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Dry Fly Fishing Tips

Joined:
2008/11/19 20:57
From Hagerstown, MD
Posts: 590
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I thought this would be good place to post a small discussion on fishing Dry Flies. I am not a dry fly fishing expert by any stretch of the imagination, but over the last several years I have put together a brief list of observations that have helped me catch more trout on dries and bigger ones.

I will start by saying that regardless of your experience level, if you spend enough days on the water, you will experience a day where conditions are ideal and a hatch will have numerous trout looking upward. This usually happens on wild trout streams, but it can happen on stocked waters if the fish have acclimated to the point where they are eating nature's forage rather than man's. The question that all fly fisherman have to deal with in this situation is how to approach all of these willing trout.

My first suggestion is to use you powers of observation. Look at the insect activity and ask questions such as, am I looking at a mayfly hatch or a caddis hatch? Do I know what kind of bug is hatching and if not can I identify the color and size of the bug. All these are important questions and can lead to success or failure.

I would also suggest not to limit you observations to the insect activity itself, but also look at the trout. Determine where they are rising. A lot of times this is obvious, but do not be fooled by the numerous fish that appear in the center of a nice run or towards the tail out of a pool. These fish are usually very willing and most of the time are the easiest fish to catch, but I consider these fish to be a sort of alarm system for the biggest fish rising in a given area.

I have found that if you slow down and simply watch the entire area of stream that you are fishing, then often a larger fish will appear in some unlikely places. Often, these places are tucked right against the bank in very shallow water, or in an obscure back eddy that does not become apparent unless you are really looking for it. Regardless, if you have patience and use your observation skills, the bigger fish will present themselves.

Finally, I would say that identifying rise forms is very important in locating larger class fish and idenfying what a fish is actually feeding upon. As I learned at the Somerset fly fishing show, a fish is not actually taking surface flies unless a bubble materializes out of the rise form. Often a fish will appear to be taking dries because it is disturbing the water surface, but it is actually taking emergers just below the surface. I look for a nice head and tail rise when searching for larger trout. This is not an exact science because rise forms can be very decieving. A small rise form can often equal a large trout.

I hope that this provides some basic information on fishing a hatch and I invite the more experienced members of this board to add to this discussion.

Posted on: 2010/3/29 13:39


Re: Dry Fly Fishing Tips

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2007/1/2 11:55
From Bozeman
Posts: 19932
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Quote:

3wt7X wrote:

I have found that if you slow down and simply watch the entire area of stream that you are fishing, then often a larger fish will appear in some unlikely places. Often, these places are tucked right against the bank in very shallow water, or in an obscure back eddy that does not become apparent unless you are really looking for it. Regardless, if you have patience and use your observation skills, the bigger fish will present themselves.


Great stuff. I have caught some of my largest surface feeders within inches of the bank, often in 5 or 6 inches of water. Places like spring creek, valley creek, and penns creek are perfect places to fish the margins.

It makes casting more exciting, as well. Tossing casts up into the bushes is what makes dry fly fishing fun for me. They're too easy to cast, otherwise .

I will add that once you've seen a few rises in these areas, you'll know what kind of water to look for when using a dry during less active times. This is especially the case during terrestrials or stonefly emergences. Time spent studying large fish in the margins of the stream will teach you where to cast on days where they aren't actively rising.

I will also add that these fish are often much more stealthy about feeding. There have been times that I drifted under a few branches, just to see the fly disappear with a light "smack". I pulled tight, and it was a 15 inch fish. I would have never noticed him rising to BWO emergers, but I knew where to look for him from previous experience.

Posted on: 2010/3/29 13:59


Re: Dry Fly Fishing Tips

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2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
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I will also add that I disagree with being primarily wild trout streams. In my experience, stocked trout are rising more often than their wild counterparts. But its a more steady thing with stockers, they're rising more often, but they don't get as frenzied in a big hatch situation. Wild trout rising is more of a boom/bust thing, but of course you can somewhat predict the booms. I guess the way to explain it is that wild trout are more in tune with the natural cycles and respond accordingly, while stockers are generally opportunistic and not set on cycles. Just my experiences, your mileage may vary.

Of course, as was said, the longer a stocker is in the water, the more like a wild trout they become.

Good stuff either way.

