Which Fly?

silver creek

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If they're on BWOs, you probably need 6X~

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The OP misidentified some other mayfly as a BWO. Maybe it was a late hatching Ephemerella genus (possibly a Hendrickson) which used to contain the baetis family. The OP wrote, "I was told to go with BWO #14 and I did." E. Subvaria Hendricksons are about a size 14 and can be dark colored.

Male Hendrickson:



Female Hendrickson:




The naturals that were being called BWO's were really not Baetis, which "rarely larger than size 16 and often smaller than size 20."

Male Baetis



Female Baetis



 

upstreamcast

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I have something to add.

The tippet has to be matched to the size of the fly. In an earlier post you said you were fishing a size 14 BWO, "I was told to go with BWO #14 and I did."

If you fished that with a size 4X tippet, I think that is too thick. I think you should be using the "Rule of Three" to determine the tippet size for the size of fly you are fishing. Divide the fly size by 3 to get the tippet size. For a size 14 fly, 14/3 is 4.667 so you go up to a 5X tippet.

Modify your fly leader to meet changing conditions - Fly Fis

”the tippet is the thinnest, most vulnerable part of the system, and you adjust your tippet according to the size of fly that you want to use. The guideline for sizing tippet to fly is the Rule of 4. I use a size 12 fly to demonstrate this rule. If you take a size 12 fly, and divide it by 4, you get 3, so for a size 12 fly, use a 3X tippet. If you choose a size 16 fly, then divide by 4, and get 4X tippet. This works for all sizes of flies and helps get the most accurate casting and turnover of the fly.

Some people use the Rule of 3. Using this rule, for a size 18 fly you would use 6X tippet. If you use the Rule of 3 you may be handicapping your casting and fly turnover, but you’ll have a lighter, thinner tippet for better slack-line presentations and dead-drifts.


The second issue is how long a tippet to use. I am going to assume you were using a 9 ft rod. For a 9 ft rod, most fly fishers use a leader about the same length as the rod, hence, more 9 ft leaders sold than any other length.

Most commercial leaders are built on the 60% butt - 20% transition - 20% tippet formula. You can use this 60/20/20 formula to decide when to add new tippet to a worn leader. Using this "rule" a 9 ft leader for a 9 ft rod would have a 22" tippet. Use it to calculate the probable length of the tippet for your leader.

Realize that commercial leaders have to work for beginners as well as experts, but experts can cast a longer tippet section with accuracy. So I recommend that as beginners become better casters, they lengthen the tippet. Using the 20% tippet rule for a 9 ft leader, I tell beginners to start with a 22" rule of 4 tippet, then as they get better, lengthen it to a 26" and then a 30" rule of 4 tippet. Then switch to a rule of 3 tippet and gradually lengthen that to 30". As they become better casters, the tippet gets longer, then thinner and longer.

Everything starts with the fly we need to cast. Fly selection determines leader and tippet size; and also determines the increasing weight of fly rods that are needed to cast that fly as fly size increases. This is actually no different than spin fishing in which the weight and size of the lure determines the line, rod and reel that are used to fish that lure.

If you cannot see well enough to tie tippets smaller than 5x, buy some magnifiers for you hat or carry a set of magnifying reading glasses for tying on flies.

I may be wrong but I suspect that your tippet was both too thick and too short. That is a set up for refusals.

I learned that lesson long ago the hard way.

I was fishing to some rising cutthroats on the Yellowstone river back in the 1980's. They were feeding on size chocolate 16 spinners - I was sure of it. I was fishing downstream to them using a downstream parachute mend. I had on 5X tippet matched to the size 16 chocolate spinner using the "Rule of 3" which I explain later in my post. I got refusal after refusal.

The next day, I was in Blue Ribbon Flies talking to John Juracek, one of the owners and co author of "Fly Patterns of Yellowstone" with Craig Mathews, the other co-author and co-owner of Blue Ribbon Flies.

I told him about my frustration with the prior evening's fishing. He asked me where I was fishing and it turned out he was several hundred feet downstream of me. He asked me what pattern and what set up I was using. He was also using a size 16 chocolate spinner BUT he had it tied to a size 6X tippet. He told me that the fish refused the fly on a 5X tippet.

