"When I die I want to come back as a Montana fly fishing guide" - Jane Fonda
Much of my instruction time is devoted to explaining and demonstrating dry fly strategy. There are those in this sport who have turned dry fly fishing into a form of rocket science which it shouldn't be. Let's examine the basics:
1. We either cast a dry fly to a rising fish or to a spot where we believe a trout may be. Let's concern ourselves with that rising trout.
2. It is a rare occasion where we see a steady parade of newly hatched mayfly duns floating down a river and being picked off by a trout. Most of the rises that we see are rises to the emerging insect that is in or just under the surface film. That is why comparaduns (my favorite dry fly pattern) and parachutes do so well. The body is in the surface film looking just like an emerging insect. That is why the two above tying styles have somewhat replaced the classic hackled dry fly. More on that later.
3. Always try to position yourself downstream from a rising fish or a place that you want to cast to when fishing a dry. Imagine a large clock surface and a trout steadily rising at the 12 o'clock position. You want to be below him at the 4 or 8 o'clock position. Why not 6 o'clock? Actually that's the worst place to be. Your leader or your line will land on top of him. At the 4 or 8 position only the tippet will be in play.
4. Fishing a dry downstream or down and across will limit your presentation window because of leader drag. Remember, drag occurs when the leader is traveling faster than the fly. You avoid this with an upstream cast but there are times when you have to fish at a downward angle. This is where you lengthen your leader with extra tippet length and throw a Check Cast above the rise. A Check Cast is nothing more than suddenly stopping, or "checking" your fly in mid cast so the fly falls to the surface amid some loose, uncoiled leader. Your leader needs to be pretty straightened out for drag to set in. This will avoid it.
5. Manage your line when fishing upstream with a dry. The line is floating back to you and you must constantly strip in this slack or hook set will be impossible.
6. Forget nonsense like "parallel drag" or "diagonal drag". Drag is Drag and the remedy is the same.
7. 90% of your dry fly fishing will be done with size 14 through size 20 flies which means you will be using 5x and 6x tippet. Don't believe that you need 7x on a size 14 or 16 dry unless you like leader twist.
8. Hackled dries still have a home in riffles and pocket water where they float well and are visible.
In 2009 I fished the EB from Memorial Day through September with nothing but dries and I caught a lot of trout. It is my favorite style of fishing followed closely by the swing of a soft hackle. Both styles represent a stage of insect life and I believe a higher stage of fly fishing. A Millers regular once described what we now call straight line nymphing as "bait fishing with artificial bait". To each his own.
2010 was the driest summer that I remember but I'm afraid that this summer will break all records. The long range forecast appears to be unchanged. Let's wait until September.