Dry Fly Fishing

It may be so that most trout feed below the surface most of the time, but it’s still my favorite kind of fly fishing. This is where you present an imitation of an adult insect that has reached maturity and is floating on the surface film of the water. The excitement in watching a large trout come from below and take the fly is how I got hooked onto fly fishing in the first place. If you're like me, the sight of a rising trout will make your heart skip a beat. Keeping in mind that if you only fish dry flies, you will probably catch less fish than your buddy’s that are nymph fishers. However, there’s is times when they come into their own and also catch larger more educated trout.
Often, beginners walk right up to the water and make a cast. To be really effective as a fly fisherman you will need to take the time to learn how trout live and feed. Subsequently, you will then understand where likely trout lies are in the water. When you approach the water look for places where fish can hold without expending much energy and where they have protection from predators. Hopefully you are wearing good quality polarized glasses so you can learn to identify a holding trout under the water. Focus on those spots where they should be and wait for any shadows to move. Those moving shadows are feeding trout. The biggest clue to where a trout is holding is when they are feeding on the surface. Look for small ripples that accompany the small splash of a surface feeding trout. Now keep watching and you will see that trout come to the surface. 
 Every fly fisherman knows that one of the keys to success is the ability to recognize early stages of a hatch. What if you could accurately predict the timing of a hatch before it begins? It would give you head start over all other fisherman and allow you to prepare with the right fly. The fish are always greedy and hungry at the very beginning of a hatch. This is the most productive and easiest time to fish. However, many fly fishermen are too slow to identify a hatch. The fish then get slow and difficult to catch as their hunger subsides. In the later stages of a hatch the fish will become very choosy and your chances of success will significantly narrow. For many fly fishermen the best most productive time is over by the time they get their fly in the water. 


Steps in improving your chances

1: Use as long a leader as you can: When trout feed on the surface, they are obviously looking up to see their meals coming to them. Because of this, if your fly line is too close to your leader the trout will see it and will not take the fly. Make sure to have on as long a leader as you are comfortable fishing to prevent unnecessary spooking of the trout. Sometimes there is too much foliage to have a long leader. I try to have a minimum of 9 feet of leader and up to 15ft if possible. Longer leader is harder to manipulate so it’s wise to start with a 9ft tapered leader. Down the road you may then be able to tie up your own Leader from a selection of different Leader diameters tapered down to a fine tipped. NB remember to degrease the leader before you use it otherwise it will float and reflex light, To a trout this would look like a length of rope on the surface!

2) Match the hatch: Take notice of the Dun’s flying around you. Give the bushes next to the water a little shake a get a good look at what flies off or else use a siv- net to retrieve some specimen’s .It is good to know the color of the naturals around you, but it is imperative that you have the right size. The right color fly that is too large will leave you empty handed where as the fly that is close in color and is the right size will still be very effective. Better again is for you perform a kick sample and simply catch a small sample of nymphs and look at the wing cases to see if they are dark and lumpy. This will indicate a hatch within the next 1-2 hours. Also by catching nymph sample you will be able to quickly find out which nymph is going to produce the hatch. This is crucial knowledge as you can choose the right fly for some serious fishing action. This kick sample will spare you time and helps you to become more accurate in your fly selection for the oncoming hatch.

3) Cast upstream: Stealth is on your side if you take this approach. As I've already mentioned, if a trout sees your fly line, it won’t take your fly. That goes the same for you. If you step into its view you will have a very frustrating experience. Cast your dry fly upstream. Now, any trout that you may be trying to catch are facing away from you and should be in direct line with your fly that is now traveling downstream towards you and the fish on the current. As the fly makes its way back towards you strip in the loose line so that when trout takes the fly you can set the hook. Avoid casting directly upstream from where you are. This causes your fly to directly follow the fly line and will also make trout wary. Any few degrees off will do to the left or the right. You may fish dry flies down stream but I would only advise this for very difficult trout or at dark but you have to be very accurate with your casting and allow a longer pause before setting the hook.

4) Limit false casting: Trout can be very shy and easily put down. Especially in the day light. The less false casting you do, the more opportunity you will have to catch trout. You should only be false casting to dry your fly. If you are false casting because you lack accuracy, then move closer and perform shorter casts. Move slowly to keep your stealth advantage. When you do false cast, try to change the direction of the cast so the line doesn't fly over the water you are fishing. Practice your casting. Eventually, you should be able to pick up your line and cast it with accuracy the first time.

5) Back Makers: If competitions have taught me anything it’s begin able to extract as much trout out of a small area as possible. This is very relevant to dry fly fishing, When fish are rising it’s important to position yourself in an area where you can achieve maximum advantage. By keeping well below the feeding trout and picking off the trout that a lying at the end of the run it allows you to drag the fighting fish away from other feeding trout without disturbing them and thus you will be able to catch more as you move up through them. Some anglers simply don’t think of this and run to the first available trout at the head of the run which if they hook will simply splash and kick and put down the rest. It’s a small bit of common since that’s needs to be practiced more.

6) Day and night: There are a few tips between fishing dries in the day and the night. We will look at the day first of all. In the day, firstly the light intensity will be higher than that in late evening or night so trout will obviously see a lot more, Taking this into account tippet diameter will be much lighter, Leader lengths will be much longer and the flies themselves will be much slimmer and sparsely tied. The type of water too is very important. In the day time did you ever catch trout in very shallow fast moving water even if no rises are present? I bet you have. The answer is because their window of view is very small .The deeper the trout are lying the bigger their window of vision is and thus the more time they have to inspect the fly. Shallow water allows very little time for a trout to inspect a fly and if it’s moving fast even more so. So fish more shallow water in the day time. At night you can fish all types of water but the slower water is easier to see a take and also the trout will be up near the surface under low light. They obviously feel much more at ease feeding under the cover of darkness.

7) Tackle: Irrespective of the size of river be it fast-moving, Slow-moving, wide or narrow a 9ft soft to medium action fly rod will suffice in most situations. The rod doesn’t have to be any longer because the majority of dry fly fishing is practiced at short range. As the rod weight 3-4# weight is ideal. Why so light? Very simply when using a light line you are less lightly to have drag problems as the line will be much more slimmer than that of a 5# weight or 6# weight. The line itself is only casting a very small and lightly weighted hook. The only time I would use a 4# weight line is when there is a down-stream wind present. You may need a bit more weight to help turn over in this situation and also you may need to shorten the leader length also.

Michael Drinan