What do we mean, aren't we fly-fishing. Isn't the beauty of fly-fishing in the casting, the loop of fly-line running forward, unraveling and softly lighting upon the water in front of a waiting trout? Well, when done right is sure is a beautiful sight, but on a small stream you'll end up in the trees long before you're able to get the fly on the water. Get comfortable with the fact that you'll never spey cast on a small stream, you may perform a standard overhead cast, possibly a roll cast, definitely a "flick" cast and more times than you would like to admit, the dapping.
Small waters mean tight quarters, many times you'll have tree limbs over your head, you might be in the middle of a willow thicket trying to keep out of view of that one trout in the beaver pond, there might be boulders that you just can't cast around. This is all the provenance of small water fishing. It's part of the beauty of fishing in water that few rarely choose to fish.
Many times on small water you will literally have a foot or two of fly line out. For anyone with enough understanding of our sport, it's the fly line that does the work of casting, when you only have a few feet of fly line out there is no way to cast correctly. Instead, you’re going to perform the "flick" cast. To perform the "flick" cast, get out enough line to get to the pool or pocket that you want to fish. Next, look to see where tree limbs are, you want to make sure your flick stays out of the trees. Finally, flick the line into the pool or pocket. Basically, the "flick" cast is a modified roll cast that doesn't use the tension of the line on the water to load the rod, since, to be honest, there's no, or almost no, fly line on the water.
Don't forget about the bow and arrow cast. Grab the fly line, pull it back and put some tension on the rod tip. Aim the rod tip where you want shoot the line and then let go. Just as if you were shooting an arrow from a bow. It's an effective cast to get into tight places with a lot of overhead shrubbery. Just be careful not to hook yourself with that rushing arrow, er, hook!
Now, if you're really lucky you may get the chance to perform a simple overhead cast. Sometimes the stars align and you find a pool that has a long stretch of stream behind it and nothing overhead. Here is the time to break out that overhead cast and get that fly to the far end of the pool. It's always great on a small stream to luck into these pools and really get that line out.
The worst thing a small water neophyte runs into is tangled line. It's not fun to untie a fly from a tree branch and it's even less fun to lose a fly to a limb too high to reach. By forgetting those fancy casts and focusing on the easiest way to get the fly on the water will stave off some of these troubles. Fly fishing isn't fly casting!
As always, Good Luck and Guid Luck!