Now that we are well into the dog days of summer are here in Colorado, I think it is time we address the elephant in the room. Dry flies. It should not be a secret that you should be fishing dry flies and hoppers at this point in the season. Heck, it is kind of what we all wait for. Personally, I am at the point in the season when I try and see how large I can go with them. Shoot #6, #8 grasshoppers? Why not. However, with fishing dry flies comes the practice of keeping them...well...dry. Even though this segment of flies is typically tied with highly buoyant materials all of them need a little bit of assistance to ride on top of the water.
It does not matter if you are an established angler or stepping into a fly shop for the first time, a quick glance at the floatant section can be a bit overwhelming. From liquids, gels, and powders trying to pick the right one can be a tad confusing and can honestly leave anyone with a bit of analysis paralysis and forgetting about the stuff. However, I can assure you this should not happen. Let me put it to you this way. Fishing Dry Flies without floatant is a lot like trying to make a cake without any baking powder. It just does not work. There will be no rise.
Today we will be talking about why you need floatant on you at all times if you are fishing dry flies. So, let's dive in.
Dry Flies (and hoppers) are tied, to imitate various terrestrial bugs. Among other things, dry flies are tied with the purpose of...well, staying dry. If you were not aware, a fly that stays dry equals a fly that stays floating and, a fly that floats is a fly that (potentially) gets eaten by a trout or ten. By now, you may be wondering where things like Loons Dry Shake or a Shimazaki Dry-Shake come into play.
Well, let's say you forwent a bottle when you left the shop. After about 15 mins of casting, or (hopefully) after a few trout eats, your fly will start to absorb more water, fish slime, or other things in the river and will eventually begin to sink. At this point, reviving your fly will be nearly impossible. Why? Well, if we want to be a tad *scientific* there is not a hydrophobic barrier (aka floatant) to protect your fly from absorbing water quickly. If there are dry spots on your fly the amount of floatant that will permeate the fly will not be enough to keep your fly afloat if used at this point.
If you do not want to be in this situation, this is where the various types of floatant come into play.
While gel-type floatants (Loon Aquel, Gink, Umpqua Bug Flote) all have an important place in an angler's bag of goodies, they should not be your first option. There is a critical first step an angler should take before using gel-type floatants products. What is this step you might be wondering?
Simply put, it is dressing your fly with your choice of Dry Shake. If you are unfamiliar with these steps, continue on reading. First, pull out your container of dry shake, open the lid, place your new or now soaked (wet) dry fly into the white powdery contents while still connected to your tippet, screw the lid back on (I don't personally don't close the lid tightly just kinda 'hold' the lid closed) and give it 10-12 shakes. Your fly will jostle around inside (about 15 seconds) and watch all those little white crystalline powders will work their way into the hackles, fibers, and furs of your fly, and VOILA, come out completely dry.
Once this is complete, give the fly a shake/blow on the fly to remove any access powders. This is where you should have your cameraman take some photos because these tend to be prettaaa prettaa schweeeet. Sorry. Where were we? Oh, dressing flies. Once you get done with this step, it is time to reach for your gel floatant. Why now? Well if you are unaware, applying a gel floatant to a soaked (wet) fly doesn't help the cause. Remember what I said before about baking powder and a cake? All of this is to say that adding some dry shake to your rigging routine will work much better and, your flies will last longer for your next trip out to the water.