I have never forgotten this lesson. If you are confident that you have the right fly and the fish refuse, first lengthen the tippet. If they continue to refuse, go down a tippet size and lengthen that tippet if necessary to fool the fish!
I would suggest that the Rule of 4....Divide by 4 and add one. 12x divided by 4 = 3 +1 = 4X. 3X tippet is way too large a diameter for a size 12 fly.
 

silver creek

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I would suggest that the Rule of 4....Divide by 4 and add one. 12x divided by 4 = 3 +1 = 4X. 3X tippet is way too large a diameter for a size 12 fly.
Perhaps you did not read my entire post because I don't understand your post. I covered both the rule of 3 and the rule of 4. My rule of 3 results in a 4X tippet for a size 12 fly. 12/3 = 4X

I quoted those rules from this Fly Fisherman Magazine Article:

https://www.flyfisherman.com/editorial/modify-your-fly-leader/151707

If you read further down my post that you quoted, I wrote:

"If you fished that with a size 4X tippet, I think that is too thick. I think you should be using the "Rule of Three" to determine the tippet size for the size of fly you are fishing. Divide the fly size by 3 to get the tippet size. For a size 14 fly, 14/3 is 4.667 so you go up to a 5X tippet."

So for a size 12 fly, that would be 12/3 = 4X tippet, the same as what you got with "Divide by 4 and add one. 12x divided by 4 = 3 +1 = 4X."

Then I quoted this article from Fly Fisherman Magazine"

"Modify your fly leader to meet changing conditions - Fly Fis

Some people use the Rule of 3. Using this rule, for a size 18 fly you would use 6X tippet. If you use the Rule of 3 you may be handicapping your casting and fly turnover, but you’ll have a lighter, thinner tippet for better slack-line presentations and dead-drifts.

Then I added this:

"The second issue is how long a tippet to use. I am going to assume you were using a 9 ft rod. For a 9 ft rod, most fly fishers use a leader about the same length as the rod, hence, more 9 ft leaders sold than any other length.

Most commercial leaders are built on the 60% butt - 20% transition - 20% tippet formula. You can use this 60/20/20 formula to decide when to add new tippet to a worn leader. Using this "rule" a 9 ft leader for a 9 ft rod would have a 22" tippet. Use it to calculate the probable length of the tippet for your leader.

Realize that commercial leaders have to work for beginners as well as experts, but experts can cast a longer tippet section with accuracy. So I recommend that as beginners become better casters, they lengthen the tippet. Using the 20% tippet rule for a 9 ft leader, I tell beginners to start with a 22" rule of 4 tippet, then as they get better, lengthen it to a 26" and then a 30" rule of 4 tippet. Then switch to a rule of 3 tippet and gradually lengthen that to 30". As they become better casters, the tippet gets longer, then thinner and longer.

Everything starts with the fly we need to cast. Fly selection determines leader and tippet size; and also determines the increasing weight of fly rods that are needed to cast that fly as fly size increases. This is actually no different than spin fishing in which the weight and size of the lure determines the line, rod and reel that are used to fish that lure."


I also explained in my earlier post on this thread that in some conditions as when I was fishing in Yellowstone Park, especially selective and wary trout require even thinner and longer tippets than the generic rule of 3 suggests. These "rules" are "situational" and dependent on the how the fish react to the presentation.

Sometimes one does not even need to change the tippet. You just have to get into a different casting position that allows for longer drag free drift. The Parachute Mend/Cast that is recommended by Earnest Shweibert, Andre Puyans and Rene Harrop for the Fall River and the Henry's Fork is one example. See the 9th post in this thread.

 
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old timer

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The fly itself matters somewhat too. A bushy #12 compared to a sparse #12 could take a different size tippet. How much wind matters too.

I don't use a formula to pick tippet size. I look at the fly and situation and then choose.
 

labradorguy

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I’m just going to throw this out.....

