prospecting with dry fly

darkwatchet

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I was on holiday in Devon a couple of weeks ago and fished the Little Dart a couple of evenings when it wasn't too high (how I wish that was at the bottom of MY garden!). I managed to catch 9 trout (best about 11") with a Mayfly pattern , even though there were no fish to be seen rising at all. I chose the pattern because I did happen to see a small yellow Mayfly flutter by.
Now I have had little faith in 'prospecting' up till now, but that has changed somewhat - though Mayfly is obviously not THE pattern to see me through the rest of the season.
So I was wondering which fly. easy to tie, might fellow 'forumites' suggest for this purpose, bearing in mind that I fish small 'country' rivers in Yorkshire and small 'urban' ones in Lancashire.
Do you use just one or two different patterns through the season, or more?
Will the same patterns do for both?
Clearly we are not talking of 'matching the hatch' here, 'cos there isn't one, so is it a 'generic' form? or something with a 'hotspot'? or something entirely different? :confused:

David
 

guest70

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I think you need look no further than the following three patterns which all excel in bringing opportunistic trout up from their lies:

1. Balloon caddis
2. Biggish klink
3. Wyatt's DHE

The latter of those has performed exceptionally well for me this season on the Ribble and Cumbrian Eden systems.

M
 

darkwatchet

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Industrial Lancashire - 'God's country'
I think you need look no further than the following three patterns which all excel in bringing opportunistic trout up from their lies:

1. Balloon caddis
2. Biggish klink
3. Wyatt's DHE

The latter of those has performed exceptionally well for me this season on the Ribble and Cumbrian Eden systems.

M
Thanks a lot, very interesting. Your answer then seems to be 'profile', depending on your answer to this:
which tying of a Balloon Caddis would that be then?
for there seems to be a definite leaning, on stillwaters at least, to a 'hotspot' type.

David
 

BRUCE1

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I think you need look no further than the following three patterns which all excel in bringing opportunistic trout up from their lies:

1. Balloon caddis
2. Biggish klink
3. Wyatt's DHE

The latter of those has performed exceptionally well for me this season on the Ribble and Cumbrian Eden systems.

M
i would add a Elk hair caddis to that ,as it always does well for me ..
 

guest70

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Thanks a lot, very interesting. Your answer then seems to be 'profile', depending on your answer to this:
which tying of a Balloon Caddis would that be then?
for there seems to be a definite leaning, on stillwaters at least, to a 'hotspot' type.

David
Profile for me David, definitely. If you are trying to tempt a trout up which is not actively on the fin and feeding at the surface, then you need to satisfy two criteria in my view:

1. The fly needs to be of sufficient size to make the expenditure of energy worthwhile - hence a good-ish sized, meaty profile.
2. The fly needs to present an impression of vulnerability - ie it isn't going to suddenly take flight as the fish is on its way up. So the curved hook, sunk abdomen profile excels in this department (which is, seeing as you ask, how I tie my balloons). The fish sees a good sized insect, stuck fast in the meniscus, and thinks "right, that's gotta be worth a few seconds of fin-work!"

That's my theory anyways. It works well on some rivers I fish (Eamont, Ribble, Ure), less so on others (notably the Eden); for reasons I haven't fathomed. If I find the latter, I just change to prospecting nymph methods when the fish aren't showing. That usually does the trick.


....and George and Bruce are right, the elk hair caddis is another one worth a float - similar in profile to the balloon, although I personally prefer the latter as its nice bulbous thorax adds a bit more 'meat' to the pattern when searching blind.

