Reading the Water

Reading the water is a term used by fly anglers to determine many things.  

Where to find the lanes the fish might be holding in.
What insects the fish may be keying on.

Cover in the water that the fish might seek out for protection.

Seams in the current that present the best feeding lanes.

How to identify riffles, runs, and pools. 

Fish, and especially trout, will seek a place where they expend the least amount of energy in order to feed on the natural resources in the river. For example, the very end of a riffle as it tails out or the upstream part of a pool as the food supply is moving out of a riffle or a narrow part of the river.  Seams in the current provide less turbulance that the trout has to fight in order to feed.

As you learn to read the water, look for cover and other objects that break the current, such as logs and boulders in the stream that provide a place for the trout to hold in calmer water where they can slip out in the current and feed and then retreat to the cover or protection of the water break.  These areas are called "holding lies".

All the above mentioned conditions are a part of reading the water.  So, before you just step into the water and start casting on your next fishing trip, take time to read the water before you cast.  Not only are you slowing down long enough to "smell the roses" as they may very well be enhancing your ability to locate the fish more quickly and thus become more proficient as an angler.

Reading the water should always be the first thing you do as you prepare for your day of catching fish.