The Principles of fishing a dry fly in a stream

From the above it may seem obvious that an artificial dry fly that copies or imitates something that the trout are feeding on is cast at rising fish.

A fly line and a fly rod are usually used to achieve this. Fly casting is covered in a little more detail here in the future. However the most important aspect of dry fly fishing is presentation. This does not mean you must be well dressed in a jacket and tie. Fly fishers use the term good presentation to represent a rather more complex idea.

The fly is cast to the a fish in a way that the fish is unaware of the fly fisher in the stream or any casting action, and the fly behaves like a natural food item or gives the impression to a fish that it is edible. The fly fishing master Lefty Kreh understood the importance of this with his excellent book Presenting the Fly.

But what does presenting a dry fly on a stream actually mean in real terms? First being very stealthy and not scaring or alerting fish. This maybe achieved by casting to rising fish at long range or by using the correct light equipment. Using camouflage or dull clothing to match the background. Using a fly pattern that copies surface flies that fish are feeding on (matching the hatch) or using an attractor dry fly to pull up a fish (usually when no hatch is apparent) by looking or behaving in a natural and enticing manner.

For good dry fly presentation it is often better if the tippet (the material usually a nylon/co-polymer/fluorocarbon onto which the fly is tied with a fly fishing knot) sinks. However the fly line and leader should float, if not they would act to pull the dry fly under the surface. The dry fly must be cast and fished to copy the behaviour of natural insects. Many of these insects sit motionless and are carried naturally by the stream. In the following clip I explain and demonstrate my personal set up for dry fly.

In order to copy or imitate these insects that are hitching a free ride on the surface currents the angler must make a presentation cast that ensures there is enough slack in the line leader and tippet so the fly is not dragged back unnaturally. Fly fishers therefore try and eliminate drag in this form and aim for a drag free drift. The drift is the distance the fly travels downstream. When the presentation is good and the fly drag free and fish are feeding dry fly fishing represents one of the most enjoyable forms of fly fishing. As mentioned in the clip furled leaders are an excellent aid for dry fly fishing and are available here.

Fly fishing with an artificial dry fly is one of the oldest forms of fly fishing. Modern fly fishing began on the chalk streams (limestone creeks to our American visitors) of southern England. Indeed upstream dry fly is still the only legal angling method on many exclusive chalk streams to this day.

But how effective is dry fly fishing for the modern river fly fisher?