Fifty Tips Tips/Tactics

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #47 — See the Dead Drift

on
June 24, 2018

The dead drift. That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s the baseline for a good presentation and the starting point for real success in fly fishing. Oh sure, we strip streamers. We swing wet flies. And on occasion we may dance an Elk Hair Caddis on its hackle across the river. But by and large, the dead drift is our objective when fishing for trout — especially wild ones.

While fishing dries, I want a dead drift. Nymphs, same thing. Even my best streamer presentations have portions of a dead drift built in. Trout around here love what I call a crossover technique. I treat part of the streamer’s path as a dead drift (like a nymph) and the rest of it with some motion (strips, pops and jigs — like a streamer).

With some dismay, I realize that I’ve now been fly fishing for twenty-seven years. (Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not. — Stephen King.) And with each season on the water, with every trip to the river, my ability to read a dead drift improves. What I thought were good drifts at sixteen years of age were, quite simply, not quality presentations. And I say this without reservation — I’m certain that my own ability to truly recognize a dead drifting fly will be markedly improved once I’ve fished for thirty-seven years. It’s all about time on the water.

And that’s the point — experience is the only real teacher for things like this.

Photo by Bill Dell

I’m reminded of the young Little League players that I teach to catch fly balls. When they cross over to the Minors division, the strength of larger bodies suddenly makes fly balls hit to the outfield a real thing to be dealt with. And none of them can judge the distance of a baseball behind them until they’ve seen it hundreds — no, thousands — of times. Sure, they get lucky on occasion and get it right — the ball hits the mitt and they chuck it to the cutoff man. But it takes seasons for even the most gifted kid to judge the position of a fly ball.

It’s the same thing with seeing a dead drift.

We may think that our fly is traveling with the current, unaltered on its course by a tethered line, but if the trout aren’t responding, then a true dead drift is the first thing to look for.

Look closer.

What is a dead drift anyway? It’s when a fly is allowed to travel in one current seam without influence from the tippet. The fly then drifts like a real bug might. And as difficult as it may be to see or achieve, the dead drift is the baseline for success out there.

How do you see it? Look closer. It’s hard enough with a dry fly but even harder with any pattern under the water. The invisible fly requires more guesswork and calculation. There’s a disconnect with what we can see an analyze above the surface and what might actually be going on underneath.

So what can we do?

Think more. Fish harder.

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

Click here for details.

 

FIFTY TIPS

Read All of the Fifty Tips Series
TAGS

1
What do you think?

1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
2 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
  Follow the comments on this article.  
Notify of
Dan Repella

Great article as always. It would be cool if the Modern Nymphing guys get true underwater footage, not just surveyors tape on a stick.

Domenick Swentosky
BELLEFONTE, PA

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

STICKERS
STICKERS
TAGS
DJS reading water mono rig Wild vs Stocked Burke leaders big fish dry fly fishing Peace nymphing tips spawning Orvis high water Wild Brown Trout strategy philosophy George Daniel Press Mystery Doh ice Little Juniata River Discovery Floating Presentations Baseball musician Dad Dylan PA Gold Gierach TU waders public land front ended marginal water stinky bass wet flies split shot big brown trout shark fly patterns Namer solitude angler types Fly Casting Boat Trout Unlimited knots camera come on man montana beadhead Resources How it Started indicator nymphing Sawyer Oakiewear spot burning drop shot nymphing Night Fishing Rich patience fishing tips hiking PFBC Plans Ask an Expert bar boots Euro-Nymphing summer Harvey Pusher cookout Backing Barrel Grandfather Tippet Rings Joey saltwater wet wading Bad Mother efficiency Sighter wet fly fishing fall tippet fluke safety carp nymphing Fifty Tips home-stream dog Davy Wotten small streams indicator fishing winter fly fishing wild trout stocked trout wildlife flies brush fishing Fish Hard Night LBI Central PA traction Christmas Lights tenkara club fishing flood rules DIY brookies mud comp fishing favorite Jeff Spring Creek suspender fishing George Harvey dead drift drifting family regulations BES Weather mousing streamside falling in fishing with kids backcast the Mono Rig tips History bite windows tightline tight lining walking Stockies giveaway nymphs night-sighter simplicity conservation posted land Galloup mistakes Whiskey mayfly Dry-Dropper Memories droppers Grobe Float Fishing dorsey yarn indicator summertime fishing net It's just fishing explore One Great Tip fighting fish Camping Aiden Whiskey Drinker casting skunked Headbanger Sculpin winter Industry Stuff tracks rookies Trust fly line Fly rods dry flies last cast etiquette trout bum boys rigs photography Streamer fishing float friendship swinging time Night Fishing Chapters brown trout fly tying thunderstorm surf fishing friends Pennsylvania winter fishing Quote Fly Fishing fly box tiny flies Wild Mushrooms backcountry wading science matters travel Buggers tight line nymphing wading boots DHALO silence Troutbitten Fly Box Streamers catch and release PSA Big Trout gear