I have been trying my luck with dries the past three times I went out. I am cheating and going to the local small lake and catching bluegill (although I did catch one stocked trout and almost got pummeled by a couple knuckleheads who didn't like me tossing it back in).
Of course, the one that worked the best was a foam thing I made. Just a small piece of white foam with a couple twists of hackle near the eye. I tried an F Fly and, tonight, something called an M Fly I found on the Internet. It looks like an F Fly with an extra little piece of duck butt (can't remember the name of those feathers) and a piece of chenille for a short tail thingy (which I used a piece of ostrich feather) all on a size 18 hook.
****, they're small.
Anywho, I get out to the lake the first day and I have only about 20-30 minutes. I set my son up with a spinning rod and finally get my fly rod and reel together. I caught about 4-5 nice bluegill in those 20-30 minutes...well, less, because my son wanted to try the fly rod and he caught one. I had oodles of nibbles, a bunch of takes, and, like I said, I landed 4-5...more if I weren't using barbless hooks with the little foam fly.
The next Saturday morning, I caught that trout and about 14 bluegill on the little foam fly and the F Fly. That was great.
Tonight I used that little M Fly for the first time and also the little foam fly. I caught about 8 or 9 nice bluegill (I never knew they were as pretty as they are). I had I can't tell you how many little nibbles and I hooked and lost so many fish it was driving me nuts. I need to learn how to set a hook right using a fly line and those teeny, tiny hooks.
But all three times, after a while, the fly would start sinking. I would try to dry it off on my shirt and that did not work. I tried shaking it in that Loon stuff and that worked for a cast or two but then they started sinking again. I took of and put on a bunch of flies during these times.
It seemed to be a lot worse after I caught a fish. It seemed like the spit and slime really tortured the flies. Even the little foam things started to be completely under water. Not far beneath, mind you, just not floating on top.
Am I at least approaching this right? Am I supposed to be swapping out a lot of flies whenever I fish dries? Or am I I doing something really wrong?
Oh, and I have been trying to false cast, especially tonight because I had a lot of room and nobody around. This works sorta but not all the way.
Any advice to keep these things floating is appreciated--especially after you catch a fish on one.
Oh, and if anybody has any tips on hooking a fish and keeping the darn thing hooked using small, barbless hooks, that would be great.
One thing I have noticed using dries: it is neat watching that fish get attracted to the fly when it lands or when it sees it. It stalks and then, POW! It hits the fly. Some pows are little slurps, I swear. Slurp-n-spit-out seemed to be the name of the game tonight.
“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” –Henry David Thoreau
“Time flies like an arrow but fruit flies like a banana.” –Groucho Marx
I got this stuff called bug float. It's like a wax or something that you put on your fingers and rub it onto the fly. It makes it float much longer. After a lot of fish I just apply more. If you just Google fly floatant you should see what I mean.
I am using Tiemco Dry magic and treat my dry with that before it first gets wet. This stuff isn't cheap but it works well on any dry I've used it on, including CDC. Once I get some fish on it or if it starts to sink, I recondition it with some sort of shake n float. Right now I have Orvis Hy-Flote Shake n Flote because that's what the fly shop had on hand. I'm not quite as picky with this stuff as I am getting the Dry Magic. That stuff is the bomb.
When tying hair bugs and the like, I dab up the heads, and sometimes the bodies with Kiwi "wet proof". They float like a cork so trim a very tight subtle "V" on the bottom. DO NOT get it on the soft stuff you want to get wet and move in the water.
Makes a mess out of dries though, even heavily thinned
1. If you catch fish on the fly it will get waterlogged being under the water (in the fish's mouth). So while the shake stuff will help it probably won't get all the water out of the fly so expect to use it frequently.
2. Pre-treat the flies - Enolaeagle suggested doing it at home which is great, you can also do it on the water with a gel type stuff that's probably sold near the shake powder. If your fly has CDC (your duck butt feather) on it don't use the gel on the feather, but you can rub it into dubbing, the chenille tail, etc.
3. I've found some cheaper hackled dries don't float as well. Not sure if they use a poorer (cheaper) hackle to begin with or if they use less turns or what but if you buy flies it is something to watch out for.
4. I found an 'm-fly' online and it doesn't look like a real long floater. Not saying it isn't a good fly. If I found the right fly, the chenille tail will probably absorb water, the hackle isn't stiff, and while CDC can float it wouldn't overcome soggy chenille. Might be worth getting more foam beetles and spiders or some heavily hackled flies like parachute adams or wullf style if they fish will take them.
5. Also, if your fly drags (moving water it is more of an issue but on still water you might drag it when making the next cast) it can get soggy.
Probably more info than you wanted but those are my thoughts based on what you wrote!
For most situations, there are patterns that will do the job and also float well.
Before my dry fly ever touches the water, I always put some floatant on finger and work it into the fly really well. Not too much floatant though or it can actually cause the fly to sink. Right now I'm partial to Fly Sauce, though I have used Loon Aquel and Gink. I do a couple false casts before I set the fly down on the water for the first time.
I'm cheap (read penniless) so I haven't bought a shake and float type powder or desiccant to use when the flies get water logged. You can make something similar by using the little silica gel packets that come with some products and a film canister. This works especially well with foam flies and also works with all but the smaller standard style dry flies. I reapply floatant after drying the fly out with this.
You can take your dry shirt and squeeze foam flies between it to get the water out before reapplying floatant as well. This works better with slightly larger foam flies though.
Thee short answer to your question is: you don't. Dry flies are going to absorb water and eventually the sink. especially after landing a few fish. For myself, after three or four fish, I cut the fly off, hang it on my fly patch to dry, and tie on a new one.
You've already got some good info on floatants you can try, so I'll just add the brand I use: Loon. I like Loon because it resists temperature extremes better than Gink. However, I have buddies that like Gink, and I haven't much experience with it. Except that I know in hot weather the stuff gets a bit runny.
In the end, all floatants work pretty well the same as far as I can tell. However, after a few fish, you need to do some 'maintenance,' to get the fly riding high again.
First, you need to dry the fly. This can be accomplished a number of ways: I keep a micro-fiber hand towel in my pocket, when I remember to bring it. I just drop the fly into a fold in the towel and gently squeeze out the excess water. Micro-fiber gets a lot more water out of the fly than cotton, faster. second, reapply floatant and third, get back to fishing. You can repeat this a couple times, but after a while, the fly just won't want to float. Then it's time to retire it to the fly patch for drying before it goes back in the box.
Another method is to use dry shake. This is flakes of dessicant in a small jar that you drop the fly in and shake it to absorb the water. This works a bit better than the towel and a lot better than false casting/using your fishing shirt. You can either buy dry shake or one of its competitors, or you can make your own.
However, before going to all the trouble of drying the fly and re-dressing it, you may want to see if the fly works 'as is.' Fish often will still take your dry fly even if it's sunk a couple inches below the surface. And most of the time you'll still see the swirl of the take. Sometimes they prefer the fly sunk (especially if there's some chop on the water). In fact, there are several 'drowned' fly patterns out there, such as drowned hoppers.
"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
If your foam get waterlogged and you put a paste or gel type on it, you will have failure. Do that before the fly hits the water. I carry paste, gel and powder. I might add, for you guys who use the powder, I found a website thay sells the powder like frogs fanny for way less. I bought some and it will last for years. I'll post the link if I can find it. www.epoxyproducts.com. Scroll down, the internal link is there