It’s never too glary to find a few fish, you just have to adapt your strategy.
First up, look for a solid backdrop and then look for a height advantage. As hard as it might be to put into practice just forget about that stuff that you can’t see into and put all your focus on the water that you can. Make sure to position yourself the best that you can to see into the absolute best of the water, you may need to sacrifice good water to get the advantage on great water but it’s usually worth it.
Choose a lens that draws in light. My light copper / neon lenses are perfect for these situations and while my favourite all round photochromic copper lenses will suffice, why not make life a little bit easier for yourself in this tougher conditions.
AND SLOW DOWN! Let the fish reveal themselves. This is probably the best advice I can give to any angler on any given day, but especially grey, low light days. If you think there should be a fish there then chances are there will be, you just need to chill out and wait for the moment it stuffs up and gives its position away.
Wear tones to match the dull day. On this particular day stalking along high banks my black softshell stood out way too much with all the grey above and behind, so Chris, in his Simms G4 Pro Jacket took the lead, moving slowly and undetected amongst the scrub, and we did alright.
Don’t expect to find too many fish swinging 30m distant on glary days where you have plenty of time to plan your strategy. This is very rarely the reality. It will most often be close quarters reveals, and often you will be right alongside the fish. Whether you have a shot at him or not depends on how prepared you are.
Firstly, are you rigged correctly? What would you do if there’s a fish sitting right beside you in 30cm water, and you have a split shot loaded, stonefly rig attached? Probably nothing.
If you’re leaving a deeper run and approaching softer water above simply take the time to rerig in advance. There are numerous ways to get a lighter fly deeper, or noticed but not many ways of stopping a couple of BB shot from finding the rocks in softer, shallower edgewaters.
Be prepared. If your best visibility is in the shallows beside you it’s no use having a 20 foot leader and split shot rig. Go shorter and lighter with flies that will fish through the water at hand. Likewise if your vis suddenly becomes clearer deeper out, change out before you stalk that water and find that fish you just won’t cover with your shallower water rig.
When I’m switching out regularly like this I carry Loon Rigging Foams for quick, easy changeovers. I might have one rigged up with a heavy stonefly and a natural dropper, one with an attractor fly and smaller dropper, and one with a pair of smaller, lighter naturals. Simply attach whichever rig you need with just one quick, well-practised knot, and get your flies out there tangle free in no time at all.
Finally, the biggest issue I see with anglers is the inability to attach the flies to the rod, but more often, getting the flies off the rod and onto the water before the fish knows you are there. You may only have three or four seconds to drop that fly in front of that fish you are almost stepping on, so this needs to be a practiced technique.