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A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2007/6/19 21:49
From Lancaster County
Posts: 1545
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As dc410 alluded to earlier, conditions are tough for the fisherperson right now, in a lot of areas of the state. I found myself in one of those tough conditions this past weekend, as I found myself fishing in some low, clear and cold water conditions.

Over the years, I've adapted some of the techniques I've used during earlier fishing chapters into fly-fishing techniques. This chiefly involved dunking a worm or a salmon egg into tiny plunge pools to target wild brookies. I didn't think much of it at the time; it was what we did, and I didn't have the experience or holistic view of fishing that has grown as years go by to realize that there were many other ways to catch fish, and sometimes, one method was more viable than others. But a couple years ago, I realized that those early tactics worked quite well using a bugger too, and in fact, the conditions I caught the native brookies under years ago were the same types of low and clear conditions I'd find myself encountering in the summer. I came up with a name for this approach, calling it English Muffin fishing, since I was targeting the nooks and crannies that fish hid in during these conditions.

I found this technique worked very well in the winter too, when fish are less active, and not as prone to move for anything, unless it bonks them on the nose. Dapping allows one to just about bonk them on the nose.

It particularly makes sense to use this technique on small streams, especially freestoners. Have you ever fished a stream one time and caught a mess of fish, and gone back in low water and not caught a mess of fish and not even seen any quantity of fish? Chances are, they are still there, hiding out in the nooks and crannies.

I like to use a short (6'6") rod for dapping. I like the rod I have because it is fast-action, which allows for a quick hook set. And I'm often dapping only a few feet in front of me, so the short rod comes in extremely handy; the extra few feet of a 9' rod really get in the way sometimes. My goto dapping rod is actually a Redington spinning rod with a Tennessee grip. I hated it as a spinning rod, because the rings never quite held the reel snug to the grip, leaving a weak hook set. But, with a fly reel attached, it is the perfect setup.

I usually use a size 12 or 14 wooly bugger, in either olive or black, with a beadhead. Size 12 is ideal, because you can dap with it, and in the event you come upon a larger pool, you can also cast it, and strip it like you normally would a bugger.

I often find with dapping that I get two shots at the stream, especially if I park somewhere downstream. I'm able to fish my way upstream, until I decide it is time to turn around. And then, on the return approach, I get a shot at the pools from an upstream position, which often means that fish can't see me when they are lying in the head of the pools, where the little rock ledges are and the water tumbles down.

Unlike dc410, I rarely make that 30' cast in low conditions, spooking no fish, and hooking up with the fish I am casting too. Dapping is my way to adapt, and perhaps compensate for that. But it is an effective technique for catching otherwise spooky fish in low and clear conditions.

Please make sure you take a temperature reading before fishing in low and clear conditions, as water temperatures often rise when water conditions are such. It never crossed my mind as a 5-year old to do that, and I wonder what the stream temperatures were that I fished in as a little boy. However, I know they were about 54 degrees Saturday.

Here are a few pictures of that outing over the weekend, with the dapping setup. The two largest fish were 12" and 13", and they were not caught dapping, but rather on a typical strip retrieve, in larger pools, from the largest rocks. But as the outing proved again, it pays to dunk a bugger into every little nook and cranny that might hold a fish, because chances are it DOES hold a fish. I didn't break any records with the number of fish I caught, but ten little buttery browns is satisfaction enough.



Non-Flash link:
https://picasaweb.google.com/108467945 ... 6nh44GSZQ&feat=directlink

Be alert too; you will be surprised where fish come out from and at times, you will not be expecting them. It happened to me on one tiny 1x3' hole that was at the top of a larger pool where I caught my biggest fish of the day. I caught him on the upstream approach and then dunked into the smaller hole, catching and seeing nothing, although a small trout had darted into that hole as I moved upstream to fish it. The surprise came when I was on my downstream return. I first tried the large rock, to see if I could entice the bigger brownie out again (or any of his brethren) and I missed a ten-inch fish doing that. I then targeted that tiny 1x3' hole and was shocked when a 10" brownie charged out and crushed the bugger. After releasing him, and grabbing a drink, I dunked again, and pooled out a second fish. Therein lies the bonus of fishing a stream on both the upstream and downstream approach, and of try, try again..


