Pocket Water

What is Pocket Water?

Pocket Water is created by large obstructions (logs, boulders, etc.). The current is disrupted by the objects, creating a Y-shaped "pocket" of slower moving water (see pictures below). This provides a number of great places for fish to lie.

 

Where do fish hold in Pocket Water?

Location 1 - The Center Seam

This is the most ideal spot for trout to hold in Pocket Water. At the center, there exists a relatively slower area. With the current running faster on both sides, fish are able to stay in the slower water (conserving energy) while they wait for a nice meal to pass by. The rough surface also obscures the view of overhead predators adding a nice level of security.

Location 2 - The Y

With converging currents, the water is pushed in a number of different directions. Left, right, towards the rock, downstream. Although it is not an impossible trout lie, the swirling currents make it hard for the fish to comfortably stay in one place and for anglers to get flies to the right depth/position.

Location 3 - The Sides

Remembering back to the current section (click here to read it), recall that friction slows current. Hitting the sides of the rock, current slows just enough to provide a great hold. Definitely try your luck here.

Location 4 - The Front

This is often a very overlooked spot. As current travels downstream, it hits the rock head on ⬇. Similar to a bouncy ball, some of that energy rebounds pushing back against the current ⬆. The two forces counteract each other causing an area of slower water 🔃 . You'll be surprised at how many fish call this spot home.

 

What is the best way to fish Pocket Water?

The hardest part about fishing pocket water is the multiple currents involved (see picture below). With faster currents on the outside, a slower current down the middle, and a swirling eddy in the pocket, you've got quite a task on your hand.

 

To complicate the issue, a standard nymph rig is not optimized for the challenge. Why? The rig is comprised of a leader, strike indicator, tippet, split shot, and flies (see first picture below). Since the strike indictor is anywhere from 4-8 feet above the flies, it is hard not to land it in a differing current and affect the fly's drift.

For example, you cast your fly right at the base of the rock into the slower water, but your indicator lands in the fast current... your indictor will flow quickly down river, pulling your fly along with it (towards the surface & downstream, see second picture below). Long story short, it's very difficult to achieve a natural drift.

 

So then how to I get my flies right in front of the fish?

No indictor or Euronymphing

If you want to keep your standard nymph rig and regular pole, just try it without the indicator. Keep your rod tip level and follow the flies as they drift downstream. Without an indicator, detecting strikes is going to take some practice. If you feel a little tug or notice any odd line movement... set the hook!

Euronymphing is probably the best bet for this type of water. The longer pole, heavier flies, and long leader make it easier to reduce drag and stay in the strike zone. This is an advanced technique that we will cover in a different section.

Dry-Dropper Rig

This rig limits the distance between the dry-fly (acts as an indicator) and nymph to only 18-24 inches (see picture below). The shorter distance provides better control and limits the other fly from drifting into a counter-current. There is also a chance the fish strikes the dry-fly, especially in shallow water. Give it a try!  

Pocket water can hold a bunch of fish. Be sure to not overlook it the next time you are on the river. In our next water types section, we'll cover riffles.