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Sorting out wet and dry flies

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I am new to fly fishing and wonder if you can explain the difference between wet and dry flies and how to tell the difference when they are mixed up. Michael Beckett

Essentially, dry flies are designed to be fished dry so that they float on the surface of the water, whereas wet flies are fished wet and under the surface ie in the water. Dry flies are fished to imitate flies that have hatched and are floating on the surface. Wet flies represent flies that are on the way to the surface to hatch, known as nymphs, or even small fish, shrimps, snails and other forms of underwater food.

The following points will help you to tell the two sorts apart:

1. Traditionally dry flies were always tied on up-eyed hooks and wet flies with down-eyed hooks. But this is not always the case as today more and more dry flies are tied on hooks with down eyes.

2. Because the are designed to float, dry flies are usually lightly dressed, have longer tails than wet flies and stiff, bushy hackles. Dry flies are tied using feathers from cock birds which are stiffer than the hackles from hen birds normally used for wet flies. Wet flies have short tails, less hackle, swept-back wings and often have bodies made from tinsel or with tinsel or wire ribbings. Note that some dry flies may also have fine, light wire ribs. Weighted wet flies will also feel heavier than dry flies.

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