Matt
 

jada0406

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HI', As usual, Matt's comments make a lot of sense. When the Eden and tributaries were well endowed with the ranunculus which is sadly missed in many areas, prospecting with a dry fly could produce trout like magic, on days when there was very little or no sign of surface activity. The weed channel prospecting, 'fishing blind', my old mates and I called it, was practised by us at any time of day, and in my case, through the night.
Daytime choice of flies in the early days, about 1963 onwards, we ( a very tiny minority) used mainly hackled seasonal patters, always with tails, irrespective of the original design in some cases. When asked by those who had not seen the method, I used to tell them that my theory was very simple -- at some time during the day, a trout would probably be on the lookout for something to eat off the top, and it might as well be my dry fly.;) Not long after becoming more proficient at exploiting weeds and shade areas, I found that, as Matt suggests, giving them a 'good gobful' was a good idea. After all, no emergence of aquatic flies, no fall of terrestrials, no fear of pre-occupation with the seasonal 'what-have-yous', so you might as well try something pretty visible to both you and the fish.
I also feel that moving shadows on the river bed can alert a fish to a fly overhead just as they can to a badly placed line or a shadow cast by a predator, human, animal or bird, between the channel and the sun; and a sedge pattern makes a bigger shadow than a midge. It's a very simple approach, but it worked for one or two of my friends and I for many seasons, and still does where weed can be found. It is not a method for open water at low river levels.
The night prospecting was done using local patterns like Blanchard's Abortion, a sedge pattern, or my personal favourites, 'Shave-Belly Sedges'. They are multi-turn palmered sedges that have all the belly whiskers trimmed off to expose the hook for better contact. They also float very well, and the first essential with dry fly after dark is, you have to know that the fly is floating. You can't see it most of the time. Second essential, a short leader, with a strong tippet, as you will be fishing at very short range at times, and you need as much fly line out as possible. My standard rig was, and will always be:-- 9ft 5-wt Sharpe's Scottie built cane rod, number 2 double-taper silk line. With the casting arm extended, line and leader taut, the point fly reached my chest. Seven yards, near enough, and just enough line to make the rod work.
Method:-- if a rise was seen, it was approached very carefully to a stance just short of seven yards from the fish. The fly was dropped a foot beyond the fish. After landing the fish, the length of line was determined by extending the rod and reeling in or feeding line by pulling it forward off the reel until the system from casting hand to rod tip to line hand at the chest was once again taut, and measuring about seven yards. If a fish rose about two yards up the channel or up the pool, you took two good paces and a bit, and you were on station. With trout going for sedges, hatching or spent, you could fish by ear, but often a blink of reflection could be discerned. Knowing exactly where the fly was, and keeping to your familiar length of line,made a difficult job a whole lot easier, with less guess work.
The palmered sedges were tied on either size 14 long shank or medium size 12
hooks. 'Blanchard's Abortion' ( may feature in a new book on flies, by Malcolm Greenhalgh). is tied cruciform style, that is a cock hackle wound back from the eye, a little way down the body, with a good strong tail, and a tuft of hackle barbs extending over the eye. Sort of tail back and front. It certainly helps to 'float the boat'. Hackles and tails usually ginger to game red sort of shades, body pheasant tail or what ever you prefer. We never see them for sale these days, but theyused to be very popular for summer outings, day as well as evening on the Eden system.
Phew, that was a lot longer than intended. Hope it makes sense. Jada
PS Point fly was tied on 4lb b/s nylon. We didn't like losing trout in the weeds, although we did find that waiting a while often resulted in Tom Trout coming out, backwards, unaided, and it was more gentlemanly than a tug-of-war..
 

