Although its true that most trout feed below the surface most of the time, my favorite kind of fly fishing is dry fly fishing. This is where you present an imitation of an adult insect that has reached maturity and is floating on the surface film of the water. The excitement I receive from seeing a large trout come from below and take the fly is how I got hooked onto fly fishing in the first place.
Most fly fishermen will have success catching trout, but at the expense of watching a strike indicator all day. If you’re like me, the sight of a rising trout will make your heart skip a beat. Know in advance that if you only fish dry flies, you will probably catch less fish than your friends that are nymph fishing. However, these 5 tips will greatly increase your productivity and help you catch more trout on dry flies.
1) Read the water: Often, beginners are guilty of walking right up to the water and casting. To be effective as a fly fisherman you will need to take the time to learn how trout live and feed. Subsequently, you will then understand where likely trout lies are in the water. When you approach the water look for places where fish can hold without expending much energy and where they have protection from predators. Now, hopefully you are wearing the requisite polarized glasses so you can learn to identify a holding trout under the water. Focus on those spots where they should be and wait for any shadows to move. Those moving shadows are feeding trout. the biggest clue to where a trout is holding is when they are feeding on the surface. Look for small ripples that accompany the small splash of a surface feeding trout. Now keep watching and you will see that trout come to the surface.
2) Use as long a leader as you can: When trout feed on the surface, they are obviously looking up to see their meals coming to them. Because of this, if your fly line is too close to your leader the trout will see it and will not take the fly. Make sure to have on as long a leader as you are comfortable fishing to prevent unnecessary spooking of the trout. Sometimes there is too much foliage to have a long leader. I try to have at least 9 feet of leader and more if possible. Longer leader is harder to manipulate, so practice, practice, practice.
3) Match the hatch: Take notice of the bugs flying around you. Give the bushes next to the water a little shake a get a good look at what flies off. It is good to know the color of the naturals around you, but it is imperative that you have the right size. The right color fly that is too large will leave you empty handed where as the fly that is close in color and is the right size will still be very effective.
4) Cast upstream: Stealth is on your side if you take this approach. As I’ve already mentioned, if a trout sees your fly line, it wont take your fly. That goes the same for you. If you step into it’s view you will have a very frustrating experience. Cast your dry fly upstream. Now, any trout that you may be trying to catch are facing away from you and should be in direct line with your fly that is now traveling downstream towards you and the fish on the current. As the fly makes its way back towards you strip in the loose line so that when trout takes the fly you can set the hook. Avoid casting directly upstream from where you are. This causes your fly to directly follow the fly line and will also make trout wary.
5) Limit false casting: Trout can be very shy and easily put down. The less false casting you do, the more opportunity you will have to catch trout. You should only be false casting to dry your fly. If you are false casting because you lack accuracy, then move closer and perform shorter casts. Move slowly to keep your stealth advantage. when you do false cast, try to change the direction of the cast so the line doesn’t fly over the water you are fishing. Practice your casting. Eventually, you should be able to pick up your line and cast it with accuracy the first time.
Put these tips to use and I know your dry fly fishing will improve. Now, go practice and catch some fish.
Paul Schackman is the Senior Editor for DS Fly Fishing http://www.dsflyfishing.com
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