Water transparency in fly fishing

An important skill in fly fishing is learning to judge the waters before you even start assembling your rod and line. Lakes and rivers can be divided into categories. First, they are defined by the clarity of the water. How clear the water is determines the depth at which fish lie and the distance from which they could see your lure. The depth light can enter the water is a factor that effects the behaviour of fish. The water’s transparency is also affected by the degree to which wind disturbs the surface.

In general you can test water transparency by lowering a white disc into it and marking the depth at which it starts to disappear from view. It is at these depths that larger fish often lie, at least during daylight hours. For example, in a lake that’s coloured or cloudy a fish may only see a lure within one or two feet and may prefer to lie at around six feet. In the clearest lakes, such as good quality limestone ones, a fish may prefer to lie at a depth of at least 30 feet and may see a lure from considerable distances.

More on judging waters for fly fishing in future blogs.

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