I also love the dry fly style, I love being surrounded by rising brookies on a nice hatch and picking flies by trial and error until you find that perfect fly that gets a rise on every cast.
Or when you see that one monster sea run brookie who is the only one of his group taking dries, so you pick a big, juicy looking stimulator or caddis and lightly present it to him, he rises, makes that ever so anticipated gulp and takes the bait, then you remember that your tiny tippet is no match for said 3 pound fish, and then as the fish turns so does your gut and you know he's off, you then recite all the swear words momma told you never to say.
that is dry fly fishing for me lol
and although I occasionally fish nymphs and streamers, I continue to love the art that is fly fishing with a dry!
but damn do I get frustrated tying tiny dries! Id tie 30 smelt patterns before a size 20 parachute adams lol
I think we all know the feeling you have described. I have managed one really big fish on a light tippet but I was fishing in a run / pool with all sort of room and had plenty backing. Somehow the hook stayed in place (#14 Gray Fox) and I caught the fish. It was the biggest brown trout I had ever had to grab a dry fly but not all stories have perfect endings. I was fishing with Ray Davies and Ray always had a tiny Olympus pocket camera with him. This was back in the day before digital but Ray had one of those early Stylus models. That day Rays camera was about 3 miles away in his car.
We were fishing a big creek that had an abandoned railway running along it and had used Mountain Bikes to get up the creek far from the pressured waters near easy access. No picture of the biggest fish on a dry..............that's the way it goes I guess, been there, did it, but only Ray knows what happened. That's fishing, at least it's been fishing for me. There have been other big fish but every one ended with a broken leader, this was the exception. We were able to use Ray's old Edward's Quad Bamboo to measure the fish because the rod had intermediate wraps up the butt section. When we got back to camp that night we tried to be as honest as two guys without a picture (fishermen at that) could be when we measured the rod wraps. The verdict was that I had caught a brown trout almost exactly 2 foot long and possibly 6 pounds because it seemed healthy but not overly fat. This is one reason I like this forum, by writing on threads here memories are pried loose that otherwise may not be told.
I think those "ah hah" moments you have fishing dries as a noobie are really cool. I'm still having them.
I was sitting in my tube one evening, catching little rainbows trolling and casting a bugger and the bite just shut off. Gone. These little rings started to appear and it occurred to me that it could be an interesting development. Well, I tied on a coachman, because that was the only dry I could name and the bite was ON for about 45 minutes.
The "ah hah" moment came when I was waiting impatienty for the next hit. Without thinking about it, I pulled the bug about 6 inches across the surface and got a hit immediately. woo hoo! Who woulda thought that skating that bug might make something happen?
If it weren't for little creeks and dry flies and brookies, then sitting in my tube would be my fav place for casting dries.
Some of my fondest memories this year were with dries, two of the best involved fish no more than a few inches! One was this little rainbow who catapulted himself out of the air just as I lifted my dry fly off of the air and hammered the fly, I nearly wet myself from the hilarity of seeing this tiny fish launching himself through the air and catching it, it truly amazed me.
Another is similar and I felt quite bad for the little fella, but at the end of my drift I lifted my rod quickly to avoid the line getting caught in the reeds, but at that moment a poor little brookie hit the fly and came flying back and hit me right in the face, I felt so bad for this little guy who had just been yanked out of the water and fly 15 feet! I honestly don't think the poor guy lived as he left my face fairly red from the impact! It was funny enough though to bring tears to me and my buddies eyes.
This style is at the heart of why i like to fly fish. Better people than i have put it into words so i wont attempt to. I will just relay two experiences from this year...
Most recently at Goose lake in WA, i was fishing with a cousin. We were the only ones fly fishing. The worm and bobber set and the gear casters were doing very well. The fish in this well stocked lake were just not keying on bugs for some reason. I suppose i would have had more luck with a nice nymph of some kind but just didnt feel like it. I saw a nice brown trout and cast to within two feet of it. He saw my caddis and then proceeded to stalk it, deciding if he was going to have a bite to eat. We froze and i filled with anticipation waiting to see what would happen... Fish on! That one fish made the whole day a success to me.
This past August i went down to the Donner und Blitzen river in far SE Oregon. Armed with some tied down caddis recommended by the local fly shop in Burns, i hit the river. A beautiful place i had been wanting to visit for years. As i worked my way up river catching a number of fish everything just clicked well. I was looking at a run or spot near a rock and telling myself a fish was there, cast and watch that fish race up and take my fly.
It was perfect. Everything i wanted fly fishing to be.
That's what I had in mind, I wrote it on another thread; how participating on this forum brings memories right to the top of the mind. Unless we share a recollection either in print or words they have a way of eluding the consciousness and nearly slip away.
well, I would not call myself a purist. Usually I use dry flies to suspend nymphs, and I am horrible at matching a hatch. But I do try to tie some cool and useful patterns, and occasionally they take a nice fish.
I became obsessed with spiders as an indicator dry last summer. My front range local best is a 19" bow taken on one of these spiders. Great under trees or bridges or anywhere there are a ton of cobwebs...
'Canyon hopper', parachute adams, and foam drake (turns out these wings get soaked making it a cripple). Big browns will rise for the hopper!
working on some comparadun patterns and spun deerhair, also I am starting to tie with CDC.
For all my ranting about variety in this sport, I too have the same grounding/passion in the "art of the dry".
Although I fish a dry for the green drake hatch, or hoppers, etc..in Jan. I rejoin the (near religious) sub-sect, of this art form, known as "Midge fishing".
I don't recommend this to anyone, and that may be one measure of purity.
Something so hard, you have to consider the sanity of it. Only a pure nut would do it.
Thirty-eight degree water, below freezing air temp. Feet so cold, they aren't there anymore...
Very low, gin clear water. Using the smallest flies, making a most accurate/discreet cast, with, the cliche, spider web tippet..
To the most unforgiving fish I've personally met. Everything has to go perfectly or it doesn't work. Hence..purity.
The predominant bug is the midge, that's about all. BWOs if a cloud passes. (Maybe some little winter stones, but that's another story.)
So this is all driven by the menu. Matching the hatch.
Giving them what they want to see, where, and when they should. The essence of our sport to me, no matter which style of fishing you choose.
So I sat and watched a riser one day in the spirit of continuing education.
In about 40 min. he didn't eat a "single" midge, but many orgiastic clumps of midges..
Others knew this before me, but what a cool thing to discover for yourself. Mike's Aha moment.
It led me to tying a Single (1) clump midge and stalking a single fish.
If I broke him off, I was done. As long as I didn't lose that dry, I could fish... but only if I found a riser, and fished it.
All while crawling in snow, wearing a white sheet, and hoping no-one sees me (human or fish).
We each decide over time what is pure to us about this sport. Biggest fish on the smallest fly, or smallest fish on the biggest fly, whatever....
Just wanted you guys/girls to know I'm with you in spirit....just not ALL the time.
Mike, I am searching for a white hat, just not a pointy one...(Why doesn't Simms make a white windstopper...?)
Not only 12' leader (Sometimes longer starting with a 12' 6x and adding 2'+ of 7x and maybe a foot of 8x..), but as you know, I also band my lines with a marker.
This all adds up to a feeling akin to my time in high school track.
Trying to clear a bar, set higher than I was tall. It's a stretch....