As someone who enjoys fishing small streams, approach is something that must be constantly considered. I grew up fishing small meadow and woodland streams with my grandfather. The two things he insisted on when fishing these streams were drab clothing and a stealthy approach. Drab colored clothing and hats blend well with the surroundings, particularly muted tones of green, brown, grey, and light blue. On streams where the trout’s only protective advantage is flight, remaining unseen is a necessity. This is even more challenging in situations where an upstream cast is nearly impossible and the angler needs to use the current to present the fly into protected feeding lanes. It still surprises me how often I see a picture of an angler wearing a bright red or yellow shirt or hat in an article on fishing small streams. Brighter clothing may not be so much of an issue on larger rivers where there is greater distance between the angler and the fish or in high gradient streams where it there is a natural “ladder” in the gradient and fishing upstream with a low profile is easily accomplished. But more often than not that a bright shirt or hat is easily perceived by the fish and they are on the alert to your presence.
|Muted tones of green and gray for early spring and late fall - photo courtesy of Alan of Small Stream Reflections|
Another consideration is your approach to the stream. You can’t expect to remain unseen if don’t carefully consider your approach and how you will present the fly. We often would crawl into position to keep a low profile using trees or brush to hide our approach. You just can't careless walk up to the edge of a small stream and expected to go unnoticed. If you are careful and stealthy in your approach you can reduce the distance between you and your fly and more effectively place it where it needs to be. Once these skills are part of your thinking your approach on larger rivers will improve and you can cut down the distance between you and your target.
So the next time you are thinking about fishing a small stream consider how well your clothing blends into your surroundings and keep a low profile. Fish are very adept at picking up movement and color in their surroundings.