Posted on: 2013/10/2 22:37


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 315
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Dapping (or "dappling") is becoming one of my favorite ways to entice a bite, especially when you are in tighter quarters with limited backcast space. It also gives you the flexibility to really work a spot that a dead drift may pass too quickly. More than once, I've dapped a fly over a spot, repeatedly disturbing the water and hooked into a fish that didn't want to bite immediately or simply didn't see the fly right away. Very good technique when other stuff just isn't panning out or, as you said, you want to work over every nook in the stream flow.

Posted on: 2013/10/3 1:54


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2012/3/14 6:23
From Lancaster
Posts: 1017
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Salmonoid,

Great explanation of a very productive technique. I have used that technique on many occasions and it has worked well for me. However, I never really disected the stream bed or structure like you described in your post. The next time I find myself using the "dapping" technique I'm sure I will go about it with a different mindset. Really nice photos and again, the detail in your explanation is really great and very informative. Thanks for sharing it with us.

dc410

Posted on: 2013/10/3 7:25


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2011/5/3 12:22
From South Lebanon Township, PA
Posts: 1944
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I've fished with salmonoid and he's a real pro in these conditions with his "dapping" approach. In low/clear conditions I often skip too much water I think, just looking for the prime lies. Salmonoid will often still pull fish out of the less obvious (or less obvious to me anyway) spots.

I'll often use a similar technique, but I employ an additional split shot fairly close to the Bugger...sinks quicker and gives you a little more weight to control the "dapping" with.

Did you compare those pics to your other photos of that stream? Were any of those Browns "photographed" before?

Posted on: 2013/10/3 15:06


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2007/6/19 21:49
From Lancaster County
Posts: 1545
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Six-Gun - I agree that dapping gives you a little bit more time to have a fly in the vicinity of a fish. A lot of time fish are opportunistic and crush anything that shows up immediately, but sometimes, it takes the second or third cast, or the second or third dap through the water column until they stroll out for a look. I don't know if they are asleep, or if they make a false run the first time and commit the second or third time or what. I also agree that dapping is effective when fishing through tight cover, like rhododendron or alders or willows. That's also one of the reasons I like a short rod for this technique. A long rod gets caught on too much stuff.

I should also add that technique aside, low and clear water can be a good time to explore the stream to learn about the structure of the stream and determine where fish ultimately are hiding. Watch for puffs of mud as you approach pools, and you can tell where fish that don't show themselves get nervous under rocks as they move around. Knowing the structure of the stream can be extremely useful when you go back in higher or off color water.

Swattie - I think there are some previously caught fish in that batch. Catch and release works, even if you hold a fish for a moment to snap a picture I haven't tagged my 2013 photos by stream location yet, but once I do, it should be easier to compare.

Posted on: 2013/10/3 22:12


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2013/3/16 17:09
From Glen Rock, PA
Posts: 38
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Man, those are some nice fish. I can hardly comprehend catching trout that nice out of a stream that size. I obviously have a lot to learn. I need to think differently about where trout might be, especially in low conditions.

Posted on: 2013/10/5 11:48


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2012/6/25 8:27
From Honky Tonk Lagoon
Posts: 114
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Thanks for this great write up... I'll definitely be trying this technique out. You've helped me realize that I've been overlooking way too much stream in low conditions.
Thanks!

Posted on: 2013/10/15 16:52


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2010/9/27 18:05
Posts: 67
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At some point, maybe it's just time to fish a spinning rod...It's like trying to fish extremely heavy patterns on a fly rod. Sometimes the spin gear is just better. If we're going through all this trouble to put a fly reel on a spin rod and not cast it in the first place, why bother? I was under the impression that we're all here because we like to fly fish, not jury rig spinning rods.

