I mean by reducing cluster f**ks is why try throwing summer rig tactics during runoff that can end up either A) in the brush or B) in the brush? Dry / dropper rigs are not as accurate to cast, double nymph rigs are not very precise, and even double dry rigs are not as accurate and get manipulated by the current too much. Fish are often tight to the banks, and windows of opportunity are small where the fish hold.
What I have done during high water periods is fish single flies. When margins are small pinpoint accuracy is the difference between fish and no fish. We are in cutthroat country, lots of folks love to fish dry / droppers, double nymph rigs, double drys, etc. Two flies ups your odds yes, but it also hinders accuracy and presentation. Small margins along the banks can be easily picked at with one fly on the end of your line. A sniper shot with a fast action rod, a single fly and you're in the fishes world now.
I'm a big fan of double flies overall because of the odds game. You can zero in on what they are eating that much faster. However, the other downsides to double flies (dries or nymphs) during high flows are fish getting caught on the second fly, or the second fly getting caught in the net / brush when releasing the fish. Not the end of the world, just adds to the frustration of simply hooking, landing, and releasing fish cleanly while dealing with turbulent water, a fast moving boat, brushy banks, etc. You get the idea.
Next time you are out keep it simple. A single dry, a single nymph, or a single streamer can make a day of fishing runoff easier, more manageable, and possibly just that much more productive.
- Sean Visintainer
High water fishing fan