Activities, Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing for Kids: Reading the Water

 We talked about drag on the water and spooking fish when casting but how do you find the fish in the first place?

A few basic bits of trout information:  trout seldom go far from their food source, they are known to be lazy and will rest behind objects, they need oxygen to survive so they will not be found in stagnant water and they like to be near the main current.  Current brings food to the trout but trout likes to be near or below the current.  They also are easily spooked and once spooked it’s game over. 

📌  Trout can be found in Lakes, Rivers, Streams but all waters require different setup for rod and fly presentation. 
Let’s talk about what we do when we go fly fishing to a familiar or new spot. It can not be stressed enough that when you first arrive, stop and observe before casting. You will spook the fish otherwise. 

This spot has dozens of trout
Approach the water and be prepared to “read the water.”  What this means is that you observe above and below to determine where fish might be. So, remember: Slow Approach, Slow Approach, Slow Approach.  
For our purposes, let’s talk about reading a river. 

Read the Water before Casting

Look at the river where it curves and watch for a current. There are five basic areas of a river: Eddy, Riffle, Run, Tailout and Pool. It’s  important to recognize these areas because trout can be easily be found in these areas.  Remember that trout are lazy and think about how food is delivered to them. 



Swirling reverse current often created by a downed log or a big rock on the riverbank. Trout love hanging out around downed logs or behind boulders because of an abundance of food but it’s easy to mess up your drag here and spook the fish.   

A rocky but shallow area in the stream of the current. Look for choppy surface or small whitewater over the rocks. This area is highly oxygenated and usually has many insects. A trouts dream location.


Deeper water with smooth currents that is after a Riffle.  Besides the Riffle, this is probably the second best place to find trout. They like the deep water found here.  They will lie at the bottom and eat insects from the current. 


This is the deepest and calmest part of the water. Trout will retreat here during hot days and also when spooked. It can be a challenge to fish this area.  You are better off fishing the areas around the pool such as the Riffle or Tailout.


This is the shallow area at the end of the Pool and before going into the next Riffle. This is a great area to look for Trout because the Tailout can be loaded with food. The problem with Tailouts is that it is super easy to spook trout here so you have to be careful of your shadow and appearance. 

This picture shows the Riffle and the Run

Other Ideas for Reading the Water:


A Seam is where two currents meet and usually trout can be found because food is being delivered downstream and upstream. Look for “bubbles” on the water to locate the Seam. 


Look at riverbanks for shade, downed logs, boulders and in the middle of the river for drop offs. Trout love each of these areas because food is delivered to these areas along with cool water, shade and defense from predators. 





Part One: Equipment | Part Two: Flies | Part Three: Reading the Water | Part Four: Casting

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