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Ronan's report

Thursday 8th September, 2011

Here's a finish up to Fast Times from last week. If you've got any sort of fast freestone water around (down the canyon maybe?) then this can pay for a couple more months until the cold sets in.

High sticking is a great method of short tight touch nymphing of pockets and the tumbling currents of boulder-filled rivers. It's also great for small stoney pocket streams though you need more stealth.

Pockets, the soft water in rapids and runs behind stones and obstacles, are typically 1-3 rods long. While the eye seems tempting, it's a little exposed for a resting lie and doesn't usually have enough current for a good feeding lie. The side seams, the head stone's lee (especially if some water is plunging over), and if the pocket doesn't shallow up the pillow in front of the next obstacle often hold better fish but fish it all. You worked hard to get there!

The basic technique is to upstream nymph the top section, lift and sweep the flies past you, then swing and lift out through the bottom. Feed out a rod length plus a few feet from the tiptop to your flies downstream, get yourself across from the pocket and within reach of the head stone. Raise the rod a bit to get the weight up and lob the flies over the current up to the top trying to land in the first start of the seam. Keep the line up out of the fast water but give a few seconds of slack to allow the flies to sink, then lead the flies down the seam with a slight bow in the leader. With enough weight you'll keep tight enough to feel bumps and they'll get down traveling fairly slow. Strike not up or out of the water but downstream in the direction you're leading the flies! Any other direction will add slack and even with some of the hard takes in this type of water, it matters. As the flies near, raise the tip and guide them, let them pass giving line then allow them to swing out possibly lifting if they near a suspect lie. Reach, extend, or step and repeat until you've covered the entire pocket. Be sure to hit the back of the head stone. Yes, I mean HIT it! Or lay your flies over the stone and slowly draw them over the top so they drop directly behind it. Give them a moment (there shouldn't be any current there so they'll sink right down), then draw them slowly out. Even hiding fish will grab hold before they escape! Also drop into any white water that you think might have some depth beneath it. Rolling white water doesn't have near the drag you think it might if you keep the line off it.

Good luck and enjoy the cool rushing water!


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