Stillwater Tips and Tricks with Stephen Korby, FRA Shop Specialist

Stephen Korby is a self proclaimed stillwater fanatic. Growing up in northern Minnesota he was immersed in fishing culture from a very young age. His father owned a local hardware store and sold fishing tackle as well. Though spin fishing and ice fishing were what introduced him to angling he took to fly fishing over 30 years ago and hasn’t looked anywhere else. An expert fisherman particularly on still water I had a chance to pick his brain about his favorite fisheries. 

Why does still water appeal to you in such a strong way? There are so many variables from water temp, wind direction, and cloud conditions, to barometric pressure, and insect activity.  It is so very rewarding when you can get “dialed in”.  It can be tough, but worth it. Also, the big fish.  If you are weary of the crowds and combat fishing, head to a lake. There is always room for everyone.” 

What are some of your favorite techniques? “While stripping streamers can be very effective, I fish under an indicator the huge majority of time. With bobber fishing it’s all about patience.  Intermediate sinking lines will also catch a lot of fish under the proper conditions. Look for water transitioning into that 4-10 foot range.  Do not be afraid of the wind, it can be your friend.  A heavy chop will kick up food and make the fish less skittish.”

What are some of your gear essentials? What weight rods etc.? “I fish a 5 wt when conditions allow, but considering the wind, fly size, and large fish, carrying a 6 or 7 wt is a good idea.  I typically carry two rods with me: for example, a 5 wt with a chironomid set up, and a 6 wt with a tasty balanced leech.  I fish a floating line almost exclusively, rigged with a strike indicator (bobber).  An oversized net can be helpful, remember those fish can get a lot bigger.  I strictly wade fish, but a float tube can be valuable as the spring season progresses.”

The big question…what is the best time of year? When is ice off!? “Typically ice off until mid May is most productive.  Depending on the location most trophy lakes are free of ice in late March to mid April.  The Fall season can be the most productive.  Early October until the lakes again freeze can produce your fattest fish of the entire year.”

No need for anything too explicit but what are some of your go to flies? “While scuds and worms (yes, squirmies under a bobber can be deadly) are effective, my go to categories are small leeches and chironomids.  Leeches can catch big trout 365, but they are most effective at ice out and again late fall.  Chironomids in 12-16 rule as the spring season progresses, and bug activity picks up.”

Without burning any spots do you have any good stillwaters or locations to look at? Trophy desert/plains destinations:  Laramie Plains Lakes in Wyoming (Hattie, Twin Buttes etc.),  South Park (Spinney Mountain, Antero);  North Park (Delaney Buttes). Practice on the local “stocker ponds”:  McCall, Thomas, St Vrain State Park any place near to you the more you fish stillwaters the more you can learn. 

Any final tips and tricks or things to make a particular note of? I catch most of my fishing depths of 4-10 feet, typically 1- 2 feet from the bottom.

  • The single most important factor:  presentation at the proper depth.  Adjust your indicator or “countdown” routinely.
  • Get comfortable with using an indicator.  Yes, it is “bobber fishing” but get over it.  With an indicator you can control the depth and keep your fly in the “strike zone” for extended periods of time.  Your catch rate will improve, but it is also good fun to watch your bobber go under.
  • Let the wind and chop do the work.  Strip, but ever slowly…….simply to stay in contact with the fly.
  • Be patient and persevere through the tough stretches.
  • I can’t wait to get out on the water and try these tips out myself. Come by the shop and talk to Korby about any and all of your stillwater queries. We at Front Range Anglers can get you set up with anything you need to have an amazing day of the water, still or moving.

FRA Guide: Tyler Jaskey