Articles in the Category Dry Fly Fishing

Dry Fly Fishing — Back Door, Side Door, Front Door | When the first cast matters most: Part Two

When fishing dries, the cautious angler has many chances to fool a rising trout. Start behind the trout at the back door. Next move over and try the side door, beside the trout. Then try going right down the middle and through the front door.

Making consecutive casts with a dry fly produces often enough to believe that the next cast will seal the deal. But there’s a lot more to it . . .

Dry Flies on the Mono Rig

For many years, I never much considered casting dry flies on a Mono Rig as a viable option. I enjoyed the art of casting a dry with a traditional fly line. And if you asked me about dries on a long leader system back then, I’d shake my head and tell you something about using the right tool for the job. But in the last few years, much of that has changed. And now, I suggest that a long Mono Rig is, in fact, the right tool for the job — sometimes.

There’s a time and place for everything. And fishing dry flies on the Mono Rig has become one of my favorite ways to approach trout, not just because it’s a convenient and quick variation when swapping over from a tight line nymphing rig, but because it is stunningly effective . . .

Three Styles of Dry Dropper: #3 — Tight Line Dry Dropper

It’s the effectiveness of a nymphing rig and the excitement of a dry fly rig, with boosted catch rates.

In this four part series covering dry dropper styles, I’ve saved the best for last.

I prefer methods that lend excellent control to the angler. And tight line rigs, with direct contact as the primary feature, are built for just that. Add a dry fly to the rig and tight line dry dropper is the best of all possible worlds . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The Crash Cast

Casting styles change with the water. The same stroke that lays a dry line with perfect s-curves in a soft flat is useless in pocket water. As the river picks up speed, so must our casting. Effective drifts are shorter, so we cast more. Mixed surface currents greedily pull our built-in slack over to the next seam. So our casting matches the currents. It’s more aggressive. Faster.

But fishing rough or mixed currents doesn’t mean we give up on a good dead drift. And the best stroke for the job is one that I call the Crash Cast . . .

Dry Flies on the Mono Rig

Dry Flies on the Mono Rig

For many years, I never much considered casting dry flies on a Mono Rig as a viable option. I enjoyed the art of casting a dry with a traditional fly line. And if you asked me about dries on a long leader system back then, I’d shake my head and tell you something about using the right tool for the job. But in the last few years, much of that has changed. And now, I suggest that a long Mono Rig is, in fact, the right tool for the job — sometimes.

There’s a time and place for everything. And fishing dry flies on the Mono Rig has become one of my favorite ways to approach trout, not just because it’s a convenient and quick variation when swapping over from a tight line nymphing rig, but because it is stunningly effective . . .

Three Styles of Dry Dropper: #3 — Tight Line Dry Dropper

Three Styles of Dry Dropper: #3 — Tight Line Dry Dropper

It’s the effectiveness of a nymphing rig and the excitement of a dry fly rig, with boosted catch rates.

In this four part series covering dry dropper styles, I’ve saved the best for last.

I prefer methods that lend excellent control to the angler. And tight line rigs, with direct contact as the primary feature, are built for just that. Add a dry fly to the rig and tight line dry dropper is the best of all possible worlds . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The Crash Cast

Dry Fly Fishing — The Crash Cast

Casting styles change with the water. The same stroke that lays a dry line with perfect s-curves in a soft flat is useless in pocket water. As the river picks up speed, so must our casting. Effective drifts are shorter, so we cast more. Mixed surface currents greedily pull our built-in slack over to the next seam. So our casting matches the currents. It’s more aggressive. Faster.

But fishing rough or mixed currents doesn’t mean we give up on a good dead drift. And the best stroke for the job is one that I call the Crash Cast . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The Stop and Drop

Dry Fly Fishing — The Stop and Drop

A backcast loop unfolds, parallel to the rolling current. The tapered fly line straightens and joins the rod tip on its forward path. It punches through the wet air with a second loop — a horseshoe arc with all the power and energy needed to drive a bushy Royal Wulff to the target.

