Fly Fishing Small To Medium Sized Stillwaters For Trout

Fly Fishing stillwaters for Trout is one of my favourite things to do, apart from small stream fly fishing for wild Rainbows. To be successful and catch lots of Trout in small to medium sized stillwaters, the fly angler needs to be quite proactive. Firstly, you need the right fly tackle. I often see fly anglers using very heavy rods and weighted line on small to medium sized stillwaters. This is really not necessary, and a rod between a 4 and 6 weight would be perfect for this application. If you start going heavier, you loose a lot of the fun of fighting Trout.

Rainbow Trout On A Tough Day Trout Fishing


The weight of rod you would choose is dependent on the distance you are looking to cast and the amount of wind there general is on the body of water you are fly fishing. My ideal set up for fly fishing stillwaters would be a 9 foot 5 weight rod. I like the 9-foot because it gives me more distance in the cast, thus allowing me to make fewer false casts to empty out my reel.

The deeper parts of the stillwater are best fished with fast sinking line. The fish are often deep down in the reed beds, so you need to get down to the fish. When fishing these areas I like to use weighted flies such as Woolly Buggers, Fritz’s and Damsels (Tied with a bead head or copper wire). These mimic what the fish are feeding on along the bottom. One fly is sufficient for this application, but one can add a small nymph to the fly set up, as the big and bulky flies often get a lot of attention, and patterns not presented well will not fool the fish. Trout feed on all sizes of prey, but most of their diet is made up of smaller organisms, which is why a nymph is ideal.

The heat of the day is the best time to target these deeper waters, and don’t be shy to let your line sink all the way to the bottom and strip it as quickly as possible back in.

In the mornings and evenings there are often hatches (Both underwater and on the surface) in the shallow waters. This is the best time to fish your floating line. Stay as low as possible and try and sight fish. Cast at rises and keep false casts to a minimum. If you can get to the area where you see a fish patrolling or rising, then a one or two cast is the best way to go. Anything more than that and you are likely to spook the fish. General patterns such as the DDD, Yellow Humpy, Adams and the Black Gnat are the best flies for this time of day (For general hatches). If the fish are rising, try and mimic the colour and size of the insect they are eating.

3kg Male Cock Rainbow Trout

Good size small stillwater Rainbow Trout


An absolute winner is to tie a small suspender buzzer or nymph (Size 14 -18) under your dry fly. The fish often get attracted to the floating fly and turn away, and we have noticed that 9 times out of 10 they will take a smaller sub surface fly after they have looked at the Dry and refused it.

Stillwater Trout in South African waters range in size between a few hundred grams and 3 kilograms, and there are a lot of bigger fish out there than that to catch. So tight lines, and good luck fly fishing stillwaters!

Fly Fishing Small To Medium Stillwaters

Fly Fishing A Dullstroom Stillwater

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