September 19, 2012

Autumn Colors and Knee Pads

The mountains are changing here in the Intermountain West. The maples are turning red and in the high country the Aspen are turning yellow. The days are warm but the nights and mornings are crisp and cold. The smell of autumn is in the air. This makes fishing a wonderful experience for all of the senses.

Autumn, however, also means low and clear water. This year has been especially dry so the undammed rivers are spooky low. This is not limited to the Utah-Idaho region, but a lot of the country is experiencing record low precipitation.

from US Drought Monitor

Low and clear water makes fish skittish and easy to spook. To combat this it is often best to get down on your knees, not to pray --although this may help some days, but to lower your profile. The less there is for the fish to see the better in general.

Low and clear water requires absolute stealth

I first started using knee pads when I lived in Colorado and after I read Fishing the South Platte River: An Anglers Guide by Roger Hill. In there, Mr Hill shows that lowering your profile can often mean the difference between a successful stalk or not. I have used knee pads ever since, whenever the situation has required it. I also have a pair of knee pads in my car ready to go.

Pools can hold a surprising number of fish during low water situations

Using knee pads can take a little getting used to. They can bind your waders at the knee making them uncomfortable. They can twist or rotate if you "knee walk" while stalking a fish. Some types of pads can slowly ride down so that when you kneel they are too low on your shin to do any good. Still, despite this, they protect your waders and your knees.

I have used all types of knee pads. Some I like and some I don't . The best knee pads that I have found are BLACKHAWK! neoprene knee pads. These are the pads used by the US military. They are contoured to fit your knee and they have a patch on the inner surface that keeps them from sliding or rotating on your waders. They have multiple layers of Velcro straps to attach the pads. Finally, they have the softest, gushiest pads that protect your knees. In short, I have found them to be the answer for my knee pad quest.

BLACKHAWK! knee pads in action

Another alternative is to make your own pads by attaching them directly to your waders. I am too much of a weeny to do this as it would void the warranty of my waders. That said, attached pads are probably the best overall answer since they definitely would not go anywhere, but stay put and protect your knees.

Here are some fish from the other day that I caught while on my knees. I probably would have spooked them if I hadn't been down low.

A 12 inch Bonneville cutthroat

A 14 incher taken with the Sagiri

14 inch rainbow taken with the Daiwa LL41SF

Little brookie. Small but pretty.


  1. Replies
    1. They are pretty little guys for sure. I don't get many of them where I usually fish but there were a lot in the beaver pond that I was fishing.



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