Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Montana Fly Fishing: Getting the Drift Right...

We fished a small creek today and, not to brag, caught a fair number of fat trout, all on dry flies--hotspot caddis, yellow sally and parachute pmd. While we pitched several different flies, mostly just for the hell of it, it occurred in almost every case when we got the drift right we got a take. When the fly dragged or was not in the proper lane, in other words the drift just didn't cut it, the trout ignored our offerings. 

Several things need to happen to get the drift right. It all starts with the leader. Unless there is a reason not to, such as heavy brush or other obstacles, a dry fly leader should be at least 10 feet long, more if conditions, such as low, clear water and such warrant. The tippet should be at least 3-4 feet long "sized" to the "fly." Notice I did not say anything about "leader shy, phd trout and the like." For starters, 3X is about right for a big, air-resistant Wulff; 6X is about right for a #24 Trico; in other words consider fly size and air resistance and what size tippet will best turn over that fly. Properly built and properly presented the tippet should NOT straighten...if it does add to its length, change your cast or downsize, say from 3X to 4X. A straight tippet causes instant drag and in most dry fly situations DRAG IS EVIL...Kill it. 

If you can only learn one cast for presenting dry flies make it a REACH CAST or as I like to call it a MEND IN THE AIR. Whatever the cast is easily learned and with little practice you will be surprised how quickly your success rate begins to soar. 

Other things to consider: Stalk closer, rather than pitch across several currents or attempt a longer cast than your skill level warrants. Short, accurate casts make controlling drag easier. Try to position yourself so the whole cast lands in water of the same current speed. If for instance you standing below the lip of a still pool in fast water and cast up into the slower water the faster current will quickly rip the fly downstream, killing any chance for decent drift. While the easiest way to get close is to fish upstream, upstream does not always work. Study the situation first then move to the most appropriate spot; if it's downstream be aware the target is now facing you and don't get too close. Learn to check the forward cast, then drop your rod to something close to hip level. As fly floats down strip line in without moving the fly. If you allow the rod to remain high up it is almost impossible to strip without moving fly. When fishing downstream longer drifts are possible by carefully shaking out line while not moving the fly. Live by the mantra, "Make the first shot count, all the rest are warning shots anyway," and, trust me, your batting average will improve big time...Guarandamnteed.

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