It’s been my experience that people who say they cannot see their dry fly on the water are usually missing it because they’re looking in the wrong place. That’s a casting skill thing. Spend two or three evenings a week in the backyard practicing and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to see your fly on the water. Don’t just blindly cast... throw a target out on the grass and work on hitting it. Then make the target the spot where the fish is rising and learn to drop the fly on either side of it just like you would if you were fishing. It will help. I guarantee it.
 

upstreamcast

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Perhaps you did not read my entire post because I don't understand your post. I covered both the rule of 3 and the rule of 4. My rule of 3 results in a 4X tippet for a size 12 fly. 12/3 = 4X

I quoted those rules from this Fly Fisherman Magazine Article:

https://www.flyfisherman.com/editorial/modify-your-fly-leader/151707

If you read further down my post that you quoted, I wrote:

"If you fished that with a size 4X tippet, I think that is too thick. I think you should be using the "Rule of Three" to determine the tippet size for the size of fly you are fishing. Divide the fly size by 3 to get the tippet size. For a size 14 fly, 14/3 is 4.667 so you go up to a 5X tippet."

So for a size 12 fly, that would be 12/3 = 4X tippet, the same as what you got with "Divide by 4 and add one. 12x divided by 4 = 3 +1 = 4X."

Then I quoted this article from Fly Fisherman Magazine"

"Modify your fly leader to meet changing conditions - Fly Fis

Some people use the Rule of 3. Using this rule, for a size 18 fly you would use 6X tippet. If you use the Rule of 3 you may be handicapping your casting and fly turnover, but you’ll have a lighter, thinner tippet for better slack-line presentations and dead-drifts.

Then I added this:

"The second issue is how long a tippet to use. I am going to assume you were using a 9 ft rod. For a 9 ft rod, most fly fishers use a leader about the same length as the rod, hence, more 9 ft leaders sold than any other length.

Most commercial leaders are built on the 60% butt - 20% transition - 20% tippet formula. You can use this 60/20/20 formula to decide when to add new tippet to a worn leader. Using this "rule" a 9 ft leader for a 9 ft rod would have a 22" tippet. Use it to calculate the probable length of the tippet for your leader.

Realize that commercial leaders have to work for beginners as well as experts, but experts can cast a longer tippet section with accuracy. So I recommend that as beginners become better casters, they lengthen the tippet. Using the 20% tippet rule for a 9 ft leader, I tell beginners to start with a 22" rule of 4 tippet, then as they get better, lengthen it to a 26" and then a 30" rule of 4 tippet. Then switch to a rule of 3 tippet and gradually lengthen that to 30". As they become better casters, the tippet gets longer, then thinner and longer.

Everything starts with the fly we need to cast. Fly selection determines leader and tippet size; and also determines the increasing weight of fly rods that are needed to cast that fly as fly size increases. This is actually no different than spin fishing in which the weight and size of the lure determines the line, rod and reel that are used to fish that lure."


I also explained in my earlier post on this thread that in some conditions as when I was fishing in Yellowstone Park, especially selective and wary trout require even thinner and longer tippets than the generic rule of 3 suggests. These "rules" are "situational" and dependent on the how the fish react to the presentation.

Sometimes one does not even need to change the tippet. You just have to get into a different casting position that allows for longer drag free drift. The Parachute Mend/Cast that is recommended by Earnest Shweibert, Andre Puyans and Rene Harrop for the Fall River and the Henry's Fork is one example. See the 9th post in this thread.

I was just saying that you can use the rule of 3 or rule of 4 for determining/suggesting a tippet size for a particular fly. I have always taught the rule of 4 as diving by 4 and adding one for tippet size. Not just diving by 4. Say size 20 dry. Divided by 3 would = 6x (rounded down). Divided by 4 would = 5 + 1 = 6x. Tippet size can/should be adjusted up or down for best results. Just my humble two cents. No foul intended.
 

labradorguy

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I’m not much for rules..... There are just way too many variables. A size 14 quill body is going to cast a lot different than a size 14 EHC, especially when the wind is up. Like the man says, just fish the lightest tippet you can get away with. Make sure you’re not Ginking it all up too. That be bad.
I was just saying that you can use the rule of 3 or rule of 4 for determining/suggesting a tippet size for a particular fly. I have always taught the rule of 4 as diving by 4 and adding one for tippet size. Not just diving by 4. Say size 20 dry. Divided by 3 would = 6x (rounded down). Divided by 4 would = 5 + 1 = 6x. Tippet size can/should be adjusted up or down for best results. Just my humble two cents. No foul intended.
 

silver creek

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My posts are in response to the Original Poster, the "OP" who wrote this series of posts:

I was in PA today, Brodhead Creek and the fish were rising but every dry fly thrown ended in no bites.

