After a bit of work, the latter half of today was spent on the water with a good friend. Today we opted to hit some smaller water than our usual haunts just to mix it up a bit. After distancing ourselves from one of the resident venomous snakes (they give me the chills) we rigged our rods and conversed about what to tie on. My friend was rigging a 10 foot 4 weight, I assembled a 10 foot 2 weight prototype that I’ve been putting some miles on. I opted to use the same long leader (18 feet) I’d fished a few days earlier on a bigger river and attached a single nymph to it. My fishing partner started with a hopper and a tungsten dropper, also on a long leader. Both rigs worked quite well and each of us cycled through nymph, dry/dropper and single dry tactics before the days end.
This waterway currently has around 70 CFS in it with an average width of 20 feet. On this piece of water, most anglers I see use a 7 to 8 foot 3 or 4 weight rod with a 6 to 7.5 foot leader. Before I discovered how efficient long rods were, I too used a shorter rod and leader system. Since learning how to utilize a 10 foot rod to my advantage I rarely fish leaders shorter than 9 feet. With less fly line and leader butt on the water I can reduce the surface area of my rig’s footprint on the water and drastically improve presentation by eliminating drag.
Fishing today was quite good. As we put away our gear I asked my friend if he had fished any of his 7 to 8 foot rods lately. He replied with a laughing “no” and explained that the last time he fished a short rod he was frustrated with the lack of control, and increased drag created by the fly line and leader butt on the water. When he explained why he didn’t like the short system I realized I’d really had an effect on his rigging which had also effected his catch rate. Although many rigs and techniques take fish, often the little things we do (or don’t do) are the difference between a 5 fish day and a 35 fish day.
In small water conventional wisdom tells us to use short tackle. The next time you hit your favorite piece of small water heaven, opt for a rod and leader system a bit longer than you’d usually fish. As you acclimate to the casting and maneuvering of the long system I think you’ll find it very advantageous. If not, at least you were fishing ;)