Small Water Dry Fly Fishing Tips
Simon Robinson is what we class a Still Water expert. He’s proved his ability on both bank and boat over and over again, and who better to give us mere mortals small water dry fly fishing tips?
At this time of year anglers can have great sport with dry flies on small stillwaters particularly on cloudy days or during evening sessions. On catch and release fisheries there are often large numbers of fish which have been caught and released and have therefore wised up to lures and larger nymphs, it’s places like this you can find some of the most challenging fishing. At this time of year, to tackle these waters with dry flies you need to approach the situation correctly. Below are my 6 Small Water Dry Fly Fishing Tips at this time of year.
Small Water Dry Fly Fishing Tips
1) Fish light: Educated fish will usually be feeding on small natural insects such as small 29olives, midges and terrestrials and these are usually a size 16 or smaller. To match these food items you need to fish small patterns on fine leaders and to do this you need to use a light, balance outfit. The normal 10ft 7 or 8 weight rods and lines are just too heavy to fish light leaders, so I usually opt for a 6 or even 5 weight rod and line. If you do not have a light stillwater outfit try your river kit, it may not be able to cast long distances but it will allow you to fish with the small flies and protect the light leaders that you need to fool tricky fish.
2) Pay attention to your leader: Small flies and educated fish demand fine leaders, particularly in calm conditions. You need to be fishing a leader in the region of 0.14- 0.12 mm diameter. I prefer co-polymer when fishing light and I am currently using Fulling Mill Xtra Co-polymer in 6X which despite being very thin is capable of fooling and landing resident fish from heavily pressures small waters.
Fine leaders need to be tapered to achieve turnover, long lengths of level fine tippet simply do not work in anything other than a back wind. I use a 9ft tapered leader and add a copolymer tippet of around 4- 5ft. Finally, make sure that you de- grease the tippet, Fullers Mud is ideal for this. Resident fish will often ignore a fly with a floating leader yet it is amazing how often you will get a take first cast after de-greasing the tippet in flat water.
3) Fly selection: Whilst I always believe presentation is more important that the exact fly pattern it is very important when dry fly fishing for educated fish that you choose your pattern carefully. Try to choose a pattern which either closely represents the naturals the fish are feeding on or at least imitates a food item which the fish are likely to take if they do come across it. An example of a good general pattern would be a small caddis, terrestrial or olive pattern which, whilst not likely to be on the water in large numbers, are often taken readily if they do appear on the water.
Try to make sure you have a good selection available then observe which naturals are on the water. If you are unable to identify the food items change patterns until you find one the fish are willing to take.
Flies from the following categories will work all through the season, having a selection of each will definitely help you put more fish in your net.
4) Treat your flies well: Whilst most dry flies perform well ‘straight out of the box’ you will need to treat them well if you intent to keep using them for a full session, particularly if you’re catching fish!
Depending on which fly you are using you may need to carry different products. CDC patterns do not need any treatment other than to make sure they are fully dry. This is due to the fact that CDC gets it buoyancy from the structure of the fibres themselves.
Flies which relay on yarn, hackle, seals fur and deer all benefit from the addition of a floatant. The best floatant for these flies is a gel type floatant as it absorbed by the fibres. It is important to choose a floatant which does not leave an oily slick as some do.
I have been using the fulling mill products on recent trips and have been using the FM High Glide powder to dry CDC patterns and FM Dry Sauce gel for other patterns. Both have performed very well and I have had no issues continuing to fish with the same fly after catching a fish provided I take a few moments to restore them.
5) Keep your eyes open: It sounds obvious but be observant! Look for areas of the lake where fish are likely to be feeding on the surface such as sheltered bays or upwind banks and look closely for subtle rise forms which can sometimes go unnoticed, particularly in a ripple.
Observe the water surface for any clues to insect life available to the fish. Can you see small terrestrial flies on the water? Are they buzzer shucks indicating midge are hatching? These small clues can really make the difference in choosing the correct fly and catching fish.
Finally observe the rise forms if the fish are splashing it would indicate a larger mobile food item such as caddis where as a slow gentle rise form usually means that fish are taking smaller items or insects which are trapped in or just under the surface film.
6) Cover fish correctly: Covering fish correctly is a very important part of fishing dries, if you can place your fly in the path of a cruising fish it is far more likely to be taken than if you just cast out and hope for a fish to find the fly. This tactic can work in a ripple but it is rarely effective for difficult fish in calm conditions. If there are lots of fish moving it is usually worth targeting individual fish as the will be cruising close to the surface and are unlikely to see your fly, unless it is directly in their cruising path.
Casting into the path of a fish puts your fly right where it needs to be and maximises your chances. If you are covering moving fish try to see which direction they are travelling and set the trap in their path, if you can make a cast so that fish see’s the fly before the leader it is a massive advantage and often makes the difference between a confident take and a refusal.
I hope these small water dry fly fishing tips help your dry fly fishing, it’s a very exciting and visual way of fishing and on its day can out fish all other methods, producing some stunning resident fish! Small Water Dry Fly Fishing Tips Small Water Dry Fly Fishing Tips Small Water Dry Fly Fishing Tips