BASIC DRY FLY FISHING - A BEGINNING 

Many of us who fish wet fly tend to steer clear of fishing the dry fly method others are simply put off by the idea that it is too difficult to master or elitist.

Anyone can as with all disciplines of angling with a little practice master this art.It is far from as complicated as many books and articles would have us believe ! Neither do we have to be experts on natural fly and insect life !

The beauty and excitement of fishing the dry .. the fly is visible at all times,rising fish are seen rising to the fly and actually taking it off the surface in a deep swirl.

There are many pitfalls that the novice dry fly fisherman falls into through merely lacking in a little finesse and the knowledge of where to begin so let's get started …

Again as I often mention observation and a degree of river / stroke watercraft pays dividends.

Dry fly fishing traditionally requires the fly to be cast upstream to rising fish with the angler retrieving line in time with the current as the fly drifts downstream. Maintaining a slack line to avoid drag but not so slack that contact with the fly is lost on a strike.It so tempting to cast immediately to rising fish in the hope that one or more are willing to take the fly.

First step is to identify what fly life there is.

There may be a thick hatch of flies flying over the water surface in which case it is an easy matter to catch one in the hand,look to the wind lane where there is often a little ' froth ' evident,a place where insect and fly life become trapped,fish feed on the edges of these lanes both in river and loch.

It is not always the case that fish are feeding on the airborne flies but perhaps another fly / insect species unseen by the angler.Confused already as to where to begin ?

' Match The Hatch ' is a great saying amongst fly fishermen and none truer.

Into the fly box and simply look for an imitation that is about the same size and colour as those scooped from the water or wind lane.A little trial and error and maybe a change or two of fly pattern to correspond with those natural insects should bring fish to the fly.As time goes by and more experience is gained many flies will be easily recognised and choice of pattern presented without hesitation.

' Kick Sampling '

Is a term described describing the turning over of gravel,small stones or rocks by shuffling one's feet in the shallows in order to displace the bottom.This allows the angler to pick loose rock or stone up and inspect the underside to find out what aquatic life is clinging to the bottom of the stone.Such as Caddis larvae or a variety of nymphs.

Simply match and fish a nymph pattern about the same size and colour.

Some fly fishermen carry a small wire framed net such as found and bought from aquarium and pet shop stockists.This is used to scoop up any insects or nymphs floating downstream.Again match the insect or nymph with a similar fly pattern

' Marrowspoon '

Marrowspoons are singular or combined within the handle of trout priests,these long narrow spoons are gently inserted down through the trout's mouth and into the stomach cavity.Stomach content is then withdrawn in the hollow of the spoon and inspected for nymphs and other insect life.A choice of fly pattern can be chosen accordingly from divulging the stomach contents.


Dress dry flies with floatant when dry not waterlogged as it serves little purpose dry off flies before applying a good quality floatant or gel.

There's trout rising … ready to fish and raring to go !

Not so fast !

A few minutes observation greatly increases the chance of a successful hook up.


Several fish appear to be rising well within casting distance … but are there more than one lying together rising intermittently or a single fish perhaps two or more cruising the area rising randomly ?

Watching the water look for where the rises occur and is there any pattern over a given area.If so fish are probably cruising as opposed to the steady rise in a one specific area behind a rock for instance and such like lyes.Look for different styles of rise .. In general.

' The Bulge '

This occurs when only the fishes back breaks the water surface rolling onto or porpoising onto the fly,in general the action of a bigger fish.

' Bubbles ' often a stream of bubbles are noticed off the rise the greater the rise the bigger the bigger the insect or fly taken.

' Sipping ' When the fish's snout only creases the surface,gently sucking the fly from the surface with very little surface disturbance.'

' Splash ' Splashy rises are often small fish and are quite obvious as such however at some point big trout will rise to a fly.

Rather than take it off the surface the trout slaps the surface with his tail ' drowning ' the fly in the subsurface layers taking as he turns back to the surface.

Having worked out whether or not the challenge is against holding or cruising fish the next point to be considered is can I get a clean cast to the target fish ?
Should there be two or more fish together casting over the ' shoal ' will see all of them spooked running for cover,best to carefully wade into a position whereby a clean cast can be taken and allowed to run the current without dragging.
Always cast slightly upstream of a rise trout see through a 45 degree coned window and rise upward and forward to meet food items drifting toward them.

Casting directly into a rise rarely connects as the fly is actually behind the fish out of view.

