Dry Fly Fishing

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With the water now cooling from the hot summer temperatures. The trout have risen into the surface layers of the water column, as a result dries have become the standout at both Draycote & Eyebrook. However, when it comes to fishing the dries there is a marked difference in the success rate. To help get the most out of fishing dries this blog will outline some of the key areas that will maximise catch rates.

At Draycote with the clouds of black buzzers behind us. The larger more colourful buzzers come out to play with large claret, red, brown and olive buzzers hatching. This teaming with the fish sitting higher in the water. Means a well-presented dry fly can often be the best way to land good quality grown on fish. It’s at this time of year where your big reds, crippled midge along with hoppers and daddies can’t be overlooked. Eyebrook offer the same high-quality sport for grown on fish in September. With the main food item on the Trout’s radar is Daddy Longlegs, along with other terrestrial insects such as beetle and ants.

When it comes to fishing dries, a drifting boat is best. When fish are feeding on the surface, they tend to cover large areas looking for the next adult buzzer or terrestrial. Therefore, drifting to cover the water produces the best results as you will cover the water more effectively and therefore cover more feeding fish during the day.

In conjunction with a drifting boat, you also want to make sure to cast short to cover the most water and therefore fish. But what is a short cast? Well its normally about 3 rod lengths of line. Personally I use a mid-tip softish rod (SAGE Pulse) and on this rod the first 30ft of the 47ft head of a RIO Gold floating line loads the rod perfectly. The reason short casting works so well is that when the fish are so high in the water, they will normally eat the flies within the first 30 seconds of the cast. So, you can short cast recasting the flies every 30 seconds meaning you won’t have to retrieve the flies. This ensures the flies are sat there static not producing drag, just like a natural insect would.

Below is a picture of a demonstration RIO Gold being fished at the correct distance for dries.

When fishing dries think of the water in front of the boat like a clock face with 12 O’clock straight out in front with 9 & 3 as the two sides (either off the bow or off the engine). You want to make sure that your flies are being worked around the clock face to cover all the angles and feeding lines of the fish. I always start at 12 O’clock of the clock face I will then cast my way round to 9 O’clock (as I am normally on the motor) and then work my way back. With every new cast I could be covering a new fish. If you were to cast longer you wouldn’t cover as many fish as effectively, because by the time you have got to the point of recasting you may have drifted the line over fish that may never have actually seen the flies. Another perfect reason for casting short and using a line that loads the rod at about 30ft is that if a fish moves a little further out that may not be coming towards the boat so moving 40ft around going right to left. Then you pick up to re-cast the rod is loaded and the extra line can easily be cast with no false casts.

When it comes down to fly selection and leader set up some general observation can help make an informed decision. Early in the morning, buzzer maybe be hatching off so CDC shuttlecocks can provide great results as they imitate a fly in the process of hatching out of its shuck.


As the day progresses and takes dry up or refusals start in the shuttlecock style it maybe be time to try my personal favourite the crippled midge. For me this pattern is the perfect pattern to use when buzzers are n the menu as it imitates a wide range of the life cycle of the hatching buzzer and just looks great on the water.

However, if it’s a day with a good ripple the profile of a foam daddy or a hopper may produce, the better results.

Leader choice and spacings will very much depend on the conditions and the day. When fishing CDC’s I will use Co-polymer as it doesn’t sink the same as fluorocarbon. As a result, the CDC flies doesn’t get pulled under the water when re-casting. Which causes the CDC to become waterlogged and requires the fly to be changing more often. My personal choice in Co-polymer is RIO Powerflex Plus 7.5lb rated at 4X. If I am fishing with standard dries such as big reds, crippled midge or hoppers in 10s & 12s, I will use RIO Fluoroflex plus 8.5lb rated 3X fluorocarbon. If I am getting swirls and need to drop down to smaller flies, then I will drop the diameters down to 4X or if they are being fussy a small size 16 single fly fished on 5X Fluoroflex Plus 5lb.



The spacings for the leader will normally depend on the rise types of the fish, if they are coming from deep in bright conditions and taking flies then the flies set a good distance apart 5-8ft depending if fishing 3 or 2 is best. However, if they are feeing high in the water then the flies want to be about 5ft apart no more as the fish have a very narrow field of view and they can easily swim between two flies’ spaces far apart.

The key for dries is to try and note the fish’s movements. By fishing the flies close to the boat you will be able to see any action to the dries with easy as well as distinguishing if the fish has eaten the fly or simply swirl at it, which is impossible at distance. As a result, the flies can easily be picked out with a quick glance back allowing you more time to scout for moving fish. I personally like to try and spot the fish moving at about 30 yards and try and monitor which way they move on there next rise. Do they come straight up the wind? Or are the moving right to left etc. If you can judge there feeding pattern, then with a short accurate cast when in range of the boat you can make sure you get your fly in front on the feeding fish. Then as long as your fly is roughly right and the leader is sunk the fly should be eaten, as I am a firm believer that it is getting the fly in front of the fish is the important bit.

My Final top tip is to make sure that you regularly degrees your leader to reduce the flash and het it to cut through the surface film. THIS WILL GET YOU MORE TAKES.

Tight Lines Tom Bird

Guiding & Tuition Manager