We could see BWO and we thought March Browns. We tried everything with no luck.

I am going back tomorrow morning and seeking some help with a dry fly.

Was still a nice day and sunny but it would have been better to see a splash and a fish.

Much Appreciated!

------

There were large splashes around us, two of us tried it all. We did not see constant risers. Two other fishermen using bait were struggling as well.

Was a bit frustrating today (not that much for me) but my friend was pissed. We could see a brown/tan looking fly (large) hover in the air which the birds were eating. I did match my dry with the flies floating on the water. I was told to go with BWO #14 and I did. Also was told brown winged... and I tried it.

------

My drift was fine.... and I know what you mean there. I need to look thru my flies for smaller sizes and do some research.

Anything else?

--------

I was fishing from 8am to 3pm. Most action risers around 9 to 11am. Going back from 8am to 11am tomorrow.

--------

I did the reading and met a nice guy in the river today. He eventually told me, the water was too turbulent in the spot I was in. There are three large boulders in the spot where the fish hang out. The current swirls a lot. My only chance was to land the fly on the right spot with a soft landing. I did not do it.

Appreciate all of the help.
If you read my posts in the context of what that OP wrote, you will find that one of the possible causes of the OP's failure was that the OP was using too thick or too short a tippet, and that was the reason for the refusals.

So the "rules" are a starting place when a beginner is wondering what tippet and how long a tippet to use. When replying to posts like the one the OP made, I try to put myself in the same place I was over 35 years ago when wondering what fly, leader, tippet to use. Fly fishing is not an intuitive sport.

If you have fly fished for years and years, your experience tells you what length of leader and what tippet size to use. However, try to think back when you just started. Did you know THEN what you know NOW about leaders and tippets?

One has to start somewhere, and a few beginners "rules" like trying to match the size, shape, color and behavior of the natural help. So do rules like the "rule of 4" and "the rule of 3" for tippet size. That is why articles like the one I quoted below in Fly Fisherman Magazine exist.

 
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dipaoro

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I’m just going to throw this out.....

It’s been my experience that people who say they cannot see their dry fly on the water are usually missing it because they’re looking in the wrong place. That’s a casting skill thing. Spend two or three evenings a week in the backyard practicing and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to see your fly on the water. Don’t just blindly cast... throw a target out on the grass and work on hitting it. Then make the target the spot where the fish is rising and learn to drop the fly on either side of it just like you would if you were fishing. It will help. I guarantee it.
I am only a few years into fly fishing and there is so much to learn. Much like with golfing way back when, my short game was terrible. This all changed when I spent every night in the yard practicing. I became deadly within 50 yards. So, I like this idea and can easily go outside every day and practice. What distance would be best to measure out?
 

Nosesupflyfishing

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“Anything smaller and it will be impossible for me to see it.

I’ll first say that I’ve been blessed with fairly good vision, BUT, I often still have trouble seeing my fly on the water. I typically fish small, shallow, gin clear spring creeks for wild trout, and have found that often times the fish will ignore anything larger than a size 20. Therefore, I often have on size 20-24. One “trick” I’ve learned is to use a “dry-dry” dropper. Instead of attaching a subsurface fly to my dry, I’ll use a size16- 18 parachute and attach the size 20-24 dry fly to it. This allows me to watch the larger fly to evaluate my presentation and see any takes to the smaller fly. One drawback is that if the flies are too far apart, they can float in different currents from each other, which actually messes up the drift on both flies! I’ve found that 6-8 inches between flies is the sweet spot.
Hope this helps!
 

labradorguy

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The trick is to mix it up. Just like golf, if you practice all your approach shots at 50 yards, it never fails but the money shot will be from 20. If it were me, I wouldn’t go crazy with it and try to cast a whole line. Work on distances from 50-60’ right down to where you only have 4-5 feet of line out of the rod tip.

