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pmflyfisher 02-07-2002 09:14 PM

Dry Fly Only ?
Are their any dry fly only fishermen left?

Growing up trout fishing in the NYS Catskill region rivers and Northern NJ 40 years ago there were a number of dry fly only fisherman. These older gentlemen would not fly fish unless conditions were right for dry fly on the trout streams.

Actually I was like that for a few years, then became a wet fly and nymph fisherman. Still love the dry fly when conditions are right. Nothing like matching the hatch and working a pool picking off all of the active risers.

Wondering if there are any true purist dry fly fisherman still around?

You can personal message me if you prefer. Doubt if there will be many postiive responses.

Dble Haul 02-07-2002 09:35 PM

While I like to fish dry flies, I am one of those who play the percentages and subscribe to the notion that 90% of a trout's diet is taken under the surface. I actually prefer nymphs to dries. I think it might have something to do with the satisfaction of feeling a subtle strike and hooking the fish. It's very gratifying. And it's also extremely productive under the right conditions. :cool:

Hawkeye 02-07-2002 09:49 PM

In my early years of flyfishing I was dry fly only. Nymphs were beyond me - I didn't understand them or how to fish them. I could see a dry and most of the time know I was matching the hatch and most certainly know when I had fooled one.

Now I catch most of my trout on nymphs. I almost never use wets or streamers. In a heartbeat I will switch to dries if I think it'll work. Often times I've had fish hit my indicator and I'll switch to some outrageous looking dry and frequently fool a few fish before going back to the nymph.

I could never just sit on the bank waiting for a hatch to happen.

pmflyfisher 02-07-2002 10:30 PM

Yes you are both like me, primarily nymphs.

Beleive all of the dry fly only fisherman have left this earth.

John Desjardins 02-07-2002 10:59 PM

To me dry flies are much easier to fish than a nymph or streamer. Fishing a dry fly is a two dimensional challenge of presenting the fly and eliminating drag, while you can see the fly. Nymphs, wets or streamers add the third dimension of depth in the water column and often not being able to see the fly.

So what do I fish? Most of the time both a dry and a wet or nymph. It would probably 2 nymphs if I liked using strike indicators.

Hal, its interesting that you brought up this topic. An advantage of meistering the trout fly swap is that I get to see all the flies. I've been noticing that they are ~ 90% sub-surface.

pmflyfisher 02-08-2002 05:57 AM


Thats what I thought, what will happen to the art of dry fly tying and fishing ? I remember forty years ago the dry fly only older gentlemen would look down on the wet fly, nymph, spinner, and bait fisherman in about that order. Me being in my early teens I would sneak around the next river bend before I put on my wets and nymphs so they would not at least talk to me when I ran into them again on the river. They were the original purist fly fisherman, not many left today, I think.

Nothing like a summer day figuring out what they are rising to, matching the hatch, and then executing successfully.

Thats it, have to do more dry fly fishing this year !!!!

I am doing the Atlantic Salmon fly swap, bet there will be no dry flies.


kcsmes 02-08-2002 06:48 AM

Dry Fly fishing
Maybe its the timing when I get to fish for trout (or freshwater bass for that matter), or the places I fish, but if I switched to dry fly fishing only I would significantly reduce my fishing success. It is the exception rather than the rule that I will see rising fish, nevermind being present for a hatch. Not that these opportunities don't present themselves. Like most of you have indicated, I am ready to switch to a dry at the first sign that the fish are interested, and I spend much of my time nymphing or wet flying observing the water for any evidence of a dry fly fishing opportunity. There is nothing better than taking a fish on the surface. Early last summer at Joppa I noticed an occasional boil at the surface and decided to switch to a popper. For several hours I caught one schoolie striper after another, each one exploding at the surface to grab the fly. It was a blast. One of my best fishing experiences was a time when we got heavily into bluefish hitting on the surface. It wasn't uncommon for two or three fish to try to hit at the same time and a popper would only last a few fish before it was chewed to bits.

I get the same thrill from a delicately rising trout and will never miss the opportunity to fish dry flys when it is present. But I would rather catch fish with nymphs and wet flys in the meantime.

Sprocket 02-08-2002 07:35 AM

great topic.

my buddy fishes on top no matter what & has for years. he dabbles with subsurface every once in a while but would rather remain fishless and get them to hit his top water offering.

me - I like to catch fish so I'll use whatever fly/method is working - or at least try to use it.

I use fly gear exclusively

overmywaders 02-08-2002 07:56 AM

Since 80% of my trout fishing is in fast, rocky freestone streams with lots of pocket water and plunge pools, I use dries most of the time. When I work the riffles (seldom) I would use wets, and sometimes I work the pools with streamers; but dries are the ticket for the pockets and the holding places around rocks. My favorite river has little in the way of mayfly hatches, but has plenty of caddis, stoneflies, and terrestrials, which means the trout are opportunistic feeders -- neither the fish nor I wait for hatches..

