Sunday, 10 July 2011

Drying Out

This weekend I have been mainly fishing the dry fly. No particular reason, other than I like it, so I did. Its funny, when I read about people fishing the dry fly they often write about it being a good method 'on its day' or that despite common sense suggesting they should fish a more effective method they have elected to fish dries because it is aesthetically pleasing, or traditional, or 'the done thing'. Dry fly fishing can be all of those things, it is fantastic to see the fish rise to the fly or to target an individual fish, but for me in most circumstances it is my 'go to method'. What happened this weekend illustrated perfectly what can happen when the dry fly is fished when the conditions are not what people would consider to be ideal.

Day one - North Devon river. The heavy showers at the latter part of the week had seen the river rise and adopt the colour of milky tea. Those heavy showers were still about and breezy sunshine was interspersed with torrential downpours. Hardly classic dry fly conditions.

I think I saw a fish move to a size 26 caenis spinner - or was it just a hail stone?

These conditions would normally have me fishing the streamer or the wet fly but today I wanted to fish the dry fly, so dry fly it was. Remarkably effective it was too. I am going to get round to writing an article on how to fish these North Devon rivers at some point. It will be all about line control, accuracy and reading the water. With the water up like this the 'reading the water' bit becomes really important. Places where you can normally expect to find a trout when the river at normal levels will now be a raging torrent, and your deep holding pools will hold the coloured water for longer. You need to identify where the fish may hold out now. I look for the shallow, clearer, streamy water quite often fishing areas which are dry at normal levels.Bigger than normal flies fished in these areas produced a succession of feisty brown trout, nothing remarkably large although I did rise what looked to me to be a small peal but failed to connect. A really good day's fishing in what are often regarded as difficult conditions.

Day two, dry fly fishing again, but different. Today saw me afloat on a local reservoir chasing rainbow trout. Conditions were a bit better this time, good cloud cover and warm, but (as ever) blowy. This was the first visit to this water for a little while and so the mission was to locate the fish and this meant covering a lot of water and quickly. Drifting with no drogue in a good wave meant that I moved along at a fair lick and for this dry fly fishing is perfect. Despite the fact that there was absolutely no sign of feeding fish I fished a team of dry flies with confidence. Short casting across the wave and leaving the flies in place for only 5-10 seconds before placing them somewhere else meant, with a fast drifting boat, that I covered a huge area of water. I did not see a fish rise to a natural for the first 4 hours of fishing. By then I had 3 good fish in the bag and that riser very soon became the fourth and there were more to follow, particularly when the wind eased into the evening and the fish started to rise.

Dry fly munching trout admires gaudy coloured fly reel.

So two days of fishing, the same tactic - the dry fly - but very different and in conditions which would not be considered ideal. Fishing the dry fly is a massive subject but is great fun and can be remarkably effective. On its day...

Happy fishing.


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  1. Nice job working that Dry fly until the fish could resist no more. Beauty Rainbow and pics. It is always crazy watching them leap out for a dry fly. Tight Lines.

  2. Cheers TM, quite possibly my favourite method of fishing.