Are You New To Fishing With a Dry Fly?

Ard

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I was replying to a PM asking what I thought about the design of Tenkara flies and my reply got a little off track. In the end it seemed as if it might be helpful to more than just the fellow asking the question so it is going to be a thread. Keep in mind this all started asking about what might make a fly look more tempting to a trout and morphed from there.

[I used to make some flies (tying) that had that concave hackle thing going on. They were the result of crowding the eye on smaller sizes. They looked funny, at first I thought to redo them but on second thought I kept and used them. My thinking was that since the hackle & wings tilted forward these flies might be better suited for when they reach the end of the drift and hang in the current before I picked them up to re-cast. Most dry flies end up with the hackles & wings being tilted / swept toward the rear because of both the hydrodynamics and aerodynamics they encounter as we use them. In other words when I would haul in a fly to apply dry coat floatant I would have to stroke the fibers back into an upright posture. All that being said, I still preferred having the flies tied with the hackles and wings set perpendicular to the hook shank, they just seemed better that way.

One thing I definitely noticed was that a dry fly which floated properly, ie; upright high and dry, caught more stubborn fish than one smashed and sunken. That is not to say that there were not times when a smashed and battered fly did not at times catch fish but normally the high & dry did better. Through the years we saw dry fly float treatments change dramatically. When I first started it was accepted practice to simply rub some Mucilin from the tin in your pocket on the fly to assist in keeping it afloat. This worked but not in a perfect way. We then had a spat of liquid silicone treatments that were fast drying and gave great results for the first few floats after treatment but quickly lost the hydrophobic property that was making them work in the first place. Then came the dry powders known today as desiccant's. These are still out there and if you are not currently using one I would strongly recommend giving them a go. When I was first introduced to the powders it was at Hillie's. Bill soaked a fly thoroughly so that it sank like split shot, then he put that fly in his palm and poured on some of this magic powder. Next he used his index finger & thumb to assault the dry fly mashing and grinding it between his fingers like I would have never dreamed of doing to a fly. When he was done all the water had been squeezed from the saturated materials and those hackles and wings stood at attention as though the fly had just came out of a tying vise, it looked new save for a slight white tinged coloration. He dropped the fly on the glass countertop and carefully poured the remaining powder back into its container, then picked up the fly and blew on it hard removing I'd say about 80% of the residual in the materials. At that point he dropped the fly which was a perfectly proportioned Catskill style Light Cahill back into the container of water where it bobbed around like a cork. I was of course, sold, and took 3 containers of that magic with me and headed home. I'm thinking that was somewhere in the mid 1980's and by the time 2002 rolled around I was using a 2 step process to float a fly to the most discerning trout on the spring creeks and freestone streams of Pennsylvania.

My 2 step float was done by carrying both SHIMAZAKI dry fly powder and a tiny bottle of Frogs Fanny for finishing the job. I used the SHIMAZAKI for the squeeze and mash process and followed by using the tiny brush and ultra fine pulverized Frogs Fanny to stroke things back into shape. The combination of the two seemed perfect. The Frogs Fanny was too wimpy to handle a totally slimed fly after landing a fish. This was when I had to treat flies, after removing them from a trout. And when they were floating correct I had to remove a fly from a trout pretty often so there was considerable time spent readying my little Blue Quill for another cast, it did however pay off in spades because I caught way more trout than people who were not taking time to do the 2 step.

This following statement is going to be made with a very important caveat. That condition is that you have not waded recklessly into a stream and followed that by making casts all over the place with no idea of where the fish (all or most of the fish) are at. If you do this your success rate is going to be in the very low percentile. I did a lot of looking and a lot of thinking before wading in. It wasn't always this way and I had no one to holler at me to warn me against what I was doing. I spooked more than my share fo fish and shut down plenty of pools and runs because I was in 'a hurry'. It also was very helpful that I fished the same streams for so many years that I became very familiar with the dos & don'ts of each special place. I could go on with warnings about careless approach but will get on with what I was about to say......

Other than a properly tied fly that floated correctly the single most important thing involved in my dry fly fishing was the leader. I've used everything from level 6 pound Gladding when I knew no better to exquisite hand tied carefully micro metered and measured types, I ended up using DiRikki Velvet knotless leaders and carrying 2 spools of tippet so I could repair them if needed. Because I changed flies very infrequently a leader lasted a long time. Don't worry, I'm about to make my point about leaders. What ever type you use I believe the utmost importance is that the leader have absolutely No curls in it, I mean Zero! I would take as long as needed gently pulling that mono fiber between my fingers to produce heat via friction until it hung like a pool queue, perfectly straight so that it would turn over and lie on that water so I couldn't see a trace of it. That in combination with knowing I was not laying line or leader over the fish was one of the most important factors in continued success trip after trip. When you paired the fly - its high floating characteristic - and the arrow strait leader you were on the way to fooling the fish. The final step was to avoid making casts and floats just because you were there. I think we get it in our heads that because we went fishing we have to cast as much as possible or the day is lost. I found that making only the casts that were smart yielded many more caught trout than to aimlessly flog the stream alerting every fish of my presence regardless whether they were feeding or not. Limit false casting; that line sailing through the air and directly over a wary trout is not your friend. I won't digress into a 'how to false cat' paragraph but will simply say, think about this and find a way to present the fly without sailing it directly over the feeding or resting trout.]

