Fly Fishing Basics

Dry Fly Fishing

Drie flies, Duck A'l'Orange, G&H Sedge and a Coachman

"One is well hidden beneath the trees fringing the pool, and a wood pigeon often passes overhead. The rod,therefore, is placed on a tripodand a loaded gun is held across the knees. When the fly is taken the gun is placed against the tree, the rod  picked up and the strike administered."

“Fish are caught this way, but certainty is only to be expected when a pigeon passes over just as the trout rises. The fisherman will then shoot the pigeon before going through the other motions"

(The Angler and The Trout by Huish Edye ("Distoffer"))

Dry fly fishing is probably the most romantacised form of angling and in my own opinion the most rewarding and ecxiting. When you think of chalk streams and highland brooks this branch of fly fishing springs immediately to the front of your mind.

The Dry fly sits either on or immediatly in the surface of the water dependant on the tying and represents the later stages of development of the insect.

So basically a dry fly fly will imitate one of these three stages (not a definitive statement,there will be exceptions) and will utilise many methods to maintain it's correct position on the water, from the traditional cock hackle wound at the thorax to closed cell foam or deer hair as an extended body.

Most of the other important types of dry fly are the land based insects like the Crane fly or the Hawthorn fly. When these insects are on the water at the right time of year and the right time of day, with the wind in the right direction....I'm sure you get the picture... the sport can be unbelievable.


Now what happens when you tie the dry fly onto your leader?

I use flourocarbon for dry fly fishing on still water and nylon on rivers, simply because I will use the same leader when switching between dry and wet flies and I am too lazy to change a full leader. Whatever leader you use it pays to degrease it with some form of sinkant. My choice has always been Leedasink this removes the shine from your leader and aids it sinking. You will only need to degrease 10-12 inches from the fly.

Treating your fly with floatant will mean it stays on the surface longer or in the right position in the surface. For traditional dries treat you can treat the whole fly or with an emerger take care to only treat the part of the fly that needs to remain on the water, normally the wing. (note: do not treat CDC as in the wing of an F-Fly, or Shuttlecock) The most widely known floatant is Gink

That's the easy bit dealt with now how to present the dry fly;

The main issue with fish not taking a dry isn't pattern choice or colour as you would expect (This is still important) but how the fly moves on the surface. The fly needs to act as natural as is possible so avoiding drag is of paramount importance. Drag is caused by the current in a river or the wind making the fly wake across the surface rather than go with the flow.

Control of drag is a matter of practice and experience, try casting from different angles, mending your line (flicking the end of your rod to change where the fly line sits on the water. On still water try casting into the wind and picking up line as it travels toward you, this is the same principle as casting up stream on a river and lifting your line off the water as the fly drifts toward you.

The most talked about issue in dry fly fishing is when to strike as the opening paragraphs of this article demonstrates;

The rule of thumb is to say "God save the Queen" between the fish taking the fly and you lifting the rod into the fish. This makes sense on a river as the fish usually commits to the take, if it delays the current will have taken it's meal downstream, so pausing until the fish turns down with the fly would be my advice also.

On a still water the fish usually has time to change it's mind or sample and reject the offering, so normally the strike needs to be speedy. Ther is a major problem with this statement, and that is that it is not always true and can depend on how the trout takes the fly.

My rule of thumb on a still water is; If the fly is sipped from the surface strike quickly and if the trout comes over the top of fly pause till it turns down then lift. If it is taking sedge you usually don't get an option they will grab and go.

All of the above may give your dry fly fishing a kick start but you can practice for years and not master this style of fishing, but doesn't that just make you want to have a go.

Tight Lines

Ian Akers (Naisreka)

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