Stalking and careful wading as close to the fish as confidence allows enables shorter more controlled and accurate casts to be made but take it easy or they will be spooked diving for the nearest cover at which point it will take some time before the same fish venture out into open water again.

Losing sight of where an individual fish rises is easily done,in this situation have a little patience and wait until he rises to a natural offering giving away his position.

Water low and clear fish moving to the fly but not prepared to take ?

Drop a fly size or better still fish a dry fly on a dropper with an emerger on the point.

The dry fly will act as a drift and sight indicator and will not sink with the second fly fishing below.Should the surface fly hesitate,stop or do anything other than expected a fish has taken the emerger fishing sub surface.Experiment with various combinations of dry flies and nymphs fished as described above when fishing is particularly slow or fish are simply being stubborn.

Fishing faster water,riffles and runs.

It is difficult on any given day to work out exactly where fish may be lying in rough or fast water.In this situation it is necessary to simply search the water.

Choice of fly would be to the bigger hook sizes fishing a ' stimulator or attractor fly ' such as Hoppers,Caddiss and such like casting to the rear of surface and subsurface rocks,under overhanging vegetation,small pockets of calmer water or deeper between boulders in fact anywhere that may favour trout.Many assume that if there are no fish rising there is no point in fishing dry fly at that particular moment until such times as there is a hatch or fish moving.

Not So !

Dry fly can be successfully fished blind under these conditions in fact dry flies will bring fish to the surface even if there is no hatch or during a hatch even if using flies that are not particular to the emerging fly life.

Striking ..simply strike immediately there is any movement or displacement of water at the fly.


Few of today's modern fly fisherman will not be  familiar with the term ' Buzzer ' and most immediately associate buzzers with stillwater fishing for brown and rainbow trout.Buzzers do however have their place in both River and Stillwater.

What exactly is a buzzer ?

These are imitative patterns of the larval stage of chironomids – ie: midge pupae,most commonly known are the mud dwelling red bloodworm which hatch into midges.Typical hook sizes range in general between 12 and 14 and sparsely dressed to imitate it's natural counterpart.Midges are abundant and hatch the year through providing a regular source of sustenance for feeding trout,found in great numbers over stillwater most buzzer patterns were originally tied with the stillwater angler in mind.However browns feed freely on buzzers in rivers too.

How to recognise trout feeding on buzzers.

A little observation is required here,the scenario described has been witnessed by us all at some time or another but not actually recognised.

What we are looking for is basically surface disturbance from fish searching out buzzers mid water.Surface disturbance in the form of a series of ' Boils ' not the type associated with trout sucking in a dry fly which is more of a  ' swirl ' but a displacement of water resulting in a ' Bulge '  as it were.The first and most prominent ' bulge ' normally denotes where the trout is actually lying up,as he turns across the stream and begins his quest in search of pre-hatch buzzers mid to sub surface.Traversing across the current in a straight line from bank to bank whether it be a river or stillwater fish.As the fish travels directly across the stream or loch a trail of several smaller ' bulges ' result in the observant angler being able to predict the trout's feeding zone,estimate depth,direction of and frequency of travel.Drawing a line in one's mind's eye between the points allows the angler to target the feeding zone with Buzzer patterns such as Shipman's Buzzer orange / olive or Spider patterns.

Light and colour are of prime importance to trout feeding on buzzers.

Natural UV light does affect feeding patterns,below is a list intended as a guide only to some successful patterns.

Scarlet ...Very effective at dawn, dusk or dull days

Orange & Yellow … Best on bright days

Green … Coloured water and bad light

Luminous Buzzer .. Best 1 hour before dawn and deadly 1 hour before dusk

Flash Attack & Silver Flashback … Use anytime of day

How to fish buzzers.

 'Dead Drift '

As the title implies dead drifting is simply a matter of making the cast [ floating line ] allowing the wind or breeze or push the line and fly along if there is no breeze a very slow figure of eight retrieve will suffice.

As the breeze or manual retrieve plays on the line the buzzer rises and falls in the water just below the surface in a natural manner,the gently drifting into an arc as it swings around the wind.

' Team of three '

Fishing a team of three flies is probably the most common method adopted fishing at three differing levels..

Top Dropper...a light bulkier dressed buzzer.

Middle Dropper...a slightly heavier buzzer

Point..epoxy buzzer or those tied on heavy irons.

The beauty of this set up lies in the action of the point fly which not only fishes but acts as an anchor holding the others under the surface and helping to pull the rig round the wind.

' Washing Line '

This is a slightly different set up but at times deadly method of taking trout.

