How to Fly Fish for Trout in Clear Water Rivers

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Join Lake Taneycomo fishing guide John Sappington as he covers the basics of fly fishing for trout. He shares valuable insights and tips to help novice and experienced anglers catch trout using fly fishing gear in clear tailwater fisheries. Sappington, a pro bass angler and fly fishing guide, offers a basic yet thorough walkthrough of trout fishing techniques, gear, and strategies that’ll lead you to a successful day on the water.

TACKLE USED (retail links)


Sappington explains how trout, like bass, are attracted to structures that concentrate currents and food. Learn why trout, primarily sight feeders, thrive in crystal clear waters and how their visibility impacts your fishing approach. Sappington also discusses the importance of water conditions, highlighting how ripples on the surface can improve catch rates when targeting spooky trout.


Sappington covers the fundamental difference between fly fishing and other forms of fishing, where the weight of the line, rather than the lure or sinker, is crucial for casting. He covers the essentials of fly fishing gear, from choosing the right rod and reel to selecting the correct fly line and leader for tailwater fisheries. He emphasizes the importance of matching the fly line weight to your rod.


Sappington walks us through his approach to fishing in different water depths and conditions. Learn the importance of adjusting your technique based on the trout’s mood, from aggressive twitching to gentle shaking and using a strike indicator to detect subtle bites and keep your fly off of the bottom. Sappington also shares insights into lure color selection, explaining how your best bet is natural brown and green hues.


As a successful tournament bass angler, Sappington encourages anglers to appreciate the entire fly fishing experience beyond catching lots of fish or caring too much about size. He advocates for enjoying each fish, bringing them in gently, and learning from every encounter. His philosophy is about embracing the tranquility and mindfulness that fly fishing offers, making it a unique and enriching outdoor activity.