Dry fly angling is at the top of any fly fisherman’s list of fun fishing. The visual dry fly catch continues to excite many anglers as the best way to angle the fly. Many anglers try to keep themselves busy with various fly tying techniques as well as nymphing techniques. We will discuss several of those techniques below, but for now we will start with dry fly techniques.
To watch the fly drift free, then the flash of a trout, followed by your fly rod bend - thid is what most of us are after. To experience it, fly fishermen will go to measures beyond most other fishermen. I would say that 30% of fly fishing angling time is spent fishing a dry fly. My favorite fly fishing memories have included big fish taken on a dry fly. Sure, dredging a nymph and hooking an old Brown or a huge River Rainbow is satisfying, but I’ll take a brookie on a dry fly, at any size, on any day.
When I go to a stream, new or old, I put on a nymph first. There are exceptions (fish rising everywhere to an obvious hatch) that make me poke around in my compartment box, but the indicator and nymph are my first choice. I can catch fish while I am observing what is going on in the stream. When I have things figured out, then I go to the dry fly. This is where I have the most fun.
Equipment is important! Try to use as long a fly rod as you can get away with. Some anglers use a 5'6" fly rod for dry fly fishing, but generally, a longer rod eight feet or longer is desirable. A medium action or faster is desirable to have the reaction and hook setting speed that dry fly angling sometimes takes.
It is also best to use large arbor reels. A large arbor keeps a fly line supple, without curls from a tight diameter storage. A fine drag system, or none at all, in important to protect the fine tippet from breaking when a fish runs. A fly rod must also balance. The reel weight must make the fly rod at the point where your index finger rests on the cork grip “balance. " That would be where the fly rod hangs level on the balance of your index finger on the cork. This makes the feel of the cast second nature. You will get to a level where casting becomes second nature, you will feel the fly trailing on your leader, the rod tip bending, and the fly line loop during your cast like you feel the tracking of your wheels on the highway while you are driving.
Understanding these important aspects of fly fishing is not difficult, it just takes some experience. You will soon get to a point where you understand each and every aspect of your equipment and fishing technique in focused detail. Especially if you continue to go after trout with a fly rod, particularly a dry fly rod. Just remember to balance your equipment. You will see the merit of that as you fish!
Fly line choices come into play when thinking about dry fly equipment. I like fly line colors in gray, green or white. Colors other than this are used to catch fishermen at the fly shop counter. At fly line weights less than 4-weights, double tapers or weight forwards, you will find you will have a very hard time telling the difference. A double taper will last twice as long because you can turn the fly line around when it is worn. But I seem to gravitate toward a weight forward. If you like to “shoot" casts, the weight forward seems to work better.
If you want, you can experiment with mini shooting heads and custom made lines for your dry fly fishing pursuits. Loop offers many different fly lines available for experimentation. Leaders are an important aspect of dry fly fishing. Many anglers like to use Rio leaders, which are very supple, yet the butt through midsection is stiff enough to make the leader straighten, or “turn over. " For small streams, a 9 foot leader in 6x is perfect. If you need to step down to 7x, a length of tippet can be added.
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