Dries or Die

I was fishing next to a very experienced angler. He fishes only dries. In fact, he doesn’t own any nymphs. He gave them all away some decades ago, to force himself to master dry-fly fishing. “A lifetime of learning,” he said.

That got me thinking about things.

I’ll always be into tightline nymphing, and so, I wouldn’t go that far. But, this past month, I’ve been focused on dry flies, knowing that it’s a low-volume strategy. “Dries or die.” My goal on each outing is to get just one take on a homemade dry fly. Everything else is upside. Sometimes, I land a few fish. Last time, I landed zero: three takes, but none made it to the net.

But, it is a complete rush to see a fish rise in flat water and take a size 30 fly.

I’m finding that fishing small dries on small barbless hooks to be pretty tough, particularly when I’m casting downstream many times. Yes, it’s about getting a good drift, but also, setting the hook at the right time and at an angle that doesn’t pull the fly out of a trout’s mouth.

I’ve also started making my own leaders to find something that will cast for distance and help ensure a drag-free drift. I’ll write more about that as I get more experience with it.

Surprisingly, I was more than OK the day I was skunked. I learned a great deal on that day about many things, including which of my flies received looks from the fish.

So, right now, fly fishing for me is about learning about what does, and what does not, work. As long as I make progress on dry-fly fishing, I’m happy.


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6 thoughts on “Dries or Die

  1. Use the widest gap hook available for the desired size, slightly offset the hook point. Helps a lot IMO.

  2. There is nothing like catching a trout on a dry fly in my opinion. Some top water hits are soft and some are violent as they attack the drifting fly. I had a nice rainbow recently hit a drifting deer hair caddis as hard as one can imagine. Just like a big bass is the only way I can describe it.

  3. I'd rather catch one fish on a dry all day than 5 subsurface. I'm not quite dry or die, but close. More like anti nymphing would be better. Streamers, soft hackles, or dries for me. I guess that comes from my small stream background.

    1. I too like fishing wet flies. Easy on the body and it just feels incredibly graceful. Not a big fan of streamer fishing for some reason, but the beauty of fly fishing is there's so much variety and each technique "feels" different.

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