Re: Dry fly question
The short answer to your question is sometimes fish like their meals to be alive and kicking, rather than dead. Note that I say 'sometimes.' It is important to learn how to achieve a good drift, as most of the time that's how to catch fish with dries. But sometimes making your dry do something is better.
This is a lesson I learned early in my fly fishing career purely by accident. I had been fishing yellow stims in a creek on a dead drift with no results. I could see several fish in the pool but all ignored my fly for nearly an hour.
Once, instead of just picking my fly up (I was only about 20-25 ft. away), I stripped it back. The fly dove about an inch or so under the surface on the first strip, and immediately a fish turned towards it. It finned closer on the second strip, and on the third, it burst forth and tried to swallow my stim.
I released the fish and after things quieted down in the pool I targeted another couple of fish and tried the strip tactic again. Bagged another trout. I ended up catching four trout out of that pool before the rest decided to vanish, all on the strip.
My personal theory is that I triggered a 'predatory response' from those trout. They just had to attack a bug that was so obviously trying to escape.
Since then, if I can see the fish and they won't hit a dead drifted fly (4 or 5 casts), I ALWAYS impart some action to my fly for a few casts before changing it. I either allow it to drag (couple casts), skate it (another couple casts), then strip it, pretty much in that order. You'd be surprised how many fish need their meal to do something besides drift.
Note: all fish in the above story were released unharmed back into the pool from whence they came. All fishing done in the aforementioned tale were caught on single hook flies with the barbs mashed down as is legal in that creek. Though they would probably have been quite tasty with bacon. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn." ~Chuck Clark