Posted on: 2010/3/29 15:25


Re: Dry Fly Fishing Tips

Joined:
2006/9/21 0:02
From Pittsburgh
Posts: 4265
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A few other things I'd add to the good info already posted:

Splashy riseforms usually indicate a fish taking emergers.
I always look for the ones that are sipping quietly. They're eating the bugs on top. And, yes, the larger fish make the gentlest riseforms.

One big problem I've seen with beginners fishing dries, is having too much slack in the fly line - resulting in many missed strikes.
After I make a cast, I quickly pull in this slack line with my left hand, and then lower the rod tip. Then when the fish takes, I've got a good quick hookset.

When fishing small flies, I always try to stay below the fish. Then the fly is pulled back into it's mouth, resulting in more hookups.
However, there are times when a dowstream presention is the only way to go. In that case, you need to allow a slight pause before the hookset. This allows the fish to turn it's head downward, and increases hookups.

In my experience, dry flies need to float well and ride high on the waters surface. Flies that ride low, or are partially submerged, usually don't cut it.

Posted on: 2010/3/29 22:43


Re: Dry Fly Fishing Tips

Joined:
2010/3/10 23:03
From Morgantown WV
Posts: 45
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I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I have never dry fly fished. I'm going to give it a try this year for sure. Can't wait to get that first fish on a dry. I have always just used nymphs if the fish didn't want steak(flesh fly) and eggs. Good idea for a topic.

I'm going to assume that slower water is better for dries than fast water. Or are they both just as productive?

Would you fish deep water that is really clear with a dry if you didn't see any risers or would you be wasting your time?

I'm here to steal your knowledge:) Fishing PA waters is going to be a fun learning experience

Posted on: 2010/3/30 16:44


Re: Dry Fly Fishing Tips

Joined:
2007/1/2 11:55
From Bozeman
Posts: 19932
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I am definitely no dry fly enthusiast, but I fish them when effective. I'll add what I can...

Quote:

AKguy wrote:
I'm going to assume that slower water is better for dries than fast water. Or are they both just as productive?


It really depends what they are eating. Some bugs are found in slow water, and others in fast water. I would say that you will most commonly find rising fish in slow water, but it is certainly not a rule.

Often, fish rising in fast water are difficult to spot. They are also much easier to catch.

Quote:

AKguy wrote:
Would you fish deep water that is really clear with a dry if you didn't see any risers or would you be wasting your time?


I wouldn't, but you can do it, and you can catch fish. I tend to ignore deep, slow water. Using terrestrials like ants and beetles works very well in the summer when nothing is consistently rising. It's one of my go-to methods in lower summer flows.

Posted on: 2010/3/30 16:48


Re: Dry Fly Fishing Tips

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2009/8/19 17:22
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i think wild trout have smaller feeding lanes and move less for a bug , sometimes splashy rises mean that they are in fact taking drys - caddis is an example. comparaduns , parachutes in slower water and catskills in the faster water

Posted on: 2010/3/30 17:30


Re: Dry Fly Fishing Tips

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13416
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Quote:
I'm going to assume that slower water is better for dries than fast water.


I'll echo Jay's comments here. Fish more often rise in slow water (and also shallower water). When they do rise there, its also easier to pick them out, that ring on the water is unmistakable, even from a distance. But its a lot harder to catch them. When dry fly fishing gets fun is when there's enough bugs to get the fish in the fast water rising actively. When that happens, game on.

Posted on: 2010/3/31 8:46


Re: Dry Fly Fishing Tips

Joined:
2009/9/9 14:52
From Bel Air, MD
Posts: 703
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Great point. This August, on a local stocked stream in Maryland that does not support ANY wild trout, I was killing an evening fishing for sunfish and smallmouth. There was a fish making very splashy rises that was textbook sunfish taking flying ants. I happened to have a size 14 parachute adams on at the time and on the second cast a 14 inch rainbow that was stocked in March took it. It was a blast for a number of reasons...first, the take was very aggressive...second, when you expect a 6 inch sunfish and hook a 14 inch rainbow it's quite a surprise...and finally it shows that if those stockies find the right hole, they stick around for a while. This particular hole is one of the deepest on Deer Creek.

Quote:

3wt7X wrote:

I will start by saying that regardless of your experience level, if you spend enough days on the water, you will experience a day where conditions are ideal and a hatch will have numerous trout looking upward. This usually happens on wild trout streams, but it can happen on stocked waters if the fish have acclimated to the point where they are eating nature's forage rather than man's. The question that all fly fisherman have to deal with in this situation is how to approach all of these willing trout.

Posted on: 2010/3/31 13:42






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