It’s that time of year again! The post-mayfly blues will have set in, and for many anglers, we’re now into the “hardest” part of the season. The hatches get later and later in the day, and the bugs often get smaller and smaller. Here in Derbyshire on the river Wye midsummer can be notoriously difficult, but by following a few simple rules and having the right pattern in your box, it’s possible to have your best day of the season! Here are my top five tips for mid summer dry fly fishing…
1. Fish late on in the day: When my guided clients ask me what time we’re going to meet at the start of a session, at this time of year my reply is usually “what’s the latest you can finish, and lets work back from there!”. The very best of the summer dry fly fishing is going to be an hour prior to and an hour after sunset. Granted, these are anti-social hours, but to give yourself the very best chance of topwater takes you’ll want to be on the water in the evening.
2. Know your pools: This advice could be applicable to any type of fly fishing, but when you’re talking about fishing into dusk, knowing how the flow of the river moves around in your chosen pool is vital for avoiding drag. I tend not to move position once the light has fully gone, trusting I know the current lines well enough to be able to fish effectively.
3. Fish fine: Following on from the issues of drag, I find it vital during a spinner fall to fish as fine as we can get away with. I’ll commonly rig up with 0.12 fluorocarbon tippet, and lots of it, which will help to avoid those nasty unnatural presentations. Remember, when we’re imitating tiny Blue Winged Olive spinners we’re imitating something which is dead, or very close to, and the fish know this. They rarely rise to anything other than a totally drag free drift – the key to summer dry fly fishing!
4. STRIKE! On a recent trip, I was stood fishing a pool in almost total darkness. The river appeared sinuous and inky on the surface, and while I knew where I was casting I certainly couldn’t see my fly. Mid-drift, I noticed a movement in the surface of water which was unfamiliar from the rest of the time I had been in the water, so I struck – the result being a fine wild rainbow and the biggest fish of the day! I certainly hadn’t “seen” rise in a classic way, the water just moved differently. Often this can be as much as you get – take the opportunity!
5. Have the right flies: I only use a few patterns during the Blue Winged Olive spinner fall these days, but I know that they work almost wherever I fish in the UK. If you’re going to be fishing a spinner fall this summer you’ll need:
Lapsley’s Spinner: This is my total go-to spinner pattern, and what a pattern it is. The late Mr Lapsley sure knew a thing or two about how to imitate olives, and this little beauty is my favourite spinner pattern. Sparsely dressed and quite small, they can be hard to see on the water and they require regular dressing, but nothing rises fish for me like this pattern can.
Apricot Spinner: Another great pattern, very minimal in its dressing, other than that brighter post. The smaller size does a great job in slightly more disturbed water, and the post, of course, makes it easier to spot in low light. Don’t forget to pinch off that barb!
Foam Dun: You might be surprised to find a dun pattern in amongst a spinner fall selection, but this pattern rises fish for me well early in the fall. I think the narrow, straight body and minimal dressing gives a fantastic silhouette, and the foam keeps the body flat in the surface film. Another total essential in the sz17 version. It’s also an excellent pattern to have in your box all year round, not just for summer dry fly fishing.
Minnikin’s Paradun: Stu Minnikin knows what it takes to make a great pattern, and his Paradun in the smaller sizes is a great combo fly for both the hatch and fall. The split tails imitate the tails of a BWO beautifully, and thanks to its parachute hackle it’s a reliably buoyant option.
Championship Caddis: I bet you weren’t expecting this one! As the spinner fall tails off you’ll have a situation where every fishing in the river is looking up to feed, and having fed hard for a few hours will be feeling very safe and confident. Now is the time to throw that caddis, either dead drift or skated, or even just apply small amounts of movement during the drift. At this time of day you probably won’t see the takes, but you’ll definitely hear them. If you can, now is a good time to step up in the tippet a little, try some 6x or even 5x, it’s a big fly for a big fish!
I hope this has provided you with a little more information about how to fish “the dog days of summer”. It can be tough during the daylight hours but those who are willing to stay on the water until late, and who can get natural drifts with the patterns I highlighted should find improved results. Summer dry fly fishing is just something else!
Tightlines to you all!