Hula hoops work great to start with. Try and drop your practice fly into it. When you get bored doing that, hang it vertically from a couple trees and practice throwing a loop through it. You would be amazed what a tight loop will do for a cast. A lot of people think they throw tight loops until they try this drill.... Look up a couple videos and learn to double haul too. In tougher conditions or at longer distances, being able to double haul is money.

Rules are great but don’t box yourself in. If you used the Rule of Four where I fish, you would quickly get discouraged and probably end up tying a bobber onto the end of a good fly line. Just use the lightest tippet you can get away with. You will know when you have pushed the envelope too far.

3x is for hoppers.
 
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old timer

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My main river is the Arkansas River. The fish aren't tippet shy and don't require small flies. They don't focus on one hatch and are willing to take what looks like food. The browns won't tolerate drag. It's a fast moving freestone river and takes some work to present dries with no drag. Sometimes the whole drift can only be drag free for a few feet. That small amount of drag free drift is where you put it where you think trout are holding.

I would welcome a spring creek that are slow moving. No matter how small the flies have to be.
 

silver creek

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I am only a few years into fly fishing and there is so much to learn. Much like with golfing way back when, my short game was terrible. This all changed when I spent every night in the yard practicing. I became deadly within 50 yards. So, I like this idea and can easily go outside every day and practice. What distance would be best to measure out?
Here's the real deal.

What you are asking about above is accuracy. Most beginners think that means a laser straight cast the lands the fly on the target. Unfortunately these types of casts result in immediate drag because there is no slack in the cast to account for conflicting currents.

What is important is casting accurately with slack placed where it is needed. Here's the difficult part of casting with slack vs casting a laser straight cast.

When you ADD slack, you must ADD LINE to the cast and PLACE that slack where it is needed. So the line that is cast MUST be longer than the distance of the target is away from you AND the extra length of line has to be place correctly.

Really there are TWO targets. One is where the fly lands and the other is where the slack line and or leader lands.

So practice the various slack line casts whether in is a wiggle cast, an in-the-air curve mend, a parachute cast, etc. These are "in-the-air" mends performed by moving the rod and or rod tip AFTER the hard stop of the actual fly cast.

The best example of placing an in-the-air mend is the "bucket" mend as in the video below where the slack is placed in a specific location along the cast. Note that the caster ADDS (SLIPS) line to account for the mend.

 

labradorguy

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I like the golf comparison. When a pro takes a new student out on the range for a lesson, he doesn’t hand them the driver and point to the 250 sign. Nine times out of ten he hands them the trusty old number seven. Practice hitting your target first. The prettiest slack line cast in the world isn’t going to do you any good if your fly lands 15 feet below the fat rainbow that you are trying to entice. Learn to hit your targets in tail winds, crosswinds, and headwinds. Get that down cold and then take the next step and move on to the curve casts, slack line casts, reach casts, sidearm casts, etc... in the meantime lengthening and lightening your leader will help you with your drift.

When you started golfing I bet you were really happy when you aimed at the green with your pitching wedge and the ball landed close enough to the pin that your next shot was with the putter. Then somewhere along the way you quit aiming for the green and started aiming for the pin or for a landing spot that would let the ball roll towards the pin, and then you probably learned to put backspin on it to make it stick when you wanted it to. This is the exact same deal. It’s a lifelong learning process. Just take it in steps and HAVE FUN!
 

old timer

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I used to be a golf pro. I did my best to get on the pro tour but a lack of money and few sponsors did me in. The golf swing and casting a fly rod have a few things in common. Like neither are natural and need to be taught if you want to do it right.
 

osseous

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Last year I had a private casting lesson with a golf pro. Easiest lesson I've ever taught- Guy related everything I shared with him to the golf stroke- that was how he could best internalize it.

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labradorguy

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Yes, it's similar. Tempo and timing. Patience and hand-eye coordination.
A well placed cast to a rising trout has the same feeling as crushing the ball off the tee and watching it sail right down the middle of a narrow fairway!
 
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