Pro Tips: Bill Tapply’s Pocket-Water Secrets, Part II—Gear and Flies

Written by: William G. Tapply

It pays to scot a pocket-water section before you fish it, to plan your approach.
Photo by Sandy Hays

Click here for Part I.

Pocket-water rivers come in all sizes and shapes. Many classic trout streams alternate long, slow pools and rushing pocket water. Hallowed eastern rivers such as the Battenkill, the Beaverkill, and the Willowemoc—rivers whose every pool has a name and a parking area and a well-beaten path leading to the water’s edge—feature delicious stretches of pocket water loaded with trout that rarely see a fly. Big rumbling western rivers, such as the Madison, offer pocket-water fishing on a larger scale. Little streams that tumble off the spines of the Appalachians and the Rockies are characterized by pocket water, too. You can even find lightly-fished sections of pocket water in many crowded tailwaters and spring creeks. Here’s the gear you’ll need to make the most of these rocky sections:

Rod: A pocket-water rod should be versatile enough to cast dry flies, weighted nymphs, and streamers, and it should be long enough to keep most of your line off the water. A 5- or 6-weight, medium-action, 9- or 9 1/2-foot rod will handle all pocket-water situations. On tight mountain streams, you may need a shorter rod to keep your flies out of the overhanging bushes.

Line: Use a weight-forward floater for short, accurate casts and easy mending.

Leader: A pocket-water leader should be no longer than 9 feet from the butt to the end of the tippet.

Tippet: You don’t need fine tippets for pocket-water fishing. Two feet of 4X is about right for dry flies. Cut back to 3X for nymphs and 2X for streamers.

Wading Gear: Wading boots must be felt-soled (where legal) or studded, for sure-footed wading in pocket water. Stream cleats are even better, and a wading staff will come in handy.

Clothing: Wear drab colors, which will allow you to sneak up close to pocket-water trout.

Glasses: Polarized glasses in tints of yellow, amber or brown will cut the glare and enable you to see through the water to where you want to step. With the right glasses and good light, you can sometimes spot pocket-water trout.

A Pocket-Water Fly Box
You don’t need a lot of different patterns for pocket-water fishing.  I carry just a single fly box.  It’s stocked with the following flies although I don’t carry all of them at any one time:

Check out these great e-books by William G. Tapply (available on all formats including iPad, Kindle, Mobi, etc.):

And visit Vicki Stiefel’s new website and facebook page to learn about her new book, Chest of Bone.

One thought on “Pro Tips: Bill Tapply’s Pocket-Water Secrets, Part II—Gear and Flies”

  1. This was a great blog. Thanks for posting! I noticed on the video you had a strike indicator on your leader. Can you offer any info on the technique/rig you were using or suggest using? (Dry Dropper, double nymph rig) Also do you mostly fish up stream or across the stream? You only discussed fish behind boulders. What other locations on pocket water should we look out for? Thank you again!

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