I don't know how helpful this will be to the readers but I got on a roll while writing a PM and now it's going to be a thread :) I'm quite sure there may be some tidbit of information in all this that may help some of you who are new to all of this.

Ard
 

old timer

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Good info, and i'd like to add. I'm petty much a dry fly purist, so I have a bit of experience fishing dries.

I gave up on tying my own leaders years ago. To much time is spent getting them straight, and they never seemed straight even after I got them straight. Switching to furled leader cured the problem, and I would use anything else now.

Buying Frog's Fanny is wasting money. I can buy the same exact powder by the pound for $12. If you fish a lot of dries it's the only way to go. I forgot how many bottles are in a pound, but it's a lot. I use a funnel, and spoon to fill the bottle every night. Buy one bottle of Frogs fanny to get the bottle with brush, and then just keep filling it up.

Don't get too hung up on matching the hatch perfect. One year I fished nothing by the Adams fly in sizes 10-20. I caught almost as many fish that year as I do carrying a vestful of fly boxes. However, presentation is always important. I feel more important than the perfect fly.
 

Ard

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Hi,

You should tell them where to buy the powder....... I only ever used a couple containers of the stuff in all the time fishing with it but some might use more or spill it.

Ard
 

Rip Tide

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You should tell them where to buy the powder....... I only ever used a couple containers of the stuff in all the time fishing with it but some might use more or spill it.
You can buy buckets of desiccant at any craft store
It's used for drying flowers
 

repperson29

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You can buy buckets of desiccant at any craft store
It's used for drying flowers

I'll add to that eBay is a great place for it to buy in bulk just search for bulk fumed silica and you can buy it by the quart etc...


Ryan
 

lurker66

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Yes I'm kinda new to drys and fly fishing. I enjoyed reading your post.
For me, one thing I like to see is pictures and names of the flys. Especially some of the local patterns.

I also enjoy hearing tips on what works vs what's marketing.

Anyways, thanks for taking time to write the OP. I learned a little.
 
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mcnerney

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old timer

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That's more than I paid, but I bought a couple of pounds 5 years ago, and i'm still using it.

Even at that price it's a big saving. I believe a bottle of Frogs Fanny is $5-$6. A pound of powder is something like 50 bottles.
 

silver creek

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My 2 step float was done by carrying both SHIMAZAKI dry fly powder and a tiny bottle of Frogs Fanny for finishing the job. I used the SHIMAZAKI for the squeeze and mash process and followed by using the tiny brush and ultra fine pulverized Frogs Fanny to stroke things back into shape. The combination of the two seemed perfect.]/b] The Frogs Fanny was too wimpy to handle a totally slimed fly after landing a fish. This was when I had to treat flies, after removing them from a trout. And when they were floating correct I had to remove a fly from a trout pretty often so there was considerable time spent readying my little Blue Quill for another cast, it did however pay off in spades because I caught way more trout than people who were not taking time to do the 2 step.


Ard


Hi Ard,

The reason that Shimazaki Dry Shake worked better on the waterlogged flies is that it is a combination product of a desiccant and a hydrophobic powder. The desiccant absorbs the water and the hydrophobic powder coats it. The reason that Frog’s Fanny worked better after the Shimazaki Dry Shake is that Frog’s Fanny is only the hydrophobic powder.

Since hydrophobic compounds repel water, you can easily understand that if you were to apply only a hydrophobic powder (Frog’s Fanny) onto a water logged fly, it would be repelled by the water on the fly. The better the powder was at repelling water, the dryer the fly has to be for the powder to coat it.

The desiccant and the hydrophobic powder in Shimazaki Dry Shake have a similar appearance. One is a white crystal and the other is a white powder. The powder looks like a tinier version of the crystal. So it easy to think that Shimazaki Dry shake is only a powder floatant

The desiccant in Shimazaki is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silica_gel]Silica gel[/url] which is a solid desiccant that absorbs water. It is commonly packed with electronic equipment to keep it dry.

The floatant powder is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fumed_silica]Fumed silica[/url] (microscopic amorphous crystals of silicon dioxide). Micro silica is hydrophilic so it is treated with siloxane or silicon oil to make it markedly hydrophobic. These treated powders will float a bead-head fly because their chemical bonds actively repel water.

