Mountain Streams in Japan 2: In Action

22 Jan Mountain Streams in Japan 2: In Action

There are many small mountain streams in Japan consist of free rocks and fast running water. They look really small and almost impossible to believe fish are in there, but there are small spots within each pocket that can hold many fish.

A. Spotting

For instance, could you guess how many fish I pulled out in below pocket consists of pool, swirls, and run? Whole pocket is no deeper than 1 m and some part is ankle shallow.

Answer: 8 fish including above 30cm landlocked salmon who broke the tippet.
What about where fish actually reacted to fly?

A dozen pink spots mark where fish went to fly drifting. Even water this skinny, fish ought to position themselves suspending for breathing or wait for drifting food, yet they prefer where they can quickly hide for cover from birds from above or predators from bank.

Fish can be found where:

1) Good concentration of oxygen and drifting food are present
2) Close enough to take cover under rock or rough water

But some fish are not engaging with what’s on surface or hiding deep under the rock.
No matter how many fish you have in one pocket, only select number of fish who are engaging with surface can be fished.

Therefore you have to present your fly to where:

3) Surface of water is clear enough to see what flies or drifts on top


B. Drifting

In above picture, I spotted 2 landlocked salmons in the pink spots. However, they didn’t take the fly right where they are. I am too close to fish, so my presence already alerted them.

I had to give this much lead and let it drift naturally until salmons finally gave up and fell back to take the fly.  How to drift a fly naturally in fast water like this long enough for salmons to take them? You could spend hours to master super trick cast, but there is simple solution. You could:

4) Extend the length of tippet for another 6 feet or more

Extended tippet creates a slack and this slack buy you time for longer drift and distance without dragging your fly. How to cast your leader to do this?

You lay the leader in reverse U shape then let the tippet drop in crumbled form so that it creates lots of slack.

C. Recommended Tackle & Line System?

From straight forward current to swirl pool, you ought to keep mending your fly line to stay out of fish’s sight before fish buy in to your presentation. Thus you’d want to use double tapered line. To minimize the impact to water, I would use 1-3wt line.

I knot my own leader using fluorocarbon line for it holds more momentum to turn over long tippet and air resistant fly. 6 feet of 30lb for butt and 2 feet x 3 sections (16lb, 8lb, and 4lb) to form quick taper. Finally,  I knot 6 feet of 2lb nylon for tippet. You need to use nylon as tippet to let it float not to drag your fly when you mend the entire line system.

D. Pros & Cons of Long Tippet System

 You could always sneak close enough not to alert fish to make things easy, but in small mountain stream like this, it’s impossible to keep doing painfully slow motion all the time.  Extending tippet, however, will give you sure trouble. Wind knots, kinks, tangles… you need to continuously amend the tippet.
This method will free you from sneaking all the time, and make you able to walk and fish with dignity. In return, you ought to manage tippet.