The point fly is a bushy buoyant dry fly with the top / middle droppers suspended off the cast fishing sub – surface.

The droppers can be buzzer / nymph combinations or simply two buzzers.

' Bung -Strike Indicators '

When a trout takes a buzzer or a nymph there is little indication that the trout has taken any interest in the fly at all ! So gentle is the take with only the very the slightest movement of line,concentration is the name of the game.Calm conditions are ideal for implementing the use of ' Bungs or Strike Indicators ' Not only do they suspend the buzzer / nymph at any pre determined depth but can be easily adjusted to suit any depth in a matter of seconds without having to break the cast down.The slightest movement is registered by the indicator and a hook up imminent.

' Greased Leader '

To fish the greased leader method requires a great deal concentration and excellent eyesight... ! Tie on a level leader of some 15-18 feet and to this attach a heavy buzzer.Cast as best you can and concentrate on the point where the line enters the water creating a permanent dimple.Should the line dip an immediate strike is in order.

General set up

Floating line.

Leader is 12-18 feet,often upto 25 feet in length.

Dropper sits 6-8 feet/2 metres from the point fly.

Top fly sits 6-8 feet/2 metres from that.

You need 6-8 inches/15-20 centimetres of mono pointing downwards for attaching the droppers.

Sink the droppers with fuller's earth and washing up liquid if they will not go down Keep the rod point low to the water and follow the arc of the fly line round with the rod tip to ensure direct contact between angler and fly.



Thinking about streamer fly fishing the first two thoughts I would have are reservoir rainbows with big lures or fishing the wilderness of the America's and Canada.Streamer fishing in our British rivers is not a method that many utilise or at least not to it's full advantages.Often these are bigger than the norm as far as flies go based on the theory that these big flies better described as lures will entice big trout.That said ..it does not necessary follow that the biggest of flies catch the biggest trout.Any fish / fry patterns tied on larger irons will suffice keeping the size of fly in relation to the water being fished and weight of fish expected.

Most streamers are tied to depict fish type creatures but others such as Leeches,Big Stonefly,Crayfish patterns and suchlike all produce the goods too.Heavily palmered Wooly Buggar flies and Sculpin / Bullhead minnow type fly lures are extremely productive.Takes are often hard visible and fast particularly when fishing upstream.

Some of the great advantages of streamer fishing are.

  • A lot of water can be covered increasing the chances of a hook up,casting the fly in to every likely looking holding lye seeking out aggressive trout.
  • Best fished on a rising water streamers will be taken as the water clouds up with silt deposits.
  • Will take in dirty water when other flies are ignored.

Perhaps their success lies with fry and prey fish that are pushed from their usual haunts and hiding places by the pressure of rising water being picked off by eager hungry trout.

They can of course be fished at any height or in any condition,least productive time would be at the height of the afternoon sunshine when the light is bright and harsh.Allowing any prospective taking trout the opportunity to examine the fly before giving chase,many simply ignore the fly until such times as the light of the day begins to dull with the onset of late afternoon into dusk.

  • The way to  round this is simply to try a smaller pattern.
  • Early morning in to the early afternoon is also worth fishing out too.

The golden rule still applies..

  • Dull Day – Dull Fly.
  • Bright Day -Bright fly.

Actual colours are not particularly important however many anglers over extensive beats and localised stretches of our waterways swear that one colour over-rides and out fishes another.Not a bad idea to follow any local advice given

How To Fish Streamer Flies.

  • Straight across the stream retrieved in slow 6 inch pulls.

[ Much the same as a Collie Dog Salmon fly ]

  • Rate of retrieve can be varied if fishing or slow or fish are shy.

  • Across and downstream 45 degrees traditional wet fly cast with an upstream line mend allowing the streamer to take it's natural course swinging round in the current unaided.
  • Upstream as a regular dry fly on a dead drift.

Upstream fast retrieve which works well in the slower deeper glides where wet or dry fly faces difficulties in the respect of little if any movement to otherwise keep a team wet or single dry on the move.

  • A streamer fly can in these conditions also be ripped through any deep holes,undercut banks etc.

The same principles as upstream spinning or worming..Fishing a bait to lying fish but allowing only a brief glimpse of the bait or lure as it passes directly overhead.A moment of opportunity - turn onto the prey and fill the belly or ignore the offering and go hungry ! Takes are often hard and close in to the anglers feet as many fish will at times follow right in to shallow margins before away .

