Articles With the Tag . . . dry flies

What’s the Deal With Hare’s Ear?

Last night, I slumped back in my chair and away from the tying desk. It’s lit like an operating room. With three hi-wattage beams shining on one very small object from left, right and center, my eyes don’t miss much. Combine that with 2X-power readers and some steady hands, and I can turn out well crafted flies as small as you like. I have no trouble inserting details into a fly, but I’ve never approached fly tying with that kind of goal anyway.

Like most good fly tyers who are better fishermen, I learned long ago that realism in a fly is one thing to a trout and another thing to a fisherman. So I scrapped that bias and whittled my patterns down to the elements that I believe attract fish. My guiding theory on fly design is that trout are looking for a reason not to eat my fly. So I limit materials only to what’s necessary. Nothing more.

Hare’s Ear is one of those materials. Here’s why . . .

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 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 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...

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...

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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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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Is your new fly really new? What makes a fly original?

Is your new fly really new? What makes a fly original?

When is a fly original enough to deserve its own name? And do a few material changes result in a new fly, or is it the bastardization of an existing pattern?

“That’s just a Woolly Bugger with flashy chenille, bigger hackle, rubber legs, and dumbell eyes. Oh, and it’s two of them hooked together.” That’s the first comment I heard about Russ Madden’s Circus Peanut. And to that I say, sure it is. But aren’t there enough material and form changes there to be a unique fly? When we think Woolly Bugger does it really look anything like a Circus Peanut? No, not really. So I’d say the Circus Peanut deserved a name, and it got one.

I have a similar fly stored in my own meat locker. I call it a Water Muppet, but it’s mostly a Circus Peanut. I tie it smaller, dub the body instead of wrapping chenille, and I use a tungsten bead instead of dumbbell eyes. And while I have my own name for the pattern that amuses me, it’s pretty much a Peanut.

But I think there’s a genuine desire on the part of many fly tyers to get this right. We want to give credit for inspiration, and we know that all good ideas stem from somewhere. At the same time, we’re proud of the material or form changes we’ve made that catch more fish in our own rivers. And sometimes those innovations define a genuinely new fly pattern, so they deserve a unique name . . . . .

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Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #42 — Work into the Prime Spots

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #42 — Work into the Prime Spots

The trout were on. They started with nymphs, but as soon as the emerging tan caddis popped to the surface, a green summer morning turned into something special.

Steve was the first to switch to dry flies. Around 9:30 a.m. I leapfrogged his position again and stopped to visit for a moment. Steve spoke as I approached.

“Man, these are the days you dream about,” he said while casting.

Standing in the creek, not far off the bank, he glanced over his left shoulder in my direction, judging the length of his fly line against the back casting space I’d left him. And I continued wading closer to my friend in the ankle-deep water.

“You switched to dries?” I used the statement as a question . . .

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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

Hatch season is just around the corner. On some rivers we’ve already experienced good fishing over eager trout rising to delicate Blue Winged Olives. And somewhere in the distance, a chorus grows louder — the Grannoms are coming, the Grannoms are coming.

Oh sure, there are midge fishing opportunities around here all winter long. (I know a local guy who travels in shorts and picks his spots from the banks with no-see-um dry flies all winter long). But for most of us, the winter season is a subsurface fishing affair — we bottom bounce nymphs and strip streamers for eligible trout. And after four months of all that, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t get excited about a good dry fly opportunity. In fact, show me a legit chance to fish dries for active fish, and I’ll take it any day of the year.

And now, on the precipice of all the major hatches, right before mayflies, caddis, midges and stones start bumping into each other, we prepare at our vises. We tie flies, and we dream. We pack our gear and envision the surface slash, the gulp, the dimple and the ring of the rise. So it helps to consider for a moment — what keeps a dry fly floating on the surface in the first place?

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