Friday, August 10, 2012

Zen and the Sprit of the Nanopool

During the summer, I had a chance to take my tenkara rod, and guide others, to a wide variety of Colorado high country water.  I fished ripping, reddish-brown freestones blown full of summer rain, in which the only places a trout could survive were the leeward side of boulders in the deep recesses of nooks and crannies out of harm’s way.  I fished relatively big (on the tenkara scale) tailwaters, so deep and fast I could barely shuffle my 130-pound body halfway across without being torn off the bottom and deposited in the next larger river forty miles downstream.  And I fished slow, meandering sections of meadow water, working the cutbanks and oxbows with hoppers.  But the greatest joys of my summer were seeking out the tiniest blue lines on the map and on the ground, and putting dry flies on pools no bigger around than a skillet.  I call them nanopools.  The fact that tenkara makes fishing these spots not only possible, but productive, made it all that much better.

What is a nanopool?  Well, they come in all shapes and sizes, but most of them are so small they usually only hold one fish.   They occur on only the smallest streams.  Streams that you can easily spit across and ones you really don’t need even hip waders for.  Late in the summer they shrink even more, as the snowfields on the peaks melt and evaporate their way into nonexistence.

Trout holding in nanopools are feisty and will smack just about any dry fly you put in front of them.  They will hold at the far end of the plunge pool, and the edges of the pools where they can feed but remain hidden.  If you catch one, you’d better move on because he was the only one. 

 Luckily, small mountain streams are dotted with nanopools and you can spend a while day fishing just a half-mile of water, letting the spirit of the nanopool take you away as you lose all sense of time.

Seek out these tiny streams and pools, and you’ll be as addicted to them as I am.  Be ready to spend most of your time on your knees or hiding behind boulders.  The water is so clear and shallow that you must use all the stealthy skills in your quiver to remain unseen.

Tiny places in an immense landscape…what’s not to love!


  1. Great article! I agree the small backcountry streams are the best and the little brookies love the dry flies. I personally need to work on the stealthy part big time!

  2. Great post Paul! I will certainly bookmark your site and check it out more often.