Brad 02-08-2002 08:58 AM

I love to fish dry flies and will jump at the opportunity when it rises. I like to walk the bank searching for rising fish more than i like dead drift nymphing. We took a trip up to The Henry's Fork last year and got into some fantastic dry PMD action. However, I caught more fish swinging soft hackles than on drys 20 to 1. Fishing soft hackles reminds me of fishing a current for stripers. I cast quartering down, the fly sinks a bit and then gets hammered on the rise. I like feeling the line tighten and then stop dead before the fish starts fighting. I can enjoy the scenery more, I do not have to concentrate as much as with nymphs or drys and it works.


OC 02-08-2002 10:14 AM

There are still plenty of dry fly fishermen only out there. Maybe back east on the famous rivers they have all died off and the Orvis crowd has taken over. But as Brad said try the Henerys Fork some summer between late June and mid July. There you will find a breed of fishermen that fish only surface. Now this includes emergers, spiner falls and cripples. Out there the pursuit of the feeding fish is the game and not how many you get. Often you will walk the banks looking for the perfect fish or the fish in the most difficult situation to cast to. One will spend the time figuring out how to aproach the fish and how to make the cast and of course selection of matching exactly what that fish is feeding on. That by the way is a trip in itself as those rainbows between 16" and 26 inches are exact in there selection, there are no all mosts in matching.
Anyway once you have done this enough chances are great that you will never go back to nymph fishing again, one will be completely bored by it. You still will go fishing as often but there will be days when you might make one cast or none at all and still learn so much about a river and yourself.
The last time trout fishing I made maybe 2 casts in three days on the Big Horn in Wyoming because the days were 100 degrees and there were no hatches. But I had a ball watching, observing and directing the kids to fish that were feeding on nymphs. By the way I would not let them use an indicator, It is better for them to learn the feel than the lazy way out that so many new age fly guys use today.

juro 02-08-2002 10:22 AM

OC -

Your description conjures visions of air-clear water and trout in their true element in my mind... makes me want to get out there as fast as I can.

And in my flybox... NOTHING BUT DRIES!

Yes, you are right - there are many, many dry fly only guys out there. God bless them.

OC 02-08-2002 01:06 PM

Juro and for all you trout fishing guys and gals back east. If you have never made the trip out west to the rockies, Montana and Idaho to do this type of fishing, dry fly only then you should. Go out there this summer leave all your nymphs at home, forget about fishing all the big free stone rivers where trout are easy. Instead dedicate your trip to learning why there are still plenty of folks who only fish on the surface. You might not be real sucsessful but what you learn about fly fishing the most difficult trout will stay with you forever. As for only old guys fishing this way that's not the case out there. There are many 20 something year olds who have left the real world and now work for pennies, live in a teepee or a shack just to fish this way. Boy are they good at it too, these young ones can fish with the best of them, but they have made it thier life at the cost of having family and money.
The fish, fished to on the Henerys Fork would be called 2 cigarette, 3 cigarette or even a 4 cigarette fish. By that it was how many smokes it took to figure out everything that was needed to make a good cast to a certain fish. Always that evening in some honky tonk bar in Last Chance or West Yellowstone the story would be told as such. 22" fish four cigarettes. One would not have to say any more the listener would understand what the angler went through to cast to a fish. This may have been unhealthy but out in that country fly fishers smoke and drink with the best of them, maybe that's why all the old ones are now passed away.
But get out there sometime and fish just this way with or without the smokes and leave the nymphs at home.

Adrian 02-08-2002 02:14 PM

I love to fish dry flies - even on freestone rivers and lakes. On the western lakes in Eire when the mayfly hatch is on, dry fly will often outfish other methods. Even on the stocked English reservoirs, there was a surge of interest in fishing dries and emergeres in the surface film about 1o years ago almost to exclusion of everything else.

Sadly the chalk streams like the Test and Kennet in the South East of England where Halford and Skues raised this method to an art form are mere shadows of their former glory having suffered from extraction and nitrate run-off.

overmywaders 02-08-2002 02:24 PM

Casting to rising fish is fun, there is no doubt of that, but casting to where the fish may be holding, though no fish is seen, is stimulating as well. Sometimes it takes a dozen casts to bring the trout up to the surface...sometimes you're casting to empty water. And you may never know which it is; you may have put the fish down on the third cast.
I hitchhiked out to Montana in the 60's to fish the Yellowstone River. It was big water and there were some big fish but there wasn't the structure or variety of water that I was accustomed's one man's meat...

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