High water seems to be the theme so far this year making wade fishing much more difficult and the usual tactics have not been as effective. This does not mean that wade fishing the Yakima or its tributaries in high flows is not worth the time, there are a few changes you can make to your fishing to have success in the high water.
1.) The Knee Rule
As a general safety method, some anglers follow the rule of never wading above your knees to avoid getting swept away. In this case, wading out too far can spook fish that are sitting close to the bank. As these flows jump, fish will be looking for soft water to stay out of the current and inside corners tend to be the water that we target the most. Especially when there is a little color in the river, we tend to find fish in surprisingly shallow water so wading too deep could spook fish.
2.) Fish Methodically
High water limits the amount of water that you have access to from the shore. When you first get down to the water, take time to look it over and plan out how you’re going to break down the run to ensure you take example of a good wade spot, as well as make sure you get your flies in front of a fish that can see your bugs when the water is colored.
- Work the run from top to bottom
- Start close, don’t step in the water, and then work your way out.
- Fish different tactics – dry dropper, euro nymph, indicator, streamer, etc.
3.) Try new Tactics
With inside corners and tight spaces being the theme for high water, trying new tactics such as euro nymphing can be a game-changer. Without the need for a back-cast and the ability to change up your depth easily, euro nymphing is one of the most effective ways to pick apart every inch of a run with a good presentation. Especially in smaller tributaries such as the Teanaway or Upper Cle Elum where spots are tight but you have plenty of big boulders, seams, and structures to pick apart, euro nymphing is one of the most effective ways to find fish in high water as a wade angler.
Not only euro nymphing, but committing to the streamer is also a great way to cover water and find fish in big flows. We like to swing flies since it covers the most water methodically, but nymphing a streamer with some tungsten putty is a not-so-fun to cast but an effective high-water tactic. Throwing solid colors such as black or white, or flies with lots of flash like sparkles minnows is our go-to.