Written by: colin coogan, Coogan fly fishing

Hat Creek (like many headstreams) has slow-moving, ultra-clear water that gives the trout ample time to inspect their prey.
All photos by Coogan Fly Fishing

Spring streams can be intimidating, but there are many benefits to fishing in these notoriously challenging waters. Not only are they particularly beautiful, their calm, clear waters offer fantastic sight fishing opportunities, even when the nearby sandstone streams are clouded by runoff. Up here in Northern California, I spend a lot of time fishing on Hat Creek and Fall River, two beautiful headwaters that share similar characteristics with the famous Henrys Fork in Idaho and the headwaters of Paradise Valley in southwest Montana, among others. Whichever Western Spring Creek you choose, here are my three tips to prepare you for this season.

1686067622 918 Pro Tips 3 Tactics for Fishing Spring Creek | AdayAwayFishingAdventures.com
A soft-action rod bends further into the blank, protecting the lightweight tip from impact.

1. Use soft action rods

Having the right gear for your Spring Creek excursion is key: I like using one Soft action rod, as I usually fish lighter hooklengths for fussy fish in calmer water and the greater flexibility helps keep my line from snapping during the fight. I also prefer reels with click and pawl brakes for the same reason, especially on my dry fly rods.

2. Bring different fly sizes and stages

A diverse selection of flies can make or spoil your day on a spring stream. I’m not saying you have to buy every fly from the store before you hit the water, but having a range of sizes (at least one larger and one smaller than what the review recommends) will really help tailor the fly to the hatch. Also, make sure you have flies that represent each stage of the insect’s life cycle – nymph, pupa, hatchling, and adult – as Spring Creek trout often commit to a specific stage when feeding.

1686067622 142 Pro Tips 3 Tactics for Fishing Spring Creek | AdayAwayFishingAdventures.com
Fall River’s glass-flat surfaces reveal every little detail of your fly and presentation.

3. Keep your throws short and controlled

Spring streams can be fished in many different ways, but I always encourage anglers to focus on fishing shorter, more controlled drifts instead of trying to let the entire river drift and potentially catching fish. If you fish in a shorter window, the fish eat longer and you can work the pod more thoroughly. Use sight by observing their feeding habits, then position yourself at the right angle to perform a resistance-free throw.

Colin Coogan is the owner/operator of Coogan fly fishing in Redding, California.