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Fly Fishing Flies

The dry fly is designed to float on the surface of the water. To prevent it sinking, water repellent hackles are wound around the hook to distribute the weight over the surface of the water. The hackles also simulate the legs and splash of an aquatic or terrestrial insect trapped on the water surface. Most Dry flies are deceivers designed to imitate a specific natural fly like the crane fly, ant and hopper series of flies. Other flies like the Adams are more general designs that are just intended to produce an edible looking fly.

Dry fly fishing has always been regarded as the supreme art in fly fishing circles. Accurate presentation of the fly can be essential. Trout will rise to a variety of natural flies but as far as the dry fly fisherman is concerned the mayfly hatch has to be the favored time. In almost all instances where trout feed on drowning insects the rule is not to move the fly. An imitation is far more likely to succeed if it is cast out and then left. So long as it is cast in the right spot.

The color of the fly is always important when matching the hatch, then size is the next important decision. The artificial fly does not have to be a precise imitation of the natural insect, but what is important is how and where it is presented in relation to the depth of water. This includes the height at which the fly floats above the surface of the water. Some fish will greedily take flies that are floating in the surface but ignore flies that are floating above it and visa versa depending on the conditions that day. Use your eyes to see which natural insects the fish are taking. A high-floating dry fly will have more chance of being taken on a bright day because of its visibility, but if it does not dent the surface film on a dull day it will be less effective. A fly floating in the surface on a sunless day leaves a much more visible halo of outlining light which surrounds it.

Always try and get the leader immediately in front of the fly to sink under the water as this makes it harder for the fish to spot. This can make the difference between a blank day or one with lots of action. When putting on floatant make sure you keep it off the leader. This is a common mistake that can affect your fish catching chances. Degrease the front 10 inches. Do not try and fish this pattern downstream as it will drown. Fish it upstream and look in front of you for where the fish are rising for the natural insect. Be observant. If the trout start to dine on spent spinners rather then duns consider changing fly patterns.

Nymphs represent insects in their under water aquatic life stage. This stage comes before the adult stage where the insects emerge out of the water and fly away, normally to mate and lay eggs (dry fly). Technically the term 'Nymph' means the juvenile stage of a Mayfly but it is commonly used to refer to any insect in it's aquatic life stage. Nymphs are, perhaps one of the most deadliest ways of taking most species of freshwater fish. In a river or stream, they can be fished anywhere from just beneath the surface to imitate emerging or drowned flies to right to the bottom to imitate the unhatched larvae. These flies weigh a little more than a dry fly, and weight is often added to them in order for them to achieve the proper depth. This additional weight makes them a little harder to cast but the good news is that there is almost no wind resistance. Generally fish nymph flies along the bottom, move them slowly and smoothly. Every now and then dart the fly forward as if it is attacking its prey or trying to escape from the advances of a predatory large fish. Such movements hopefully may induce a following trout to take your fly.

All fly fishing men and women dream of being on the water during a hatch or a spinner fall and watching our fly being gently sipped under the surface of the water by a large trout. This is one of the most exciting times in our sport but what about the other 90% of the time when there is not and action on the surface? The fish are still feeding. Yes you can keep casting away at likely spots with dry flies but you would have more success if you placed your fly where the fish were feeding and that is under water. 

If the water is not clear and you cannot see your target fish you will have to read the water to try and find out the best place to cast your fly. Large areas of the river will hold no trout at all. Trout are usually solitary feeders and can normally be found next to something solid like a big boulder, patch of weeds, or the river bank. They lie up in stretches of the river where there is a high concentration of food. Look for creases on the water surface. These are lines that normally run downstream. They are caused by bodies of water, flowing at different rates, colliding. Trout food is concentrated in and around these creases. Food is carried by the current and concentrated where the current is funneled in the fast water of runs, riffles, creases plus the heads and tails of pools. 

There is often slack water by the river bank and fast flowing water a few inches away. This is why a lot of trout can be found near the bank. Boulders and weedbeds cause the water to speed up to as they get past them. A crease is formed between the fast and slow water that traps floating aquatic insects in the eddies.  Fish the crease and providing the trout are feeding you will catch fish. Fish like to conserve energy and hold in slower moving slack water on the edge of faster water. This enables the food to come to them and they are close enough to nip out into the faster water to intercept their target food as it drifts past. Look for seams of foaming turbulent water as it pass over submerged boulders. Even though there is a current of fast moving water on the surface there is a pocket of slower water beneath it and some of these pockets will hold fish.

If the nymph does not drift naturally the trout will refuse it. Try to keep as much of the line off the water as possible and follow the end of the line as it travels down stream with my rod tip. Set the hook at any tightening or unnatural movement or flutter of the strike indicator. Some of these will be the snagging of the nymph on the bottom but a number will be fish. If you find you are not getting any takes change the nymph to a smaller size. If it is clear water choose natural colored patterns and longer leaders with lighter tippets. If the water is dirty or colored use a more brighter colored and large pattern to help the trout see what is being offered to them.

Over 100 years ago past masters like G.E.M Skues fished his nymph imitations close to the bank. " I am always amazed at how many fly fishermen overlook the large trout lurking close to the bank. I call them 'Bankers'." Just choose a small weighted nymph like this one. It will cut through the surface film and sink to the bottom. Approach your selected spot from down stream without spooking the fish. Caste upstream and drift your fly to a trout feeding in one of these near to the bank spots. Watch the trout strike the fly.

A wet fly is designed to be fished below the water's surface. They are tied as deceivers or attractors. Many flies are tied slim with wing and hackle tied back to reduce water resistance. Trout do see subsurface insects with wings. Some flies begin to hatch below the water surface. The Baetis group of up-winged flies swim or crawl beneath the surface as adult spinners in order to lay egg. There are occasions when duns and spent spinners are swamped by the current and forced under the water surface. Emerging duns that have been unable to get rid of their nymphal case or at the time of emerging are drowned when they float under rough water that is flowing over a large rock or ledge are also hunted by the fish. The trout on purpose lurk in slack water near eddies and small plunge pools to look out for these type of snacks. Clearly a trout does see winged insects under the surface at certain times of the year so be prepared with a selection of different colored wet flies for when the fish are not taking from the surface.

The success of the wet fly often depends far more on its action in the water than on its resemblance to a particular insect, but this is not always the case. When fish are on the feed the actual pattern is generally not important, but when the fish are preoccupied or need tempting the angler must use ingenuity to discover what the fish are feeding on and what color they are taking. When fishing wet flies, it is important to remember that the higher the wave on the water the higher the fly hook size can be, but still take into account the brightness and clarity of the water.

I like to fish wet flies in the rain. If you are one of those fine weather fishermen you are missing a lot of sport. On sunny days the fish swim near the bottom of the river, lake or stream for a number of reasons. They do not have eye lids and the sun can damage the eyes. More importantly the warmer the water becomes the less oxygen it can hold. Fish find warm water uncomfortable. When it rains the disturbance caused on the water surface increases the oxygen content of the upper levels of water. As the water droplets force their way through the water surface air gets trapped behind it.  If it is raining it normally means the sky is overcast and therefore the temperature of the water decreases and the amount of oxygen the water can hold increases. Heavy rain will knock airborne and surface insects down and into the water. More fish than normal rise from their bottom feeding location to the surface to feed from this bounty of drowned insects. This is ideal for fishing the sub surface wet fly. Further advantages of fishing in heavy rain is that perfect fly presentation is less important. A fish who is stimulated by the abundance of drowned insect food, whilst on the look out for predators, will not have time to consider such things. Add our site to your 'Favorites' list now!

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