Why fly fish in the Adirondacks?
The Adirondacks are the home to over 30,000 miles of rivers and streams and 3,000 plus lakes. The West Branch Ausable is internationally know for it's fly fishing waters due to it's steep and deep free stone river waters and plentiful pocket water sections. It's the ideal setting for fly fishing with it's sky line, water movement, and wildlife. On any given day you could spot a moose, bear, otter, beavers, or water foul.
Our region offers diverse options for access points creating an advantage over other locations for fly fishing. Both easy pull-in locations where you can fish in a serene setting just steps from your car to trail options where you can hike a boat into the backcountry and fish a lake which holds native brook trout and lake trout.
The art of fly fishing
There are a variety of reasons people are drawn to fly fishing, a sport in many ways different from spin fishing. Fly fishing, similar to golf, is a skill of methodical rhythm, flow, and knowledge. Disciplined in essence, there is an evolution of experience and skill that can be enjoyed over a lifetime. It's the thrill and exactness needed to catch the fish that is steadily refined. Fly fishing coincides with the concept of finding the meaning of life in a single cast.
People come from all over the world to fish the Ausable River in the Adirondacks. They come for the hope and experience of getting a holdover fish by reading the water, utilizing their practiced rhythmic patterns, and tactics like "match the hatch", which means you identify the insects currently active in the river system and tie a resemblance to fool the fish.
The 3 essential parts to fly fishing are:
- The cast
The fly fishing cast has a unique feel of it's own with a long weighted line and flexible rod. The only way to understand the roll is to experience it. Fly fish casting at first seems so complex; however once the mechanics are understood the concept is tangible and accomplished with grace.
At first glance, the rod appears to be moving in an arch over the water, when actually the tip of the rod stays in the same plain; it is the flex in the tip of the rod that generates the momentum to move the line forward. The cast is similar to flicking paint of a brush, a swift steady movement with a pause or stop to push the paint off. In a fly fishing cast, less is more and it is in the pause.
A fly fishing line is matched to the weight of the rod, in the West Branch Ausable River the ideal weight is a 4 or 5.
Presentation and drift
In presenting your fly to the fish, factor in minimal water disturbance, replicating the movement of an insect. In the presentation, it is essential the fly touches the water before the line. Your presentation also includes water flow and ensuring your drift is not faster than the water flow, the trout will not believe your fly if these areas do not fall into place.
Contributors to a catch in the West Branch Ausable is a 7-12 foot leader tapered clear line that will help to also give a natural drift. Trout feed 70% of the time under water, therefore nymphing is very important when fly fishing in the Adirondacks with plentiful areas of pocket water. Use your imagination and read the water, including the seams of the pocket where the fish are holding and dead drift nymph along the section.
Fishing with a fly
Fly fishing's other "lure" is the fly. The fly in itself is a work of art, meticulously created to replicate the insects the fish are feeding on at that given time in a specific water. Here in the Adirondacks, we house many masters of flies, prolific in the art of making a fly.
Common flys used
- Ausable Wulff
- The Usual
- The Bomber
- The Sirloin
You will find a large array of flies and fly shops here in the Whiteface Region, with experts on staff to point you in the right direction. While you're planning your fly fishing trip, explore our waterways and fishing holes to help decide the best place for you to begin.
The most important thing to remember about fly fishing is in the end: it's just fishing. Let go and enjoy yourself.