Fishing ‘Wet Fly’ Style

I started to fish “wet fly” style last fall and wished I started earlier.

It is a very graceful way to fly fish. And, since you’re working the flies downstream and walking downstream, it is a lot easier on the legs and back.

It also is very rewarding. A swinging fly, whether a streamer or a wet fly, just seems to trigger a trout to strike. You won’t mistake the take. They just crush it.

I fish two at a time, and I find that it’s a great way to try different combinations: two wets, a streamer and a wet fly, a weighted nymph and a wet fly. This technique hasn’t worked for me that well in super-shallow waters, like the Swift, but it has worked well on larger waters, like the EB and the Millers.

Writing this post makes me recall the most vicious strike last season, which occurred on the EB, as I was swinging two nymphs at the end of a drift. There’s a particular spot that always seem to host an Alpha Trout, the biggest and baddest trout in the area that gets the prime feeding lie. One time, it was a very large tiger trout on a humid August day. Another time, it was a large rainbow in very cold water in November.

On the Millers, there was a honey hole in which I caught multiple 15″+ rainbows. All ablaze with fall colors. All caught with an induced take at the end of the drift. All pounced on the fly. Made me realize more deeply that trout are predators.

Guide, author, and fly tyer Steve Culton has a great write-up here on the what and how of wet flies. It’s a very thoughtful post. In fact, I’ve been reading his blog: the entire thing is very thoughtful.

My only amendment is that I fish two flies, not the three that he mentions. That’s because I can just take the same rig, face upstream, and nymph with it.

How to start?  Plan on bringing the usual flies that work well, such as Pheasant Tails and Hare’s Ears. Include if possible patterns that include soft hackles and/or a little shine on the body. The latter gives the impression of an air bubble that some insects use to rise to the surface.

Remember that bug hatches start below the surface. There’s plenty going on before you see bugs flutter up. Then, when you do, move to emergers and dries.  Bring the Elkhair caddis, Stimulator, Adams, Griffith’s Gnat, and BWO patterns, and you should be good to go.

So, give it whirl. Swinging wets is probably best on days/times when the fish are less spooky (such as dawn, dusk, on cloudy days, or when bugs are beginning to rise to the surface).

It’s a great deal of fun.


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