Originally Posted by shotgunfly
I hit a spring creek yesterday and I'm not much of a dry fly guy (yet). But I tried a few and noticed some odd trout behavior.
I tied on a light cahill. I didn't see any hatches but there were some rises to light colored insects (coulda just been plant matter) on the water.
The trout ignored the fly. Baitfish would hit and sink it. The trout would start to follow the fly as I reeled it in or it began to drag heavily in the water and then as it would pop up out of the water. Some would travel a good distance to follow the fly.
I gave up thinking the trout saw me at the last minute and turned off.
At the end of the trip I was at a different location, did the same thing. As I was reeling the fly in a dang trout came over and hit it. I caught him!
This whole event just flew in the face of what I believed was paramount to dry fly fishing—a dead drift fly, no drag is needed to take trout.
Just wondering if this behavior means:
(1) I should be fishing a different pattern, maybe swinging wets (which I haven't done)?
(2) Were the flies looking for emergers?
Should I just throw out the book on dry fly dead drifting lessons?
Don't throw out the book just yet.
Your conclusion contains several assumptions.
The first is that the fish that were rising were feeding selectively and not opportunistically, and therfore should not have taken a dragging fly. For fish to feed selectively, there must be enough insects hatching regularly and for a long enough time for selectivity to develop.
You say. "there were some rises;" but you don't say what kind; and you don't say that the hatch was heavy or had been going on regularly. Hence my previous question about rise analysis. If the fish were sporadically rising; that is, random rises rather than a specific fish rising in the same place frequently, you cannot say that there was a selective pattern of rise activity.
Your second assumption is that what ever feeding activity you saw was common to the entire population of fish. That is a very common misconception, since it is natural to assume that the behavior we observe is occurring universally. However that is not the case.
There is population variance. By that I mean individuals in populations behave differently even under the same circumstances; and they certainly do in different circumstances. Even if the rising fish you observed were feeding selectively, that does not mean other fish in the same location (micro environment), and certainly in a different micro environment would be feeding identically.
So the fish you caught has several possible explanations. The first is that the rising fish were not selective; and therefore, no dry fly fishing "rules" were broken by that fish taking your fly. The second explanation is that the fish you caught was not one of the surface risers but a fish that was feeding opportunistically and saw your fly as another feeding "opportunity."
Certainly the fish you caught could have been feeding on emergers or on any other available object it thought could be food.
"fly fishing hatch breaker strategy"
on Google. It is a strategy for fishing a difficult selective hatch by targeting those fish that are still feeding opportunistically.