ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Fly Fishing Lakes from Shore

Updated on February 28, 2016

Fly fishing stillwater from the shoreline may seem overwhelming, particularly on bigger reservoirs and lakes. River and streams provide visual cues, seams and patterns we can try to decipher. Unless trout are breaking the surface or otherwise revealing themselves, fly fishing a lake from shore may feel like firing a shotgun blindly into the sky and hoping a duck or goose happens to fly into the path of the shot pellets. But there are a few tactics that can increase our chances of success.

Scout the Water First

If you can find a high vantage point along the shoreline, take advantage of the terrain to scout the water near the shore for obvious drop-offs, rocky areas, submerged logs, or other sheltered areas where fish may be hiding. It is much easier to see into the water from a high angle than from water level. If the water isn’t calm or clear enough to see into, look for inlets, points of land, or small bays. These areas are more likely to have sudden changes in underwater terrain where fish prefer to travel. Look for weed beds or grassy areas as these areas are habitat for insects and bait fish. Take the time to look for these spots and then spend more time focusing on these areas to detect signs of fish. You may see single fish or pods of fish cruising the shoreline and feeding, but many times the fish will be holding quietly near structure and resting and will be difficult to spot. If the water is slightly choppy, rising trout may be breaking the surface without detection. It may seem that the rising fish suddenly appear once the wind dies down, but they were likely there all along. The time we spend upfront observing the environment we are planning to fish will pay dividends later.

Choose your rigging

The first choice we need to make when fly fishing lakes from shore is the type of fly line to use – floating or sinking. The depth of the water and the type of action (suspended versus swimming) will dictate the selection of fly line. For most shoreline lake fishing a floating line can be used for both suspended and swimming presentations (and of course for dry fly fishing), provided the water is fairly shallow. The length of the leader and the weight of the fly will determine the depth of the presentation. An intermediate sinking line may be preferred in deeper water to present swimming action to imitate damsel fly nymphs, crayfish, or leeches. A fast sinking line may be necessary when fishing off deep drop-offs and ledges.

Fly selection may vary greatly from lake to lake, so ask a local or stop by the nearest fly shop for advice, when possible. Using a two-fly rig with a #12 to #16 weighted fly on the bottom will help sink suspended rigs below an indicator without using split shot. Tungsten beadheads like Garcia’s Tungsten Rojo Midge, McLellan’s Hunchback Scud, or a Hot Wire Prince Nymph are good options for weighted flies. Hare’s Ears, Copper Johns, Chironomids, Sand Juan Worms, and scud patterns tend to work well in most lakes for trout. For suspended rigs, select a highly visible and buoyant indicator such as a Thingamabobber plastic ball. Weighted black, olive and orange Wholly Buggers are good imitations of leeches and bait fish. Many dry fly patterns can be effective on lakes including the Griffith’s Gnat which imitates clusters of adult midges on the surface.

thingamabobber | Source

Fish the Water Conditions

Water conditions in lakes can range from clear to cloudy, calm to wavy, warm to cold, and various combinations of these. Some of these conditions affect the fish behavior and others affect our fishing success. Calm and clear conditions may seem ideal for fishing lakes, but these are often the toughest conditions since the fish tend to be more “spooky”, requiring more stealth and delicate presentations. Light chop on the water can provide cover for the fish and make fisherman, fly lines and water surface disturbance less visible. The bobbing of strike indicators on chop provides some action to the suspended fly which seems to solicit more strikes. Cloudy conditions can have some of the same effects with the added benefit of less sun glare off the water.

Fly fishing stillwaters from shore can be very rewarding and may produce some of the biggest catches of the year. Use a thoughtful and patient approach and your success rate will increase.

Check my fly fishing blog at Fly Fishing Globe


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)