Posted on: 2013/10/19 15:48


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2011/5/3 12:22
From South Lebanon Township, PA
Posts: 1944
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Quote:

808transplant wrote:
I was under the impression that we're all here because we like to fly fish, not jury rig spinning rods.


Most of us are actually here to be critical of how others fish. Very nicely done!

Posted on: 2013/10/19 19:27


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2009/7/29 10:25
Posts: 1808
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Very interesting OP, and I almost never fish anything but dry flies and brookies. I probably walk by a lot of fish.

Fished a tiny brookie stream last week, and saw several fish under rocks in the very low water. Caught some other fish with dries, just staying as far back as possible or behind stuff. But of course those were brookies, not browns, which are much more spooky and less inclined to just blast dry flies all day.

Nice pictures, they make me want to go fishing.


Posted on: 2013/10/19 21:40

Edited by k-bob on 2013/10/19 21:56:01
Edited by k-bob on 2013/10/19 22:00:21
Edited by k-bob on 2013/10/19 22:01:16


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2009/7/29 10:25
Posts: 1808
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Low clear water is what we've got. I used the idea of guessing which rock ledges the wild browns were under today in a very small NEPA stream. Casting dry and dropper, I drifted the dropper in front of a good looking ledge after a careful approach, and out came a 14" wild brown to grab the dropper... at very close range. Without the approach suggested here, I would not have seen that fish, forget catching it. thanks!

Posted on: 2013/10/20 17:17


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2007/6/19 21:49
From Lancaster County
Posts: 1545
Offline
Quote:

808transplant wrote:
At some point, maybe it's just time to fish a spinning rod...It's like trying to fish extremely heavy patterns on a fly rod. Sometimes the spin gear is just better. If we're going through all this trouble to put a fly reel on a spin rod and not cast it in the first place, why bother? I was under the impression that we're all here because we like to fly fish, not jury rig spinning rods.


I'm not sure if you are referring to the fact that I had a spinning-rod blank I was using, or just making a general statement, but I'll take a rod that can toss buggers and dap buggers on any day over a spinning rod/reel combo. In a lot of ways, dapping is nothing more than extremely close tight-line nymphing. I generally fish small waters and as stated, like the shorter rod for close quarters on those streams. Try casting a bugger twenty feet on your standard spinning setup with spinning line - it is not going to happen. But, with this setup, you can both fish closely and cast farther for the bigger pools.

If you have trouble fishing heavy patterns on a fly rod, up the weight of the rod you are using. It is a chore to toss a bass bug or bugger on a 3wt. It is a bit more of a breeze to throw the same fly with an 8wt.

By the way, I am known to mix things up a bit. I have fished a spinning reel on a fly rod when I couldn't buy a fish casting flies (and caught a fish on the first cast with the spinning reel). And as you an see on the photo in this thread, the fly reel goes nicely with the Tennessee handle and rings on an original spinning rod. There's something satisfying to using a somewhat unorthodox mix of gear. In the end, if it fools trout, I like it.

Posted on: 2013/10/22 21:57


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2009/4/1 21:52
From Johnstown, PA
Posts: 4469
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That was a good real Sal.........it brings another , kinda similar tactic to mind. With a high floating dry fly when the breeze blows , raise the rod tip and let the fly bounce around like an out of control kite on water below or above uhhhhh...........downwind.

Posted on: 2013/10/26 6:19


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2011/10/12 10:54
From Washington county
Posts: 79
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I think I did this before I even really knew what it was. Was fly fishing a creek that was pretty high and flowing fairly fast, to much brush behind me to cast so I put on a larger stonefly nymph and though it in some small little eddies behind rocks, managed to hook a few up, not land any though.

Posted on: 2013/11/10 23:07


Re: A (partial) antidote for tough conditions - dapping in nooks and crannies

Joined:
2013/8/1 11:22
From North East
Posts: 9
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Thanks Salmonoid. This is very descriptive and will definitely help out. Great pictures and details!

Posted on: 2013/11/11 14:04






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