Compound Dry Fly Presetation
In response to a question by trweston, "... what the heck is a "compound presentation"?" I responded with the below anecdotal illustration which I am copy/pasting to this new thread for broader more focused discussion.
I will preface this though by asking of the majority of us trout fly fishers that enjoy fishing with a dry fly at least part of the time; regardless of rod action, length and line weight of your choice, can you cast your long and fine dry fly leader upon the water straight as an arrow? "Why would I want to do that, I want curves in my leader/tippet to aid in extending my fly's natural drift?" If you can not cast your 12 to 18' leader dead straight, if it lands with curls and curves, it is doing so of its own volition, not by your controlled articulation. Many line/leader combinations generate a designed-in collapse achieved by an interruption of energy flow. Typically this is the result of a line to leader butt connection that in not mass matched in diameter and/or the butt is too supple. For the angler to dial in intended shape and size amplitudes he must first and foremost be in command of his line leader assembly. An automated collapse or slack induced by abruptly stopping the rod tip high and shocking the leader backward are techniques with some merit but little to no precision, current matching control.
Rod brand or action preferences aside and assuming good casting stroke development, imagine, on this cold, blustery day, it is spring Mayfly time and Hendricksons are flush on the Delaware's West Branch or PMDs are happening on the Beaverhead or Silver Creek. We select from our quiver a rod length and line weight, likely a #4 or 5 ranging from 8' to 9' or somewhere in between, suited to our imagined habitat. Water is clear and cool and the currents flat with complex and subtle braided seams induced by subsurface aquatic vegetation and other structure.
There it is, a big head sipping with some regularity tight to a bank lie shielded by overhanging limbs and buffered by eddying currents. He bulges a lot but shows the white of his mouth too as some of the drift he eats are duns.
We have checked our leader while watching him from the opposite bank, our knots are sound and we've Trillened on a Thorax dun to our 5' of fresh tippet and dressed it with Mucilin Liquid Silicone. A cottonwood is casting a shadow upon the stream about 40' above and 15' off the bank above the riser. We walk upstream away from the bank and oh so carefully wade into positon less visible in the shadow of the big tree. Removing the fly from an upper snake guide we strip line from our reel and make a downstream cast about 5' off the bank, nowhere near the trout to get a sense of what the currents might do nearer to him. We don't anticipate he will slide out from his dominant lie but our second cast is a foot off the bank to confirm our casting strategy. Now it is prime time. We cheek our fly and blow on it, the knot is locked on the front of the eye and the split tail fibers are as they should be, no entagelmnet. We make two false casts away from the fish so as not to throw spray from our line then generate a nice tight, high line speed loop and with "live", under load line, sweep an upstream reach into our cast and while the line begins to straighten but while still in the air, bend three aerial, horizontal mends into the line/16' leader roughly corresponding to the slightly quicker currents off the big trout's softer water positon on the bank. These types of gravity defying aerial mends benefit from super quick and precise, undulation free tip recovery which is what, for me, differentiates and defines a technical dry fly rod. The cast's energy in now diminished and the articulated line alights upon the water. Immediately with the slack we have already stripped off our reel, we dump a slack upstream "L" mend to further cushion our presentation which looks good, the fly having alighted some 3' above the fish. But something is not exactly right, there is a curl of tippet in front of our imitation. This won't do so, employing our precise responding rod tip and the surface tension of the flows, we make a slight lift and pull the fly upstream an inch or two eliminating the errant bit of tippet and, as we lower our rod, we dial another handful of slack upstream to counter an amplitude we shortened with the fly attitude correction. The short, flush floating hackle legs of our fly ever so slightly brush a matt of weed congested against the bank below which is our big boy and as it enters his feeding lane he tips and sips. We sweep our rod horizontal to the water and outward away from his bank positon and, as we tighten to him, we allow line to controllably slip through our line hand's thumb and forefinger, a "slip-strike". Feeling the metal he bolts from his positon into a deeper mid stream trough and leaps free of his watery world, flashing spray into the sunlight which reflects brilliantly from his dark spotted deep and buttery flanks. He is bigger than we thought now that we see him in the air. He runs hard downstream peeling line from our little Nautilus and jumps again. What a fish, I'm already planning how and where I'm going to photograph him. He stops momentarily and I gain some line back onto the reel as he heads for the bank again while I wade toward the shallower side, my rod bent against his direction of swim. But uh oh, through my polarized lenses I now see a submerged deadfall over there. I put some extra pressure on him with both rod angle and the palming rim of the reel but its too late. Into the submerged mess he dives and is gone. Good news, he didn't bust me, the fly pulled free and no knots failed.
Oh well, but there is more good news here; I know exactly where he lives and come evening, with lower light and hopefully a spinner fall from this mornings hatch, perhaps I can present to him again. With advanced intelligence perhaps I can steer him away from that damned deadfall.