Fly fishing is soothing, relaxing, and calm, which makes it a popular pastime. Fly fishing is common in both rivers and lakes, but the lack of current in a lake means you need to use some different techniques to catch fish.
Lakes are also deeper than streams or rivers which means there is more protection for fish which can make fly fishing a little trickier.
However, because fish need food and insects will swim closer to vegetation (and therefore the surface), fly fishing in a lake can be very rewarding.
When to Fly Fish in a Lake
Fish that live in lakes tend to prefer feeding at night. For you, this means they will be out of their protective zones and searching the shallows and surfaces for food.
Another reason to fish at night is that hatches typically occur as the sun is setting and into the night. The moon provides just enough light for fish to search for insects and they feel much bolder under the protection of darkness.
If you are going to fly fish a lake during the day, then consider fishing in shaded areas as fish feel safer and more likely to visit the surface of the lake.
Where to Fly Fish in a Lake
Fishing in densely weeded areas is ideal, again because fish prefer to swim in protected spaces. In addition to weeded areas, fish anywhere that streams or rivers empty into the lake as the currents will likely be carrying fish as they travel around.
If fishing during the daylight, opt for shaded areas or anywhere there are larger obstructions like logs and rocks.
Most lake fishing is done from a boat or float tube because the opportunity to find fish is greater towards the middle of the lake, especially during the day.
How to Fly Fish in a Lake
When fish start to rise at dusk, you should have good luck casting dry flies but you need to have a long leader since fish will have more time to look at your fly. When fishing during the day, try using nymphs near weeds and close to shore to be more successful.
It is also more effective to cast from the middle of the lake rather than the shore. Using float tubes are a great way to do this in deeper lakes and can cost between $75 and $300.The tube keeps you afloat, waist-high out of the water and you wear find to move around.
The rod you use for fly fishing a lake will differ from the one you use in a stream. Depending on the size of the fish, wind, and line choice, 4 to 7 weight rods are best for lake fishing.
Longer rods will work better with floating and slow-sinking lines as they allow for a longer working distance between the fly and indicator. For casting faster-sinking weight lines, you should choose a shorter rod.
The best presentation technique to use in lake fishing is the hang, where the rod is raised and paused before recasting. This tempts any nearby fish to follow the fly.
When it comes to lines, a floating line is best for lake fly fishing. Striking lines are also good because they give you more control over the presentation with regards to speed of retrieval and depth.
Reels act more like a storage system when fishing in lakes. Fish in lakes can grow large, especially trout, and they are capable of taking you into your backing. Because of this, you want a reel with a smooth drag system and interchangeable spool to hold different flues. Make sure you also have at least 50 yards of backing.
Tips to help you Fly Fish in a Lake
Lakes can be challenging to fly fishermen because they do not give any hints as to where the fish are hanging out.
The lack of currents makes it tricky to identify their movement and there are more deep spaces for fish to hide.
- Watch the birds: birds like to feed on hatching insects as do fish. Scan the lake to see where there are birds hovering close to shore and you will also find plenty of fish in the area too.
- Pay attention to temperature: Water temperature affects insect hatches and they need a specific temperature for emergence. The most intense hatching occurs between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. At these ideal temperatures, insects of different species will hatch, which serves as a buffet for fish and a good fishing spot for you.
- Fly selection: Research the lake you are going to and find out what insects the fish in that area eat. Knowing the insects of the area can help you choose more effective flies to cast. Make sure you have a wide array of flies in your box that includes both generic imitations of food as well as refined patterns that cover popular food sources.
- Watch the water: Lake water is flat and still but the smallest movements can help you identify fish. Emerging insects will cause small patterns of ripples along the surface. Trout that are feeding on minnows will also create rises in the water as they swim through schools. You can also use polarized sunglasses to help you see below the surface for shoals, drop-offs, and bugs.
- Keep rod tips low: Because the fish in lakes are moving when the water is not, keeping your rod low increases the probability of takes. The success of getting a hit depends on the fly you choose as well as the presentation and how you move your fly through the water.
The sport of fly fishing requires patience but is a popular pastime for those looking to relax.
Fly fishing in a lake gives you access to bigger fish that stay in deeper waters as well as those that cruise the more shallow areas.
No longer is fly fishing just for rivers and streams as the lakes can give you all the action you are looking for.