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Put a fly in that pocket!
  |  First Published: December 2013



Pocket water is a term used to describe a section of river that consists of broken, well-oxygenated water.

It contains plenty of rocks and boulders, creating multiple current lines and slack water behind the rocks. This type of water is often found where the gradient of a river steepens, and therefore is very common in the headwaters of a river.

The large amounts of cover where trout can hold means the head of fish in this sort of water is often greater than elsewhere in the same river.

Pocket water is generally under-fished in comparison with the main runs and pools in the river. It is that little bit more difficult to fish and the nature of the water keeps the bait and lure anglers away.

The best waters to search are the runs and chutes where food will become concentrated by the rocks and boulders, as well the slacker water where fish will be holding out of the main current.

Due to the nature of pocket water, you are able to get very close to the fish.

This eliminates the need for long casting. Instead, a short, accurate cast is advantageous and gives the angler greater control when fishing the fly.

The multiple currents across the river can make it difficult to get a drag-free drift.

To overcome this, checking the rod at the end of each cast and keeping a high rod angle will allow you to keep your fly line off the water. This enables you to reach over currents, eliminating the need for lots of mending.

As always, try to keep a low profile, especially considering how close you are to the fish.

When playing fish, try to keep the fight short. In this water there are plenty of sticks that get washed downstream and become lodged under rocks that the fish can get around and lose you on.

For me, fly selection is less important than a well-presented, drag-free fly.

I fish a few patterns that I have confidence in, such as the Elk Hair Caddis, Red Tag, Klinkhammer and the F-Fly.

However, I carry all of them in a range of sizes, usually 12, 14 and 16.

UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS

At times earlier in the season, and after rain, the water can rise and become discoloured.

As you would expect, this reduces your chances of picking up fish on the single dry.

In these conditions, it can be deadly to suspend a nymph beneath a dry by tying a section of tippet to the shank of the dry fly hook, or to fish your dry off a dropper and then fish a nymph on the point.

When choosing a nymph, try to match the colour of your fly to the colour of the water. It can be hard to go past a Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear nymph.

As far as the gear, I like to fish with a 10’ #4 rod with a double-taper fly line with a 12’ tapered leader.

Often you find the longer rod gives you extra reach when fishing, which you will greatly appreciate when you are trying to fish that lovely pocket on the other side of a fast run.

Remember to keep that line off the water and keep the flies drag-free, and I’m sure you’ll have as much fun catching trout out of the tight runs and pockets as I do!

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