What Is Skinny Water in Fly Fishing?

Skinny water in fly fishing is a term used to describe shallow bodies of water that are typically less than two feet deep. These waters are often filled with vegetation and other obstacles, making it difficult to wade in and access areas where the fish may be hiding.

Fly fishermen have developed special techniques to help them navigate these shallow waters without spooking the fish.

The most important factor when fishing skinny water is stealth. Fishermen must move slowly and deliberately so as not to disturb the water or alert the fish of their presence.

Wading can be difficult in this type of environment, and waders should take extra care not to kick up mud or stir the bottom of the lake or riverbed. Some fishermen even opt for wading with no shoes at all, as any disturbance from soles can lead to an unsuccessful outing.

Fishing gear must also be chosen carefully when fishing in skinny water. Longer rods are often preferred as they allow for more accurate casts and provide more distance between the fisherman and the Target area. Lightweight lines with long leaders are also sometimes used in order to keep lures or bait away from visible surfaces, which can help keep them hidden from wary fish.

In addition to proper equipment, fly fishermen must also consider bait choice when fishing skinny water. Making sure that lures or bait match the size of prey that local species would typically feed on is essential for success in this type of environment. Additionally, using natural baits such as insects or worms can also be effective as they will blend into their surroundings more easily.


Skinny water in fly fishing can be challenging but rewarding if done properly. By taking extra care not to disturb the water surface, using lightweight lines with long leaders, and choosing lures or bait that match local prey sizes, anglers can increase their chances of success when fishing these shallow waters.

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Emma Gibson