W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

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W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby Randyflycaster » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:43 am

Stewart writes about the advantage of fishing wet flies upstream, but I'm not sure what exactly he means. Is he writing about casting directly upstream, or up and across, or lobbing flies upstream as if he is high-stick nymphing?

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Re: W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby Old Hat » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:12 am

There are a few ways to accomplish this. The situation will dictate. Generally speaking your talking long rod and rather short line. The cast is upstream or upstream and at angles to where you are casting. The fly is not meant to get enormously long drifts. You methodically and strategically place the fly in likely spots, let it drift a bit. Pull it out an place it again. This is all done while trying to keep the line on the water to a minimum. I also like to work the fly in the water and get it to swim a bit and make those hackles work. Remember when reading any tactics you have to consider the fly and the water the writer is fishing. Not all the methods are applicable. This however is very applicable to many locations. I have used this technique on very large water by breaking the water into "micro zones" and working thoroughly. Especially works well along banks of larger rivers.
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Re: W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby zen leecher » Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:24 pm

OH, I wish someone would have told me about short casts upstream in the mid-70's. The first time I tried wets upstream I was doing normal cast distances and discovering one had a hit was kinda by intuition. I didn't know or feel I had a strike, just that something was not right.
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Re: W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby Greenwell » Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:01 pm

zen leecher wrote:OH, I wish someone would have told me about short casts upstream in the mid-70's. The first time I tried wets upstream I was doing normal cast distances and discovering one had a hit was kinda by intuition. I didn't know or feel I had a strike, just that something was not right.


Zen, I've shared your frustration, as have any of us who have tried to fish wets upstream. Trying to cast wets a normal distance upstream, say 25 - 40 feet, as with dry fly tactics, is a recipe for failure. It's almost impossible to control drift or detect strikes. And after the resultant lack of success we instinctively turn downstream....... (However, on very flat water with a slow current speed, say in the tail of a big pool, I often fish a wet upstream with a longer line. It's a tactic I use a lot on the Beaverkill, especially in the fall. But the conditions need to be right. )

Stewart was fishing a long rod and a short line. The concept of shooting line to lengthen a cast was in the future with the introduction of the tapered silk line and standing (snake) line guides. His tactics would have been more Tenkara-like. What made his style different from most contemporary anglers was that he was approaching the fish from downstream and therefore could get closer to them. While it's highly unlikely he was the first to use this tactic, he popularized it through his book. I've been an upstream angler, wet or dry, for most of my fishing career and it's amazing how close one can get to trout with careful wading. Short, accurate casts, short drifts, minimum drag. Works for me!
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Re: W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby FliTrap » Tue Dec 31, 2013 9:17 pm

Great Thread of knowledge here!

There are a few things that I've added to my up "tricks" in handling an up-stream cast. I tend to use a long leader an like already noted cast in "short casts". The one thing that I add though, are a few short (about 3/8--1/2"-long) pieces of old fly line spaced along the length of my leader. (Cut an old fly line to length... thread onto a long thin needle, thread the leader into the needle eye and slip the piece of fly ling onto the leader. Repeat with three to four sections depending on leader length). Spread the sections apart... they lend little affect to the drift if spaced some 3 feet or more apart. The last is a micro spot of a strike indicator / depth control. My efforts are to float the last as "drag free" as possible, thus allowing the fly to hang at the desired depth. The sections tend to stay put unless you go casting like a madman! then they slip! You can thread these on as you build a knotted leader, the knot keeps them fixed to a point.

Write it off to a "fix" for poor eye sight.... confused self-taught fly flipper... lol but it helps. with any re-alinement, out of alinement, wiggle, jiggle or dip of any of the "line dots", I lift to take up slack and set the hook. If no fish... set it adrift again.

After a while, you start seeing the smaller twitches in your leader... teaches the eyes to draw focus. You can remove them "training wheels", grease the leader, accept the tip and fish on!
I know this will disagree with the moral compass of some.... but it helps me sharpen up my sight in the early season!

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Re: W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby hankaye » Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:37 am

FliTrap, Howdy;

Admit it, ... you new this question would pop-up... ;)
Do you have or would you please post a photo of what you are describeing
about your leader 'sighters' ??? Please :?:

Thanks and Have a Happy New Year.

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Re: W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby William Anderson » Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:52 pm

Greenwell wrote:Stewart was fishing a long rod and a short line. The concept of shooting line to lengthen a cast was in the future with the introduction of the tapered silk line and standing (snake) line guides. His tactics would have been more Tenkara-like. What made his style different from most contemporary anglers was that he was approaching the fish from downstream and therefore could get closer to them. While it's highly unlikely he was the first to use this tactic, he popularized it through his book. I've been an upstream angler, wet or dry, for most of my fishing career and it's amazing how close one can get to trout with careful wading. Short, accurate casts, short drifts, minimum drag. Works for me!


I wanted to bring this thread back into play, partly because it's something I find fascinating (the origins of methods based on specific stream conditions) and because I would be interested to hear more about fishing traditional NCS or Stewart's style in unconventional ways. It might be that I have spent most of my time fishing smaller water, but it hasn't occurred to me that there are such significant restrictions on the presentation of these flies. I find them easy enough to fish upstream to a rising fish when the take is usually visible. I've had the most success fishing dubbed bodied soft-hackles and these tend to hang so close to the surface it seems very similar to dry fly fishing. It's the technical aspects of fishing subsurface flies upstream that has been on my mind for the past few months.

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Re: W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby taylor16 » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:02 am

So- With regards to fishing upstream w/ wet flies, are you all suggesting 10-15 foot casts (assuming 9 ft leader, 2-3 ft tippet)? Typically with fishing upstream with weighted nymphs, I'm casting 30-40 feet at most here in the Driftless region.
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Re: W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby William Anderson » Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:21 am

Hey Taylor, I have spent most of this season very frustrated with low water and crystal clear skies, putting longer distances between myself and the target, and almost always looking downstream. I would like to be on some smaller water and better days where looking upstream with spiders will be effective. It's just been very difficult conditions all over the east coast. I'm been giving serious thought to putting your region higher on my to do list. It's a fantastic prospect.
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Re: W.C. Stewart's Definition of Upstream Fishing?

Postby hankaye » Wed Jun 17, 2015 7:16 pm

taylor16, Howdy;

Yea, I'm thinkin' that's about what they are sayin'. That way, you can stay in contact with
the cast and it will help with feeling the inquisitive nudge. Keep the rod tip up to help
keep the drag to a minimum (So, yea, basicly high stick nymphin' ;) ).

I think :? I got that right. Someone will jump in to make
a correction if it needs it. :D

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