5 Tips for Small Stream Fly Fishing Success
Fishing Skills, Fly Fishing

5 Tips for Small Stream Fly Fishing Success

Fly fishing a small stream or brook can be a daunting prospect if you have never fished one before. It can be a difficult challenge at times, but by keeping things simple, you can catch lots of fish and really enjoy yourself!

Take a read of these top tips for getting the most out of fly fishing our small rivers, the Sirhowy and Afon Llynfi (Powys).

Gwent Angling Society - River Sirhowy
River Sirhowy

1. Scale down – There is no point heading down to a small stream 15 feet wide armed with a 10 foot 7 weight reservoir rod. I have actually seen this done many a time! Let’s face it; you need to scale down to suit your water. A perfect all-around length for our Sirhowy and Llynfi beats would be an 8 Foot #3/4 rated rod. Short enough to get under dense overhead tree cover but with enough power to stop a bigger trout and push a fly into a headwind.

An 8ft rod should do the job on the Gwent Angling Society streams.

2. Watch your backcast – With small stream fishing, the back cast is just as important as the front. Get into position and plan the path of your forward and back casts. Consider your position in the river and anything that might get in the way, e.g. overhanging foliage, brambles, high bank etc. We all know what it’s like when your fly goes into a tree branch just out of reach!

3. Move with stealth – Small stream trout get to a catchable size by being cautious. These fish are ultra-sensitive. A clumsy footfall or bow wave from entering the water hastily will ensure all the fish in the pool are put down. Enter the water as quietly and softly as the terrain allows. Also, don’t walk up to a pool along a high bank – plan your entry spot with the knowledge that trout face upstream.

4. Make your first cast count – Okay, the pressure is on, but it will be worth it! If you get your first cast right, if there is a fish in the spot, the chances are it will nail the fly on the very first drift. So be ready for action. By the same measure, don’t spend too much time in one pool. If nothing happens within 3 or 4 well-presented casts, then it may be time to move on.

5. Keep fly choice simple – There is no need to make things complicated. Small stream trout are not picky when it comes to fishing flies. Changing the fly countless time will not get you more fish; it’s all about presentation. So take general searching patterns. Dry flies such as Parachute Adams, Klinkhamers, Foam Beetles and Black Gnat will do the job. For nymphs, simple flies such as copper johns, GRHE and bead-head pheasant tails will come in handy. My usual starting approach is ‘the duo’ – a big dry fly acting as an indicator with a small nymph suspended about 2 foot or so (depth dependant) underneath. Attach the nymph and trailing tippet directly to the bend of the dry fly hook. If fish keep slashing at the dry and miss it, simply take the nymph off.

small stream trout
A Sirhowy trout

Words and Images: Ceri Thomas Fishing In Wales.


The Gwent Angling Society is a progressive, conservation-minded club offering fishing on six beats on the River Usk, two on the River Wye, the Sirhowy river and Afon Llynfi (Powys), and the wonderful Talybont Reservoir. Our waters can be viewed here.

If you are interested in joining us or have any queries, simply contact our Membership Secretary.