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> > Continuation of "Fishing a Fly as a Living Insect"

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OldredbarnNovember 6th, 2009, 8:32 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608
I found this explanation and photos on the web. It shows a dragonfly emerging on a plant away from the river. There is an explanation of incomplete metamorphosis attached to it.

We all know that some aquatic insects that have an incomplete metamorphosis go through some molts, like this dragonfly pictured, away from the stream. We have all seen old stonefly shucks clinging to logs etc along the stream.

But what about those insects that "hatch" and emerge right in the surface film? Can a process that's as complicated looking as these photos be completed without movement?

I think that the dry fly guys of old were limiting themselves to a very small window of the fishes over-all feeding time. It was tied up in tradition and the old tweed boys would only cast to feeding fish. I think an argument can be made, see posts by Mark "Softhackle", that old fashioned wets may have been taken by the fish and the reason for their continued success, as emergers.

I was schooled in fly fishing by a guy that was considered Mr. Dry Fly here in Michigan. I still fish that way most of the time. In our time we are way more knowledgeable about what's going on with the bugs we imitate and the eating behavior of trout and my imitations have evolved over time to the "damp" variety.

Over the last decade or two materials like CDC and "soft" game bird type feathers have made a comeback because of the movement and life like quality it can give a fly. It looks alive and natural to the fish.

So, movement isn't neccesarily bad...even in a not so dry fly.

After years of fishing together, old nearly British style waiting for the hatch, he finally turned to me one day and said, "You know Spence...We do a hell-of-a-lot-of waiting around!" Next thing I knew he was nymphing! His theory, for the moment, is nymph until the hatch begins and then he switches to an emerger or dry. Really it's old Ernie Schwieberts "Match the Hatch" as someone else mentioned elsewhere on this web page. You toss what the fish is eating when he's eating it...I guess.

Anyway! I really need a good editor! I am the ramblingest guy on this blog...


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
FalsiflyNovember 6th, 2009, 10:31 am
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 661
His theory, for the moment, is nymph until the hatch begins and then he switches to an emerger or dry.

Yep, thatís how itís done, but donít forget that for the most part the hatch begins at the bottom. Nymphing is a very productive and enjoyable form of fishing the hatch, at least for me. But, I too have spent countless hours sitting on a rock waiting for the emergence to hit the surface so I could wet a dry. As a matter of fact I have sat countless evenings waiting in anticipation for something that never happened, and never even made a cast.

Spence, I hope you donít mind if I do a little rambling myself.

An hour, before one of natures most magical moments, known most intimately to the night fisher of the fly, I wind my way along the path that follows waters edge, not so much in search of a place, but a moment in time----dusk. For reasons Iíve yet to understand, the urge compels me, when and where, to enter the theater for this eveningís performance. As I make my way to the stage I find a comfortable seat, normally towards the back, from which the stage reveals itself in its immensity, and my viewing pleasure is best satiated. I sit, making myself comfortable, fidgeting with this and that, waiting for the curtain to raise and reveal this eveningís play. With nothing but time on my hands I think back to all the past performances, and theaters, I have attended. In my younger days, like most kids, I was unable to sit quietly. But, now that the rough edges have been smoothed over in my latter years, not unlike the freestone-boulder on which I sit, I realize just how much of the past plays I have missed, in my haste. Though the theme is often similar, the cast is never the same. And, it can be mellow dramatic and of short duration, or an evening long frenzy of activity, requiring an operatic understanding to comprehend. Yes, the music is also there, but one must listen, attuned to natureís harmonious way. As time slowly ticks I catch a slight raise in the curtain, a few cast members have revealed themselves on the stage floor, in balletic like perfection, then disappearing as if Peter Pan. The audience begins to stir with excited anticipation; will this be another command performance? But just as quickly the activity ebbs and the audience returns to quite solitude. I sit, having never left my seat, watching as the lights have gone from dim to completely out. I stand and stretch my aching back making my way to the exit. Tonightís play was canceled.

When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
RleePNovember 6th, 2009, 10:45 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
This (IMO at any rate..) is not a complex matter.

You throw a bass bug (or for that matter, a floating Rapala) up against the edge of a reed bed. You leave it sit absolutely still for 5, 10, 15 seconds. Then you move your rod hand like you're erasing a pencil mark. The bug quivers. The bass, primitive creature that he is, is pushed over the edge by the quivering and he engulfs the bug.

You're working your way up a nice piece of trout water with an elk or deer hair caddis dry, speculatively casting to good holding water. You drop the fly tight along an instream log. Nice cast, but no response. You do it again and this time, just after the fly lands, make the same jiggling motion that enticed the bass to the bug. The trout, primitive creature that he is, is pushed over the edge by the quivering and he engulfs the fly.

You're fishing a flush sulfur hatch on one of the big Pennsylvania Delayed Harvest projects (Pine, Oil, etc.). Bugs (and rising fish) are everywhere and your parachute fly or comparadun is sometimes hard to tell from all the naturals floating along side it. You give your fly the little jiggle. Suddenly, in the raft of insects floating by, it stands out from all the rest. The trout, primitive creature that he is, is pushed over the edge by the quivering and he engulfs the fly.

Does it always work? No..

Done correctly and in the right types of situations, does it work more often than it doesn't?

