Runs vs. Pools

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April 13, 2021 by Art of the Angle

It never ceases to amaze me how so many flyfishers will walk past beautiful runs and track straight to the deeper pools and pockets on the stream. There are so many opportunities missed and a lot of potential fish left on the proverbial table.

Yes, runs and riffles do present challenges that sight casting to a pod of fish does not. However, isn’t that why we call it fishing and not catching? If we are going to take the time to perfect our angling techniques and invest insane amounts of money in rods, reels and flies, shouldn’t we at least take the time to trial and error?

oh the endless opportunities this run holds!

In the photo above, you see a typical trout stream run. On days when I am scouting for trout and not just fishing, I watch quite a few anglers stroll past this area and not even give it a look. But later when I see those same anglers on their way back down from the big bend pools, they report not having caught anything even though the fish were present.

Moving water provides fish with increased oxygen, ample food opportunities and protection by camouflage. The benefit to the angler is being less likely to be seen or felt and a higher hook up rate due to the limited time the fish gets to decide whether or not they want to eat.

a beautiful spot but limited opportunities.

Slower moving or deeper pockets and pools make it more difficult to hide yourself and every movement or sound you make is amplified thereby spooking fish that are already leery and without adequate protection. In addition of slow moving water, fish have the advantage of being able to inspect your offering more closely instead of the impulsive take.

That is not to say that there are not times where fishing slow, quiet water is more advantageous like in the early mornings or late evenings when the hatch activity is on and the fish throw caution to the wind, but these times are few and you have to hit them at just the right time of day and season.

Lastly, fly selection and tippet sizes will vary too. For instance, fishing moving water will allow for larger dry flies and slightly heavier tippets. Fishing slower moving water or pools requires longer, finer tippets and flies that need to match the hatching insects more closely.

As an old friend of mine would always say; “it takes all kinds to make a world” and if fishing pools is more your taste, no one is going to judge. But to cheat yourself out of a productive day on the water by passing up runs in leu of the pools seems a shame.

Tight Lines!

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