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Old 05-28-2013, 01:32 PM
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Default Dry fly question

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?
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:35 PM
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Default Re: Dry fly question

Sounds like it would have been a good day to use a wake fly like a small bomber or something similar
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:42 PM
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Default Re: Dry fly question

Trout have pea brains.
They respond to things that they are conditioned to recognize
Even though you didn't see it, your fly was dragging. ( micro-drag)
That's not natural and so the trout didn't recognize it as food.
When your fly tried to "escape" the water surface, that looked natural and the trout's reaction was to grab it before it got away.
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:47 PM
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Default Re: Dry fly question

If the trout wont hit a drag free fly, and depending on the type of water you are fishing, I will tie on a caddis and skitter it across the service. Sometimes they are strange that way.

Craig
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Old 05-28-2013, 03:34 PM
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Default Re: Dry fly question

Quote:
Originally Posted by shotgunfly View Post

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.

I need to ask whether you are familiar with rise forms.

If so, from what you observed were the fish feeding on something on the surface film, in the surface film, or under the surface film.

Were the rises deliberate or hurried?

Once you know where and how the fish were feeding, you can better assess what fly to put on and how to fish it.
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Old 05-28-2013, 04:16 PM
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Default Re: Dry fly question

Skating caddis? Around here I periodically see caddis skating on the surface and fish respond to a fly that drags across the water. Not sure what was happening on your stream but this article is interesting.
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Old 05-28-2013, 05:58 PM
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Default Re: Dry fly question

Cardo,

I have several things to offer, or say. First off it must be the changing of the times that you are fly fishing but 'not much of a dry fly guy'. Please remember that I am a bit old school here but back in the day that's how you started; fishing dry flies. You did that because learning how to fish nymphs dead drift with no sort of indicator was very hard indeed. The use of streamers also took a lot of understanding of things you could not see on the surface and thus we fished the dry to learn casting and control. I don't want to start an indicator bashing argument here but I have always suspected that their use would lead people away from the true heart & soul of fly fishing which has always been the art of fishing the Dry. If that's what had led you astray then welcome to fly fishing. If not please excuse my remark entirely.

Silver creek has alluded to subsurface feeding being what you thought were rise forms. Over the years I have experienced the same circumstances that you describe. In all likelihood the fish you saw chasing the fly were smaller trout not old experienced giants. Small fish often behave in ways I could never begin to explain but the fact that they would pursue the fly suggests that they were eating an emerging aquatic insect and perhaps one that could swim pretty well. Such things as this are what keep it interesting.

If this happens again you might try what I had good success on the spring creeks of Pennsylvania with. Find or tie a Blue Quill in size 20. Fish these on 7X fluorocarbon leader and be sure to use the Orvis loop knot to attach the fly. The knot keeps you from busting that 7X tippet. I haven't run across many trout in a spring who will not take that little fly and I fished in quite a few.

If you work on your dry fishing you will gain a great deal of pleasure from it. Of all the ways I've fly fished it is the most relaxing, the most graceful form of the sport.

Ard
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Old 05-28-2013, 06:37 PM
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Default Re: Dry fly question

Quote:
Originally Posted by shotgunfly View Post
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.

Look up
Click to View Search Results for "fly fishing hatch breaker strategy" "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.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:39 PM
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Default 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.

Peace.

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.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:04 PM
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Default Re: Dry fly question

For the most part I've been fishing streamers. As far as dries go, mostly attractor patterns and have just recently got into nymph fishing (yes, using an indicator). I picked up Kelly Galloup's nymph video as well as sat through his presentation—I'm no where near ready to get into more complicated setups.

I guess when I got started (4 years ago) I took to the easiest fastest way to get fish on. I considered dry fly fishing the hardest methods mostly from what I've been told/heard. I fished top water for LM bass and figured top water for trout had to be harder since they were more selective.

My first trip to PA I was actually using salmon eggs on a fly rod. I vowed then to never use bait again and haven't since.

Anyway, fly fishing is going to be my lifelong hobby so I'm certain I'll get into dry fly fishing more. Given the responses there is much more to learn and practice.

I know at some point I'll get tired (not bored) of landing fish on the methods I'm currently using and will need more of challenge. I spent my first year TROUTLESS! The last 3 I've been ramping up my exploration and am just now starting to get way to comfortable with the local waters. I'm sure a long distance trip is in order but I at least want to have more methods/knowledge under my belt before heading off to unknown waters.

Thank you all for your responses.

Best,
Cardo
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