Bray's Beginners Tips for Fishing the Guadalupe

Those who have witnessed me fishing the Guadalupe will be amazed that I have the gall to provide fishing tips to anyone. But despite my awkward wading and worse casting, I do find a fish now and again. So here is what little I can provide in the way of fishing tips—they work for me and are standard techniques on any water.

There are two methods of fishing the Guadalupe that most people go back to when the fish aren't biting. They don't always work, but if they don't, it's usually a good time to sightsee. The methods are quite different but have one thing in common: they only work if you get your fly down on the bottom. They work best in a riffle or run of over two feet in depth. Here they are; try them at your own risk.


Rigging. Put a strike indicator at the end of a tapered leader ending in 2 or 3X. (I like a 7 footer for streamers and nymphing.) Tie on a 5X tippet below the indicator. This distance should be adjusted from 1.5 to 2 times the depth of water you intend to fish. I prefer to fish two nymphs at a time, or a nymph and an attractor like a Wooly Bugger. Fishing two flies at a time with this rig can be frustrating—get used to fishing one nymph at a time first, then go to two. The way it’s rigged is shown below:


T_______________I________________W___ F


T - Tapered leader.

I - Indicator. I like yarn soaked with floatant, but cork and other types are fine.

W - Weight, usually size B or BB split shot, 6–12 inches above the fly.

F - Flies, best size range is #16 to #20. Good patterns include Prince, Hare's Ear, Pheasant Tail, Squirrel, Tellico, and caddis pupa patterns. Use unweighted flies for better action.

Suggested Distances: T to I = 7–9 feet; I to W = 3–6 feet; W to F = 6–12 inches (some suggest as much as 18 inches).

Fishing. Fish upstream with short casts, doing any mending or tip flipping necessary to keep the indicator in a natural drift condition—drag is your enemy. Advanced manipulations include roll casting to the fly, throwing slack, high sticking as the fly floats by, etc.—all are designed to eliminate drag and get the fly to the bottom. If you are fishing more than 15–20 feet of line above the indicator in any kind of current you are probably dragging for most of the drift. Shorten up and get to the bottom.


Rigging. A 7-foot tapered leader to 2X , with a 2X or 3X tippet of 34 feet in length added on. In most instances, weight will be required to be effective. It can be added to the fly, as in a jig or similar pattern, or added to the tippet. Weight placement directly in front of the fly provides a jigging action that works very well with Wooly Buggers and other soft-tailed flies. For Matukas and other feather or hair wing streamers, a split shot 812 inches above the fly is the norm. My favorite streamers are Wooly Buggers, 1/64 to 1/32 ounce marabou or fake-fur jigs, or flies tied on jig hooks with barbell eyes. These get to the bottom fast and have great action in the water. Sizes from #10 to #2 are common. I prefer a #8 or so, but often a big #2 can be deadly.

Fishing. Again the goal is to present the fly near the bottom, but now it is also important to keep the fly broadside to the current and moving in a controlled fashion. Slight jigging motion is my preferred approach, but many prefer stripping. I like to wiggle the tip of the rod without taking in line. This lets you keep the fly near structure like banks, rocks, and trees longer than if you’re retrieving line in big strips. Sometimes big strips are what the fish want, though, so it pays to experiment with retrieve styles. With a Wooly bugger or other soft tailed flies, a dead drift is often a good approach. This is the best method I know in high water conditions: fish the banks with big soft-tailed streamers, and if it doesn't work, go back to sightseeing.

These techniques will work for over 90 percent of all fishing situations on the Guadalupe and have been a "go to" option that has paid off for me many times. Again the key is keeping the fly near the bottom—so if you don't hang up once in a while, add more weight or lengthen your tippet or both.

Alan Bray, Past President, GRTU

Return to October 1998 Newsletter