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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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Lagrangeville, NY

Posts: 119
Patcrisci on Mar 1, 2009March 1st, 2009, 8:12 am EST
Hey, I'm with you guys 100%. I've been known to dredge a weighted stonefly through heavy rip and I love the electric jolt of a trout smashing a streamer. For me, part of the the fun of fly fishing is the ability to adapt and change tactics to fool fish. I have never been a dry fly purist and never will be. I grew up worm fishing and made the natural progression to fishing weighted nymphs and to dry flies. Now, what and how I fish doesn't matter to me at all.
Pat Crisci
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Mar 1, 2009March 1st, 2009, 9:36 am EST

Maybe we can get together for a day of fishing this season and you can show me some of the techniques you employ with your soft hackle creations. Maybe I can drop one off of a 12" length of tippet from my dry.


Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Mar 1, 2009March 1st, 2009, 10:10 am EST

Thanks for the suggestion. I am trying to improve every aspect of my technique, and feel weakest on fishing wet flies skillfully. I believe anyone can swing them--though some more skillfully than others. What I want to learn to do is to fish them damp, in the surface, like a dry. I think this may be deadly, but I always go to a dry when I have the chance to do this, often a semisubmerged parachute emerger on a scud hook. They do work pretty well. However, with your encouragement I'm again going to pledge to give damp wets more of a try this season. I actually did fish an olive wingless wet and nymph combo the last time I was out and though I caught more on the nymph, I did have some luck with the wet.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Softhackle's profile picture
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Softhackle on Mar 1, 2009March 1st, 2009, 12:36 pm EST
Tie those flies you want to use in this fashion on dry fly hooks. This will help a lot, and you can treat them with a floatant as well, and blot between casts. Stewart originally fished his spiders in this fashion, probably without the help of chemicals.

Surprisingly, many of the traditionally tied soft-hackles were tied so the soft hackles were butted up against the body or fur thorax.

Woodcock & Orange

Like this one.

"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: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Nov 4, 2009November 4th, 2009, 8:43 am EST
Re: Wright and imparting some calculated movement to the dry fly.

I would say that doing so has doubled and perhaps even tripled the effectiveness of the top water caddis patterns I fish. It is, IMO, essential, at least where I fish.

This is not phrased this way to be bombastic or hyperbolic. It has simply been my experience.

In any event, while he may have been the first to document it in widely disseminated print, I'm not sure that Wright invented the technique.

I knew it at least 5 years before he published, from the very first time a mosquito drilled me in the nose while my fly was on the water...:)
Down goes the skeeter's proboscis, up comes the rod hand to slap it away, twitch goes the fly and up comes the trout to grab it before it gets away.

And the wheels between my ears began to turn...
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Nov 4, 2009November 4th, 2009, 11:51 am EST
Good story, Lee.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Nov 5, 2009November 5th, 2009, 6:12 am EST
Louis & Lee I'll just have to jump in here with my two cents in this debate...Actually both debates...dubbing and moving the dry fly...

I am rather fond of blending my own dubbing and I am rather fond of beaver. I use other dubbing as well, but the top-of-the-line for me is beaver when I'm tying dry flies. I have a coffee blender, but was taught by an old grump that would blend his different colors by hand and I still do it this way when I'm working with beaver.

I have pieces of paper with notes on them for different bugs...25% olive, 25% yellow etc...I then sit there like a middle-easterner with worry-beads and, with forefinger and thumb of each hand, break the fur apart and put it together again removing guard hairs as I go...Over and over again until it is free of the guard hairs and it has become a soft fluffy blend...I then pull away just wisps of fur and dub it very thinly on the thread usually without wax.

My mentor stressed that mayflies are not fat and he always wanted to put my flies on a diet. Syl Nemes in his spinner book has actually mic'ed their abdomens and this is why he uses tying thread only on his spinner patterns in that book. They just aren't that much thicker than the diameter of the hook shank in most cases.

I think color is somewhere down the line in terms of importance to the trout. Us guys constructing flies like to see our creations as near to the natural as possible and that's ok. It doesn't hurt anything. I lie to myself that there is an outside chance that when Mr. Big puts his nose under my plasible fraud and inspects it he will find its color to his liking!

Now...About moving your fly "as a natural insect" or a not-so-natural one...If truth be known more fish are caught at the end of a drag-free-float than we want to admit. My fishing buddy and I use to joke that catching a fish once the fly started to drag didn't count.

I have posted somewhere else on this web page a story about fishing with a guide friend on the Au Sable during Brown Drake time. He taught me to drag the fly abit as it neared the feeding fish. He use to tell me that I was too damn good with the drag-free-float and my fly was floating right over the heads of these fish. We had found some Brown Drakes still stuck in their shucks under a dock and they were making a futile effort to free themselves and were completly out of energy and basically drowning there.

Others have responded to my post and agreed with me that the process of "hatching" is not an easy task and sometimes down right immpossible to compleat; hence cripples & still-borns. The perfect dun we see perched on top of the surface film is probably standing there resting after all the effort its used to get free of its nymphal shuck. Prior to this he's moving like crazy trying to get on with it.

My friend, the old grump again, had a nickname for me..."The Skitter-er". There is a small caddis hatching in May that we call the popcorn caddis because it bounces around on the surface, probably trying to jar it's egg-sack free. Every so often it lands on the water and floats for a few feet and starts bouncing around again...This drives the Brookies nuts! I would stand there along side a nice run and lift my rod high in the air with a fully hackled caddis imitation (Elk Hair Caddis etc)and I would let it skitter across the surface and sometimes the wind would take it airbourn and I would drop the rod tip and the fly would alight on the surface and BAM! The little Brookie just couldn't say no!

In closing though, I think I would say that there is a very fine line between presenting your fly as naturally as possible and spooking a fish. There is a phrase that we used called a "splashy refusal" and we have all witnessed this. A fish splashes at your fly and it's gone. Sometimes these situations will lead to a foul hooked fish and he will hook himself near the tail as he flips over at the end of the rise. He probably has been just under your fly for some distance and as it starts to drag he changes his mind and refuses to take the fly.

Mother nature is a brute. If you mess up it can be all over for you and in their environment trout are supreme. Just like smallmouth bass they don't miss and if they refuse your offering something is wrong on your end not theirs. I have floated flies with a perfect float and watched small trout leave the water completly and take the fly on it's way back down in to the water...They don't miss because they can't afford to...They are used to chasing things around to eat and seeing things float by them all the time.

Check out one of Jason's videos with the swiming Iso nymph...That boy can move! Yet they somehow end up in the stomachs of trout in fairly large numbers...


"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
Aaron7_8's profile picture
Helena Montana

Posts: 115
Aaron7_8 on Nov 9, 2009November 9th, 2009, 3:08 am EST
This has been a great thread for me to read a new fly fihser. It always does good to hear others experiences. Thanks for sharing.

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