Selecting the Right Gear for Small Creek Fishing

Having the most appropriate gear for the water you're fishing can optimize your time on the water and lower frustration levels. Less line in the trees = more line on the water = more chances at catching fish. In the Ozarks by summer most stream side vegetation is out of control and most overhanging trees are full of leaves hanging down twice as low as they did in the spring, only providing you with small casting windows. With most of us having busy lives, here are some recommendations for making the most out of your time on the water.

Rod: 2-4wt and < 8ft, action depends on your style of fishing. My personal preference is a 7'7 Scott G2 in both 3 & 4 weight. Most of the fish you catch are < 10 inches, so sticking with the lighter tackle still makes it entertaining, but I like having enough backbone to turn a larger fish. I'm not saying you can't get in done with a longer rod but there are a lot of places you won't be able to get a fly even from a knee and we're looking at optimizing your time.

Reel: To match your rod. The Hatch 3 plus balances well with my G2.  

Fly line: Floating line, I like and fish Rio LT Trout in the camo/sage color in both WF and DT. These trout are typically skittish the drab/camo colors give me a piece of mind. Although I feel the shadows created by the line and slapping the water with your line scare more fish then a neon green line.

Leader and tippet: The leader 4-6x depending on conditions, the lower and clearer the water of coarse the smaller you want. Tippet 5-7x, I haven't ever had to drop below 7x to catch fish. Typically mono for dies and fluoro from below the surface. Fluorocarbon is actually denser then water making it sink and is counterproductive to fishing dries. It almost disappears under the surface making it ideal for nymphs and streamers. The length of your setup should be as longs you think you can get away with, I stick around 12 ft, 8ft trout hunter leader with around 4ft of trout hunter tippet, you have to consider most you're cast are <25ft.

Flies: I'll discuss fly selection in detail later but highly recommend barbless hook on these small streams. I don't always fish them on other waters but religiously fish them on these small wild streams. When most the fish are <10 inches and a lot <8 inches a barb on a size 18 can do a lot of damage to their jaw and surrounding tissue.    

Check out the gear from one of the local fly shops from the supporting the locals page.

Tight Lines

Luke d