TailWater Techniques


Today I have a special write up, form my buddy David Jolie. This post is about fishing TailWaters. What is a TailWater? Wikipedia states..

“Tailwater refers to waters located immediately downstream from a hydraulic structure, such as a dam (excluding minimum release such as for fish water), bridge or culvert”

“Tailwater can refer to a type of fishery. Tailwater fisheries can be defined as Tailrace fishing which occurs at the outflow from large dams, where the size of the reservoir creates a steep temperature gradient, with colder water stored at the bottom of the reservoir near the outlet. The constant cold-water flow provided by the reservoir’s outflow, coupled with the generally silt-free nature of the outflow, creates ideal water conditions for cold-water fish such as trout in environments that ordinarily might not support a robust trout population”



TailWaters will provide great fishing, do some research and go out an explore.

Thanks Dave for a great write up, check out the link and promo code!








Tailwater Techniques

If you have tailwaters near you, you are very lucky. Tailwaters are commonly referred to the waters below a dam.  The bottom of the lake above will have nice cool water.  If the dam is bottom releasing as many are, then as they release water through the dam the lucky side effect the creation of trout habitat in the waters below them with a constant flow of cool water.

Tailwaters create interesting ecosystems, not unlike large spring creeks in water chemistry and biology. Some spring creek techniques can work on tailwaters.  Following are some tricks I’ve learned over the year….and some good bugs.


  • Go small close to the dam. The water temperatures can stay pretty constant. The water won’t go through the typical seasonality as a freestone river. Thus, the constant very cold water that comes from bottom release dams doesn’t usually grow large insects. Some typical sizes are 22-16 for most dry flies and nymphs.
  • This can be very technical fishing. You really need to match bugs exactly as you can. Tailwaters tend to produce large numbers of bugs so fish get very good at knowing what they are eating.  When matching, go size first, then shape, then color.


  • Get you bobber. Most tailwaters produce large numbers of aquatic invertebrates that never turn into flying bugs. Scuds, aquatic worms, and sowbugs are often very abundant in tailwaters.  Fish stay down. Why risk going to the surface and getting plucked by an eagle or osprey when you’ve got a food conveyor down deep.


  • Remember that tailwaters have different hydrology than other rivers. Some large hydroelectric dams vary their outflow according to energy needs, creating flows that fluctuate enormously. Some dams have very stable outflows, far more stable than a river formed by snowmelt or rainfall. It is wise to check with local fly shops and government agencies about what to expect out of the tailwater you plan to fish. You can check the current flows on our site here.


  • Fish during off periods. In the dog days of summer, most streams are far too warm to fish…..not tailwaters. During the dead of winter when everything else is frozen over…..not tailwaters. Give ‘em a go, you’ll be glad you did.

That’s it for now my fishy friends. Remember, put in “Blog20” in the coupon code section and get 20% off all of our flies


Tight Lines and Screaming Drags


-David Jolie-

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