Throughout the season I fish with anglers of all skill levels: beginners and intermediates, experts and past masters. One of the relationships I’ve noticed over the years is that as the skill level of an angler increases, so too does the time they spend fishing from their knees. This relationship is both enduring and consistent, age and physical limitations notwithstanding. And it holds true on all different types of water, from the smallest creeks to the largest rivers. Stillwaters are no exception either (though typically there’s less call for kneeling on ponds and lakes).
Respect for the trout buttresses this relationship. The best anglers understand that they’re pursuing wild animals, animals possessed of age-old instincts and a keen vigilance for their surroundings. The largest, toughest trout want nothing to do with humans, and would just as soon never see one. No matter where they live, such fish are never pushovers. Kneeling keeps the angler out of sight, allowing for a closer approach than would otherwise be possible. Observation becomes easier. Presentation challenges are markedly less complicated. The odds of a successful hook-set increase. Kneeling is certainly not required all the time—or even much of the time, depending on the water—but rarely is there a day astream where I don’t find myself or my angling partner crouching down at some point.
As can be seen in the photos below—excerpted from Eric Taverner’s Trout Fishing From All Angles (1929)—these ideas are nothing new. From time immemorial the finest anglers of every generation have discovered these essential truths. Today’s anglers are no exception.