Wye Tenkara

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Fishing Small Streams

When approaching a small trout stream for the first time it is important to remember the following things. Firstly you are much closer to the fish than in any other fishing situation. You don’t have the luxury of distance from the fish so stealth and river craft are vitally important. Secondly the fish are usually wild so have never seen the inside of a hatchery or having been fed by man.  This means that to survive the fish always have to be aware of danger. Thirdly the fish’s two priorities are, are they safe from predators and is there a steady supply of food. Finally it is important to be mobile and not spend too much time in one place. You need to find the fish and not expect the fish to come to you. If you don’t catch a fish after one or two casts then move on. Once you have taken a fish or two from one spot move on to the next fishable place. It is generally best to fish upstream.



Most of the small streams in the Wye catchment area are tree lined and fairly fast flowing. The streams are made up of well defined pools and stretches of faster and streamy water. Some of the streams are of a lowland character such as the Lugg, Arrow or Dore. One characteristic of these streams is that they tend to become coloured after rain. Many of the streams have a rocky bottom but some of them have a silt bottom. This is particularly true of the Lugg, Arrow and Dore.  


Insect life

These streams are inhabited by a range of insect life including up-winged may flies including the May Fly which hatches between the end of May and the beginning of June; stone flies and also cadis flies. In addition to these groups of flies there are also midges and terrestrial flies are also important in the diet of the trout.



The watch word for fishing small streams is to fish light. All that is required is a suitable length and weight rod, tippet material and a few suitable wet and dry flies such as pheasant tail nymphs and CDC emergers. You should also carry a net as some of the fish may be surprisingly large.


Fishing hints

When approaching a small stream it is best to start at the bottom of the beat and work your way upstream keeping as close to the bank as possible. You will usually need to wade. Short casts should be made into all suitable parts of the stream. Don’t waste too much time on the slack water. Fish tend to be found in the more streamy water. This is because this is where the food is, streamy water gives the fish some protection from predators and also the water is well oxygenated. The junction between different current speeds is often a productive spot and so is under bankside vegetation, especially if the water is deep.  Fish will also hang about in the tail of the pool where the water increases in speed. When fishing for these fish great care must be taken as it is possible to easily spook them and then it is likely that all the fish in the pool will be spooked. It is best to systematically fish upstream and not just to fish to rising fish. A fish will often take a dry fly even if there is no evidence of a rising fish.