Articles in the Category Dry Fly Fishing

The Hard Truth About Why You Can’t See Your Dry Fly

“Your first job is to find some accuracy. You’ll see the fly every time, once you can hit your targets.” I nodded at the fly again. “There’s enough visibility built into that fly that you can find it quickly, as long as the fly lands where you’re looking . . .”

The Hop Mend (with VIDEO)

We mend to prevent tension on the dry fly or the indicator. All flies could drift drag free in the current if not for tension from the attached leader. So it’s our job to eliminate or at least limit that tension on the tippet and to the fly.

This Hop Mend is an arch. It’s a steep and quick half-oval. It’s a fast motion up, over and down with the fly rod. It’s powerful and swift, but not overdone . . .

Podcast: Hatches and Strategies — S3 Ep3

One of the greatest attractions to fly fishing can also present one of the biggest barriers. It’s the bugs.

Understanding everything we can about these bugs and how trout respond to them is a big piece of the puzzle that we’re trying to solve out there. And sometimes, it’s the keystone. Because at certain times, the bug life of a river is the central player in a trout’s daily life . . .

Casting Forehand and Backhand (with VIDEO)

Fly casting differs from spin casing in a few key ways, and here’s one one of them: You need both a forehand and a backhand cast to achieve effective presentations. Trying to fit a forehand cast on the backhand side is a bad habit that causes problems and limits what is possible on the water. While there’s plenty of room for personal style in fly fishing, this is not one of those places.

As you can see in the video, there are multiple reasons for developing both the forehand and backhand casting stroke. Being equally comfortable with both sides opens the doors to every angle necessary on the river . . .

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 . . .

Fly Fishing Tip — Limit the line in and on the water

Fly Fishing Tip — 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. You can throw a nymph under a dry and start casting, 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. How we rig the fly and nymph matter . . . a lot.

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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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One Great Fly Casting Tip

One Great Fly Casting Tip

I guess I take casting with a fly rod for granted. It’s not that I’m some fantastic caster or I don’t have my struggles, but in truth, I can usually put the fly where I want it. And after all these years watching good and bad casting from other anglers, I believe the difference comes down to one key element — speed.

My own education happened naturally. Over a period of years, fishing day in and day out, I developed a casting technique and style that works for me. But it took time, and not everyone has that luxury. Inevitably, the anglers I meet who struggle to cast a fly, whether working with a dry line, tight line nymphing, whether casting wets or streamers, it comes down to one thing. They aren’t aggressive enough.

The fly rod needs an angler who will take control and be bossy. Good casting requires acceleration between 10:00 and 2:00, with hard, deliberate stops at those points. That’s what I mean by aggressive. The cast should be crisp. It must stop between two positions, and it must stop with purpose. The casting stroke should never be lazy, and it should not be cautious. Otherwise, fly placement and accuracy falls apart.

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #36 — Dry flies and flotation — Building in some buoyancy and preserving it

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #36 — Dry flies and flotation — Building in some buoyancy and preserving it

Buoyancy is all about trapped air. It’s what keeps an eight-hundred foot cargo carrier afloat at sea, and it’s what floats a #24 Trico Spinner. With just enough trapped air to overcome the weight of the hook and material, the fly floats on the surface and resist being pulled underneath and drowned. It’s simple.

Regarding this buoyancy, we must consider two things: the materials of a fly (what actually traps and holds the air), and a way to preserve the material’s ability to hold air (waterproofing).

Let’s tackle both . . .

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