I described the chemistry of water and how floatants work in the post below:

Fly Floatants for Noobies or What Floats Your Fly

I also posted how you can make your own Shimazaki Dry Shake and Frog’s Fanny along with a DIY container in the post below:

Little tricks to share - Page 28

You can buy Silica Gel desiccant in bulk as a flower drying agent that is used to make dried flowers.

To buy larger quantities of the hydrophobic floatant powder, go to Epoxyproducts.com web site to get to the ordering page for hydrophobic fumed silica. It is cheaper than Ebay. However their web site is a mess so I have posted the ordering line below.

After you get the powder, put it in a clean ketchup bottle with a funnel and you can then squeeze it out to refill you bottle of Frogs Fanny, Shimazaki Dry Shake, and Loon outdoors Top Ride

To order hydrophobic fumed silica:

EpoxyUSA - Solvent free epoxy and two part resins for home, garage, marine, boat, and office.
 
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ia_trouter

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This thread did catch me off guard a but. I have fished with Craigthor a number of times and he is a Tenkara nut. I reformed him very briefly but it didn't last :) The flies were reverse hackled as you describe, but they were definitely not dry flies. He used only one generic pattern most of the time and it was consistent. I still throw them on my Western gear now and then. I met another Tenkara guy yesterday and he had a box of similar flies. Every one of them wet flies. I am wondering what is "normal Tenkara" right now. In any event, I will always keep a few in my box because they have days where they outperform traditional flies by a good margin.
 

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I dug up my old receipt. It turns out I bought it from the link posted by silvercreek. I bought it in 08, so it was more than 5 years ago. The price did go up. It's $15.00 now for two quarts. I paid $9.00. Not too bad for 6 years.

I might as well order a couple of quarts. I'm almost out.

One thing that always bothered me was the powder leaves a white color to the flies. No matter how much you blow on them. It didn't seem to keep the trout from taking the fly, but it always bothered me anyway.


warning...Be careful with it. Don't breath it, or get it in your eyes. It will come with safety instructions.
 

Nosesupflyfishing

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Ard,

Thanks for the great info. Have you found a way to overcome that "slight white tinged coloration". Many of the spring creeks I fish hold spooky trout that have a clear vision and long time to examine the fly. Usually they prefer duller colors, and each time I've used powder desiccants, my fly ends up with a brighter color than I would like. Any tips on reducing/eliminating that brightness?

Thanks!
 

Ard

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I honestly never had that problem, I used a 2 step treatment and got rather good at doing it quickly to a drowned fly. The first step was a granular product called Shakzimie I think that's spelled right, then a quick brush off with Frogs Fanny which was a very fine pulverized powder that seemed almost liquefied.

Few grains of the course stuff in the palm of left hand - smash fly into powder until beads of water visibly came out of the materials - then a blow from the lips - then a quick brushing with the little brush from the frogs fanny bottle. Another gust of air from the lips and a couple false casts and they floated like cork. Perhaps they were a bit lighter in tinting from the powder but I remember a lot of instant striks soon as I put the high floating fly back on a feeding lane. I guess you have to decide whether you believe the treatment is a good thing or not but that's how I rolled for years.

Before those dry treatments arrived I used Mucline paste like many others and can say the dry stuff was better at keeping flies afloat.
 

hcrum87hc

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Ard,

Thanks for the great info. Have you found a way to overcome that "slight white tinged coloration". Many of the spring creeks I fish hold spooky trout that have a clear vision and long time to examine the fly. Usually they prefer duller colors, and each time I've used powder desiccants, my fly ends up with a brighter color than I would like. Any tips on reducing/eliminating that brightness?

Thanks!
I typically use the Loon Top Ride, which also leaves the white tinge on my flies, and I also never have had any issues with strikes after using it. Like Ard, I have had strikes on the very first cast numerous times. Of course, this is on pretty high gradient streams without a lot of time for the trout to observe the fly.
 

silver creek

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I typically use the Loon Top Ride, which also leaves the white tinge on my flies, and I also never have had any issues with strikes after using it. Like Ard, I have had strikes on the very first cast numerous times. Of course, this is on pretty high gradient streams without a lot of time for the trout to observe the fly.

Top Ride is a "shake & bake" product. You will find two materials in it. The larger crystals are silica gel desiccant which absorbs water to dry the fly. The white powder is the hydrophobic fumed silica.

You can renew the silica gel by reading the links I posted earlier and then refill with the fumed silica that I described in the links.

I also have not had any problems with the white powder. Shimazaki Dry Shake, which is the same material as Top Ride, comes in a grey color. However, you cannot buy the grey fumed silica in bulk.

 
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