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Old AuSable Fly Shop


Currently in Grayling, MI:


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River Flows:

Mio Dam
967 ft³/s
Smith Bridge
312 ft³/s
Parmalee Bridge
1050 ft³/s

Lily Pad Fly Fishing Structure

Lily Pad Fly Fishing


Lily pads may look like a giant salad on the water at first glance, but they are nuanced structures that house many fish. They may not seem initially appealing for fly fishing but there is much potential in these salad bowls. Minnows, spiders, bugs, and more sustain themselves in these areas, inevitably luring in many predator fish for you to battle with. Lily pads offer the fly fisherman a distinct advantage over the spin fisherman - in fly fishing, we are able to drop our fly into an open area, animate it, and retrieve it while avoiding the tangles. 

Holes in the pads, areas of open water, are common hot spots for fly fishing in these structures. Bugs lay eggs, hatch, small fish gather, and insects skate across the water – making the open areas a great feasting ground for predator fish. The main key to fishing these holes is twofold – selecting a good pattern, and delivering it in the appropriate manner.

To wit, if you are using a pattern resembling a frog, you aren’t going to drop the frog from the sky directly into the water. You must cast it near the opening and then pull the fly across the opening in a natural manner – no stopping or resting. Then you can wiggle around the edges of the pads to simulate more natural movement. Working along the edges of a pad opening with a similar pattern can also yield good results.

Hot Spots

Smaller fish often congregate near the edges of a lily pad structure. This may be due to less competition from larger fish in these areas.

Don’t ignore the sub-surface features of the pads, either. There are often more pads and vegetation lurking below, providing more character to this neighborhood.

Tailor your approach to the weather – in colder water, you’ll want sinking lines and in warmer water the fish will be closer to the surface.

So, fly fisher of the world, don't be afraid to venture into the salad. You might get some nice protein along with the veggies. 

Home to:

  • Largemouth Bass
  • Panfish
  • Pike
  • Musky
  • Smallmouth Bass

Good patterns:

  • Weedless Frog Imitations
  • Poppers
  • Spiders
  • Anything with rubber legs
  • Streamers



Lots of fish Tangled lines and fish caught in vegetation
Lots of prety for gamefish Can be difficult to set the hook
Common Often requires a boat to reach


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