  • Fish that '  boil ' at the streamer but do not connect .. the boil is created when a big trout swirls at the small bait fish [ in this case fly ] with the intention of ' stunning  ' it before turning on to and taking it properly.
  • Given that the water is available - on the boil retrieve slowly or even better still in a haphazard and erratic manner retrieve the lure slowly and hang on !

Streamer fly fishing is a well known big fish method however as previously mentioned there is no guarantee as to the size of fish you will catch on this exiting method of fly fishing.Brown Trout,Rainbow Trout,Sea Trout and Salmon [ Particularly under conditions of low water ] can all be taken on this method.When all else fails why not give it a little time .. it may just be the difference between a blank and success.

Other flies ..

  • Baby Dolls.
  • Roach Fry.
  • Leech,
  • Dahlberg Diver.
  • Epoxy minnows.
  • Jersey Herd.
  • Polystickle.
  • Stonefly ( large pattern ).

All these will fish streamer style and certainly worth a try ..tight lines.



No matter what weather conditions we experience in the coming summer months water levels will drop,temperatures rise and fish suffering from lethargy will prove to be unwilling and stubborn to take a bait.But all is not lost …

The 'Upstream Worm ' is highly successful under such conditions,rarely practised today this method has accounted for countless numbers of quality trout and salmon too.As with all disciplines of fishing it is an art that has to be mastered,once honed and finely tuned the rewards are very satisfying.

Okay so what do we need ?

  • Lightweight 6-7 foot spinning rod.
  • Fixed spool reel loaded with 3lb breaking strain monofilament.
  • Swivel.
  • Two hook pennell or three hook stewart tackle.
  • Hook sizes 8-10 and 12's.
  • Small split shot.
  • Supply of worms.

Pennell tackle for small to medium baits and Stewart tackle for larger baits and lob worms.

Tie on a small swivel to the end of the main line,attach a trace of 3lb mono' 12 to 18 inches in length finally tie on a pennell tackle.The longer the trace the higher the bait will sit in the water levels.Only use a split shot if required to sink the bait or add a little distance to the cast.Secure the worm onto all the hooks.Ensure the reel is fully loaded with line for ease of casting ,a little daunting for many - fishing a worm without weight is easily flicked out or cast with a little practice bearing in mind that distance's not priority presentation and stealthy wading is the name of the game.

Starting at the tail end of a pool or run carefully wade in a short distance and gently cast the worm directly upstream to your front.Hold the rod about the 10 o'clock position and retrieve only fast enough to take up any slack and keep in contact with the bait as it drifts back toward you.

Every knock,obstruction and even the softest takes will be felt as the bait trundles over the river bed in shallow water.Feel a snag ? Simply lift the rod tip to 12'o'clock and most times the bait will roll over the obstruction.Should the bait suddenly stop and you are confident that it not an obstruction ….Pull the rod to the shoulder in order to set the hook.

Likewise fishing sub surface or just off bottom.Move two steps upstream after three or four cast searching the water or casting into known lyes .It is important to ensure that casts are directly to your front and not deviating to either side.

The theory behind this method is thus..

By casting directly upstream the bait will travel subsurface drifting within the fish's window of sight.As the worm nears the trout a quick decision has to made .. let a meal pass by or take ! The worm is drifting in a natural fashion and as the fish rises upward and forward taking on the turn back to his lye normally the hook sets itself within the mouth area.Therefore a heavy strike is not necessary,lifting the rod to the shoulder will suffice.

In general takes are hard and fast as the fish has little if any time to inspect the bait before feeding.Successful for both salmon and trout many other species are often picked up on this method which can be employed to target specific fish or simply fished blind to search the water.The advantages are such that water otherwise difficult to fish with a lure or fly can be accessed,under overhanging vegetation,undercut banks,in bright sunshine and turbulent water between rocky shallows.

The angler too gains immense knowledge of the river bed and differing water flows bankside which is of great importance and noted for future reference.

Pennell and Stewart tackles are easily and quickly constructed.

Pennell / Stewart tackles.

Tie on a size 8 hook to a length of nylon to this add a free running no 8 hook.

Secure the free running hook 2-2 ½ inches from the lowermost hook by taking a couple of turns of nylon round the shank of the free running hook and whipping the hook shank to the nylon cast.Two or three coats of fly tying varnish over the whipping complete the rig.Distances between the two hooks can be varied accordingly and modified with a third hook to construct a Stewart tackle.Increase the hook sizes if intending to fish for salmon by this method still keeping to smaller hook sizes relevant to the chosen size of bait...

Hook size is relative to bait size and type not size/weight of fish to be expected.

Make a Free Website with Yola.