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Dry fly fishing takes expertis and local knowledge, but the experience is sporting indeed

July 2, 2010
Author: Admin

Most beginners start with wet fly fishing, but experts say that the techniques of dry fly fishing are more challenging and simply more beautiful

As any experienced fly fisher knows, flies for landing the big ones come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, and there as many subtleties in fly tying to attract strikes as there are people who tie the flies themselves. Fly fishing is popular the world over, in freshwater and saltwater, and the sport – considered by many to be the pinnacle of angling techniques – can trace its recorded history back as far as 200 A.D.

But for the uninitiated, essentially there are two types of artificial flies for fishing, wet flies and dry flies, and all of them, of course, are meant to imitate the natural food the targeted species likes to feed upon. Wet flies are those designed to sink and meet the fish below the surface of the water where they feel safer. Dry flies, on the other hand, are made to stay on the surface.

As such, dry fly fishing is considered the more difficult and sporting of the two, and for a variety of reasons. First, as mentioned, fish feel safer below the surface of the water, so in essence there are more of them down there and they are less stressed. Dry flies on the surface of the water are easier for the fish to see, as well as easier to detect that a fly isn’t really food. The line and leader are more visible, and being tethered and subject to stream movement, dry fly fishing is more difficult to maintain the natural look and movement of native food sources.

On the other hand, many experienced anglers also prefer dry fly fishing because the action is more visible and exciting. Trout and other game fish that strike dry flies on the surface strike with force and the experience is reported by many anglers as not only more challenging, but simply more beautiful as well. Dry fly fishing requires more casting control and drift management, which is why it is recommended that most fly fishing beginners start with wet fly fishing until they gain some experience and hone their technique.

Shopping for dry flies can be a dizzying experience, as there are literally thousands of techniques and ideas in fly tying, as each individual fly tier has his or her own biases.  Dry flies are generally made of a mixture of natural and synthetic materials, including threads, elk, deer, muskrat or other furs, feathers, plastics, foam and more, and often they are treated with dressings, such as silicon and paraffin, to increase buoyancy. Of course, these materials are all tied onto a hook, which come in various sizes, and the whole approach is to imitate natural food sources.

Experienced anglers say that one of the more important features of a dry fly is visibility – by the fisherman. Many fly tiers use high-visibility foams and plastics that are easy to spot and follow so the angler can better manage the cast, watch the drift, and keep an eye on the strike scene. These are generally designed to be highly visible from the top, not the fish view, so that the fish will believe the fly is food.

The most common things to imitate in fly tying are mayflies and caddisflies, as these are major sources of natural food for trout and other stream and lake species, but there are many, many other types of natural food sources and these vary by time of year to copy the different development stages of insects and other prey.

Some of the more popular types of dry flies include Adams, Blue Dun, Brown Bivisible, Dark Cahill, Gray Wulff, Green Drake, Hendrickson, Humpy, Irresistible, Light Cahill, Muddler Minnow (dressed to float), Quill Gordon, some type of hopper, and brown and gray midges.

The most important source of information of what works well in the lake or stream in question, at the time of year one is planning to fly fish, are local fishing guides and fly shops with experience in those waters, and Trout's Fly Fishing, the west's premier full service fly shop, is ready and able to provide you with all the information you need for a fantastic experience on the water. Call (303) 733-1434, or visit, for more information.

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