In my experience, yes it does.

The insects are living things. So is the trout. So am I, most of the time...:)

We, like all living things, are almost always moving, even if it is in a very minor way.. I sit on the couch and fidget and scratch my nose while watching TV. The caddisfly or the sulfur dun or grasshopper fidgets on the surface of the water. The feeding trout is almost constantly moving in response to opportunities.

All this (except the part about me and the TV) often makes imparting action to the dry fly a more effective way to fish. IMO, at any rate..

OldredbarnNovember 6th, 2009, 1:25 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608

Nice rapsodizing there...I bet your fishing log reads better than mine...As least more poetic!

I was lucky enough to fish DePuy's spring creek in July of 1995. I was spending two weeks in Montana and had also booked a day at Armstrong's for later in the week. Through the Madison River Fishing Co I booked this day on DePuy's as a three day guided "Montana Sampler", or fly fishing school. The first day was DePuy's, the 2nd a waded trip to the Madison's "Three Dollar Bridge", and finally a day long float down the Madison.

The manager at Madison River, Eric, told me the day before we drove from Ennis to Paradise Valley that I should take my own car. Some of the folks included in the three days were just starting out in fly fishing and would want to leave early from DePuy's. This indead happened and around 4:00 or so everyone took off and I had the rest of the evening and the river to myself.

When we were having lunch that day on the river I was chatting with one of the guides about Michigan fishing etc. Boys in Montana, once they have heard that you are from Michigan, they want to talk about two thing...Steelies & The Hex. Anyway! He told me to walk up the trail to this spot on the river and he would be up there once everyone finished lunch.

I found this spot and it was beautiful...Well actually everything there is beautiful! I waded out and started to fish. Eventually he showed up and said, "Does this stretch remind you of anything?" I said yes that it reminded me, sans mountains etc, of my home water on the Au Sable. He said, "That's why I sent you here. This here stretch is known as the PhD hole because catching a fish here is equivalent to a PhD in fishing."

The thing that's so great about out west as opposed to where I fish is that you can watch everything...The fish are right out in the open. The PMD's were starting to show and there were fish all around and I caught a few, but it wasn't as consistant as I felt it should be. I was fishing, if I may say so myself, a damn near perfect PMD Comparadun.

The guide said to me, as I stood in the river studying the fish, "Just watch them for a minute. Really watch them." I did as I was told. (Don't ever question a good guide when he has decided your ok and he's going to impart some wisdom!) I watched and started to notice that for every ten rises I thought I was seeing, on average, only one actually broke the surface...The rest were just "fake rises" and the disturbance at the surface was from the fishes dorsal nearly breaking through...There really wasn't a true ring after the rise.

I looked up at the guide standing there grinning ear to ear and I said they are taking the emergers before they make it to the surface. "Bingo!", he said. He then had me wade over to him and he attached a PT nymph and hung it off the back of my dry fly's hook. Much better!

I may not of earned my PhD that afternoon, but I moved a little closer to my Masters.

Take Care!


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
SofthackleNovember 7th, 2009, 8:14 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Hi Spence,Everyone
Thanks for the mention. It is my experience, especially where I live, that fly behavior is VERY important. More important than size, shape and color. If a fly is not behaving like a natural, it'll probably get passed up. To me, in order to be alive or look alive, flies must move in some way. It might be very little, but they move. As you have pointed out CDC and soft bird plumage work well to simulate this, even during what we'd term a "dead drift".

I've noticed some very good points in this thread. Falsifly notes that hatches start on the bottom. That is, mostly true, and using a sinking fly like a nymph, works very well for bottom fishing. I myself prefer wingless wets tied on heavy hooks fished on a sinking or sink tip line. This gets the fly down. Again, the soft-hackle used for these flies helps make the fly seem alive and they can be fished from bottom to top, simulating the hatch as well as fished at the bottom, like a nymph.

Back in the 70s when Len Wright wrote his book about fishing flies as if alive, the norm for dries was, upstream, dead drift, no movement. That, luckily, has changed. Long before Fontaine, Wright was one of the first fly fishers to recognize the importance of caddis as a staple trout food. Caddis are constantly "on the go". Dry flies, today, can and often are fished across and downstream and twitched, slightly to simulate fly movement. In my opinion, wingless wets fished in the surface or just below or a good CDC fly like Hans Weilenmann's CDC and Elk fished like this is deadly. First, because the fly comes first before the leader, and second because of the inherent movement of the soft fibers.

I would suggest that anyone who is having problems catching trout on regular, static type dry flies to try a wingless wet or CDC pattern. The result will surely speak for itself. Also, it is good to note that there are some great soft-hackled flies that use CDC as hackle.


"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
BigflyDecember 6th, 2009, 12:33 pm
Truckee, CA.

Posts: 6
One of my favorite and most productive methods to fish is, drift a dry midge 18-20 with a nearly weightless (1.5mm tungsten bead) CDC emerger behind it on a very short mono dropper 3-6". I highly recommend using Snake River Mud (a wetting agent)on the dropper. Allows you to fish the fly exactly where it should be. Using a flouro dropper pulls the dry fly down, not useing a wetting agent, the mono dropper floats and the fly drifts in surface tension(sometimes OK). Add the smallest loop knot possible, and you get action that makes trout eat.

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