The rod tip stops above that target — in vertical alignment with the mark, but well above the water’s surface. Tip stops high. Leader shoots out and releases its power. Fly reaches the end of the line. Then the rod tip drops. The line recoils in s-curves as the dropping rod pushes more depth into those bends and arcs.

Fly lands and drifts. Fish eats. Perfection.

That’s the stop and drop. And this simple move is the key to good dead drifts with a dry fly. Let’s look at it closer . . .

Dry Fly Fishing — The George Harvey Leader Design

Dry Fly Fishing — The George Harvey Leader Design

Dry flies were my first love.

I don’t believe I ever bought an extruded, knotless leader back then. I tied my own leaders from the beginning, with blood knots and nippers under the bright bulb of my tying desk. Only later did I learn how critical the Harvey leader design was to my early success.

Because, for dry fly fishing, nothing is more important than the leader . . .

Three Styles of Dry Dropper: #2 — Light Dry Dropper

Three Styles of Dry Dropper: #2 — Light Dry Dropper

Fishing a nymph under a dry is not as simple as looping on a nymph and casting. And some forethought into what your objectives truly are, measured against your options for rigging and fly selection, goes a long way toward filling the net with trout.

Do you want to fish the nymph or the dry? That’s the first question to ask. Of course, each style allows the opportunity to catch trout on both flies, but only the light dry dropper style is tuned in for good drifts on the dry.

While bobber dry dropper and tight line dry dropper are great for fishing the nymph first, light dry dropper is perfect for offering the dry as a primary choice. And sometimes, the frequency of takes on the nymph is stunning . . .

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Three Styles of Dry Dropper: #1 — Bobber Dry Dropper

Three Styles of Dry Dropper: #1 — Bobber Dry Dropper

Commonly, we find trout feeding on multiple stages of a hatching insect. And we easily adapt to this behavior with multi-fly rigs. A pair of nymphs or a brace of wets covers two or three zones under the water, reaching interested trout through the water column. And when both flies are under the surface, the rigging, casting and drifting is straightforward.

But mixing fly styles — fishing both a dry fly and nymph on the same line — requires a different mindset . . .

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Fly Fishing Tips: #51 — Limit the line in and on the water

Fly Fishing Tips: #51 — Limit the line in and on the water

Whatever line touches the river will drag. Start there. Assume it as reality. The currents take your leader, pushing and pulling it downstream. This wouldn’t be so bad if the current could be even all the way across, from bank to bank. But it isn’t. It never is. Even long flats and pools have microcurrents tugging on the leader and tippet, destroying all hopes of a dead drift and complicating the lives of fishermen . . .

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Three Styles of Dry Dropper

Three Styles of Dry Dropper

Adding a nymph to a dry fly rig produces, even if you don’t think much about how to set it up. But in my world, there are three distinct styles of dry dropper fishing. And within each of these types, the elements of fly, nymph and leader are arranged, balanced and modified toward unique objectives.

In most cases, adding a nymph affects the drift of the dry. Worse yet, the weight of the add-on nymph can take away the enjoyment of casting dries in the first place. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

And so, I argue, there are three styles of dry dropper fishing. And when I break it down for my guided clients this way, they fall in love with the idea because it makes sense. The angler first decides what elements are most important — not just for fooling fish, but for his own fishing enjoyment. He then chooses the style of dry dropper that suits the moment . . .

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

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

The dead drift. That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s the baseline for a decent 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 . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #45 — The Dry Fly is a Scout

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #45 — The Dry Fly is a Scout

The fly is an explorer tied to the end of a string. It bounds along with the current, making discoveries and telegraphing its collected information back through a line. Whether nymph, streamer, wet or dry, our fly is an investigator sent forward to probe the water and search for trout — and to collect more information than our eyes can see.

Standing riverside, pinching the hook of a caddis dry fly between forefinger and thumb, with slack line and a rod poised to send our fly on a mission, we scan the water for signs. We look for rising trout and likely holding lies. And we look for  much more than is easily visible. The currents of a rocky, rolling river are a converging and confusing mix. And what we may decipher through polarized lenses is a mere scratch of the surface. So we send a pioneer.

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