Flooding can be a major problem for fish, not just us humans.

With vast amounts of debris and sediment being pushed downstream, it can be tough for fish to discern what’s food and what’s not. Not only that, but, too much sediment can clog up their gills.

But, fish still got to eat.


“Blown out” streams are when the water is extremely fast moving with a few inches or feet higher than average and full of sediment, aka dirty water.

Yes, you can still catch fish when streams are blown out.

Fish dislike high muddy water just as much as us. They, typically, stay close to the edges and down close to the bottom to avoid the powerful currents. Due to the friction of the water meeting the banks of the stream, water along the edges can be drastically slower than the rapid center. The combination of slower moving water along the bank and the bottom of the stream makes it safer for fish to swim. So, seams, eddies, and slow water along the banks are the ideal location for fish seeking refuge from the storm to rest.

  • Long stretches of water followed by a deep pool
  • Deep water
  • Eddies behind obstructions like fallen trees, boulders, etc.

This is exactly where you want to place your flies.


You will also want to ‘up’ the strength of your tippet and leader. Rather than risking your chances by fly fishing light 6x to 4x line, use line from 3x to 0x and here’s why.

Fish see ⅓ of what they normally see in dirty water. This means you can get away with heavier tippets and they still won’t see it. Play it safe and up your weight.


Your odds of success are heavily dependent on your choice of fly patterns in murky water.

Usually, I like to fish smaller flies and little nymph patterns, but fly fishing in high water and in its apparent low water clarity means you need patterns that can be easily spotted. That’s when I leave all that in the car and bring a small selection of bright attractors, large heavy nymph patterns, and flashy streamers.

Don’t be afraid to go big. Remember, water flows are much faster and higher so it will take much more weight to get down to where the fish are holding. If you feel like you’re not getting down fast enough, add a split shot or two a few inches above your flies.

Here are trout flies we use in high muddy water

1. White Muddy Bunny

White shows up well in dirty water and has a decent contrast. Most anglers do not know that streamers, like this one, dead drifted below an indicator can be extremely effective.

2. Newbury’s Dirty Hipster
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3. Tungsten Missile
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4. Beaded Black Woolly Bugger
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5. Squirmy Wormy

Here is the complete breakdown of tips for fly fishing blown out streams:

  1. Cast along seams and slower moving pools along the banks and behind obstructions.
  2. Use weighted nymphs to get down near the bottom
  3. Streamers can be swung for larger fish
  4. Split-shots are great for adding more weight
  5. Use indicators to place precision shots in seams you can’t reach
  6. Never attempt to cross the stream or wade in
  7. Use a wading stick to carefully place your feet along the banks


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