Stillwater Trout Fly Fishing – Step-by-Step Guide & Essential Tips

Fishing for Stillwater trout can be an exciting and challenging experience. However, your ability to land one will often depend on the technique you are using.

Making a few small adjustments can often give you a much higher chance of landing one of these fish.

To help you with this, let’s take a closer look at some of the steps to take when fly fishing for Stillwater trout.

Table of Contents

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brown trout in fly fishing net

Step One: Pick The Best Depth

The first thing that you’ll need to do is select the right depth to place your line. This will often depend on a few factors.

First, you’ll need to consider the temperature. Many trout will prefer to stick to the cooler waters. They have more oxygen, which can make it easier for the trout to move around.

The ideal temperature will be around 10 to 14 degrees Celsius (50 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit). However, this depth can often change with the weather. For example, on a warm day, the trout might be more likely to come to the surface to feed on the abundance of food.

Because of this, you might want to try multiple depths. This will let you see which one is going to give you the best results in that location.

To test which depth is the best, vary the time it takes you to pull your flies. For example, you might want to start out waiting five seconds before you pull the line.

If that doesn’t produce any results, wait ten seconds before pulling the line. Keep doing this, until you start to pique the interest of the trout.

Step Two: Find The Right Fly

It’s also important to make sure that you’re using the right fly. If you don’t do this, there isn’t much chance that you’ll attract any attention from the fish.

There are a few ways that you can make sure that you’re using the right fly. First, you should look at the type of insect life available.

Many trout feed on insects. So, if the insects are small hatchlings, you’ll often be able to get better results from a small fly.

It can often help to have a wide selection of flies to choose from. So, if one isn’t working, don’t be afraid to switch it out for a more effective one.

You can find some great summer trout flies here and winter trout flies here.

fly fishing rod and trout in fishing landing net

Step Three: Find The Right Location

Where the trout are, depends on the type of conditions. When the weather gets too hot or cold, the trout tends to stick closer to underwater obstacles, such as logs or rocks.

However, when they are actively feeding, they might move into the middle of the lake or river. As a result, it often takes some trial and error to find a good fishing spot.

So, if you aren’t seeing any results, move around in the lake and try again. If there are trout there, you should start to see signs of them within about 10 to 15 minutes of fly fishing. If you don’t get anything, move on.

When walking along the banks, of the lake make sure to move as slowly as possible. This will ensure that you don’t accidentally frighten away the fish as you’re walking through the water.

When deciding where you want to cast, take a few moments to look at the water. Stillwater might appear calm, but there are often currents and vibrant life beneath the surface.

As a result, you might see ripples on the surface. If you spot this, these areas contain a lot of activity. You will often be able to get great results if you’re able to cast into these areas.

catch of a rainbow trout with a fly

Step Four: Vary Your Retrieval Speed

When fishing for Stillwater trout, it’s important to remember what triggers them to bite. Often, the type of bait will influence their decision.

For example, they might be more attracted to different shapes and sizes. However, most often it’s linked to the way the bait travels through the water.

Baits that travel at different speeds will have a different impact on the temperature in the water. Trout can be very sensitive to these changes.

As a result, by changing your retrieve speed, you will be able to help trigger the fish, making them more likely to bite. There are many types of speeds that you might want to try.

For example, you might want to try a slow speed, or a breakneck one. It can also help to leave a small pause in the middle, giving the trout a little more time to bite.

Step Five: Use Fan Casting

When fishing for trout, it can often be a good idea to use the fan casting method. In this case, you’ll want to cast at a different angle each time.

Imagine drawing a grid on the water. Each time you cast; you want your lure to land in a different square. This ensures that the lure will in a new patch of water each time you cast.

This will help you make sure that you’ve covered an entire area before you decide to move on.

Step Six: Land The Fish

If you’ve followed the previous five steps, you will likely get some action from a Stillwater trout. To make sure that you catch it, you’ll need to reel it in properly.

First, you’ll want to set the hook by pulling up on the line. This ensures that it’s secure in the fish’s mouth, so you won’t lose it. Then, you’ll want to keep the trout tight on the line.

This ensures that you won’t get tangled up in the line. Then, wait for the fish to tire itself out. When you think it’s tired, reel it towards you and get your net in place.

Some fish might start to act erratically when they see the net. If this is the case, let them away, then reset the net and try again.

Finally, you’ll either need to release it or keep it for dinner. If you want to release it, make sure that you aren’t removing it from the water for too long.

Remove the hook, and return it to the water, and let it swim away.


Stillwater trout fishing can be very exciting. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of some of the things you can do to increase your chances of getting some action.

So, use this approach the next time you go fishing to raise your odds of getting a bite.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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