guest70

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HI', As usual, Matt's comments make a lot of sense. When the Eden and tributaries were well endowed with the ranunculus which is sadly missed in many areas, prospecting with a dry fly could produce trout like magic, on days when there was very little or no sign of surface activity. The weed channel prospecting, 'fishing blind', my old mates and I called it, was practised by us at any time of day, and in my case, through the night.
Daytime choice of flies in the early days, about 1963 onwards, we ( a very tiny minority) used mainly hackled seasonal patters, always with tails, irrespective of the original design in some cases. When asked by those who had not seen the method, I used to tell them that my theory was very simple -- at some time during the day, a trout would probably be on the lookout for something to eat off the top, and it might as well be my dry fly.;) Not long after becoming more proficient at exploiting weeds and shade areas, I found that, as Matt suggests, giving them a 'good gobful' was a good idea. After all, no emergence of aquatic flies, no fall of terrestrials, no fear of pre-occupation with the seasonal 'what-have-yous', so you might as well try something pretty visible to both you and the fish.
I also feel that moving shadows on the river bed can alert a fish to a fly overhead just as they can to a badly placed line or a shadow cast by a predator, human, animal or bird, between the channel and the sun; and a sedge pattern makes a bigger shadow than a midge. It's a very simple approach, but it worked for one or two of my friends and I for many seasons, and still does where weed can be found. It is not a method for open water at low river levels.
The night prospecting was done using local patterns like Blanchard's Abortion, a sedge pattern, or my personal favourites, 'Shave-Belly Sedges'. They are multi-turn palmered sedges that have all the belly whiskers trimmed off to expose the hook for better contact. They also float very well, and the first essential with dry fly after dark is, you have to know that the fly is floating. You can't see it most of the time. Second essential, a short leader, with a strong tippet, as you will be fishing at very short range at times, and you need as much fly line out as possible. My standard rig was, and will always be:-- 9ft 5-wt Sharpe's Scottie built cane rod, number 2 double-taper silk line. With the casting arm extended, line and leader taut, the point fly reached my chest. Seven yards, near enough, and just enough line to make the rod work.
Method:-- if a rise was seen, it was approached very carefully to a stance just short of seven yards from the fish. The fly was dropped a foot beyond the fish. After landing the fish, the length of line was determined by extending the rod and reeling in or feeding line by pulling it forward off the reel until the system from casting hand to rod tip to line hand at the chest was once again taut, and measuring about seven yards. If a fish rose about two yards up the channel or up the pool, you took two good paces and a bit, and you were on station. With trout going for sedges, hatching or spent, you could fish by ear, but often a blink of reflection could be discerned. Knowing exactly where the fly was, and keeping to your familiar length of line,made a difficult job a whole lot easier, with less guess work.
The palmered sedges were tied on either size 14 long shank or medium size 12
hooks. 'Blanchard's Abortion' ( may feature in a new book on flies, by Malcolm Greenhalgh). is tied cruciform style, that is a cock hackle wound back from the eye, a little way down the body, with a good strong tail, and a tuft of hackle barbs extending over the eye. Sort of tail back and front. It certainly helps to 'float the boat'. Hackles and tails usually ginger to game red sort of shades, body pheasant tail or what ever you prefer. We never see them for sale these days, but theyused to be very popular for summer outings, day as well as evening on the Eden system.
Phew, that was a lot longer than intended. Hope it makes sense. Jada
PS Point fly was tied on 4lb b/s nylon. We didn't like losing trout in the weeds, although we did find that waiting a while often resulted in Tom Trout coming out, backwards, unaided, and it was more gentlemanly than a tug-of-war..
Fascinating account there Terry, and wise words for anyone (like me!) who struggles to fish dry fly in the dark - a proper system. Even wiser words for those who think that getting within 15 yds of a rising fish is near enough -something I see all the time!

M
 

jada0406

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Hi', All. first, my apologies for such a long read; my only excuses being that I still have all the enthusiasm of an expectant beginner for the sport; I stll love learning and I enjoy helping people to surpass my modest efforts by their excelling to a level that I can't reach. So many that I have helped are now better than I can ever be, and that is what encourages me. The fishing was better when I was at the bottom of the learning curve, so more successful days were assured in some areas, but there wasn't the help around that we see today, and I enjoy being a tiny part of that which is available.
Thanks, Matt, and may I say that of the many anglers I have met over the years, few appear to have matched you for enthusiasm, willingness and ability to learn, and a natural talent for the sport. You are an adventurer with an enquiring and receptive mind; and that is an enviable combination.
To get back to night fishing, most was practised on flats, often in weed channels. I forgot to say that if a fish moved a yard or two left or right of one just caught, a pace or two left or right, a little adjustment for range by slight move up or down the flat, and the standard, familiar length of line and leader put the fly on target. If it all sounds too easy, it wasn't, but knowing the water intimately, and sticking to the short line pretty rigidly made it easier than struggling in broad daylight, under unremitting sunshine, in low water.
Daylight prospecting, in the absence of an emergence of flies or absence of rising fish, was by no means restricted to fishing weed channels and pockets. They were, simply, the most reliable 'arenas' most of the time, because they were usually genuine hot spots during the trout season. They had all that the trout needed:-- comfort, which meant aeration and an easy lie where they were not butting a flow; shelter from the sun and strong flows; protection and cover from predators, and often the proximity of a feeding lane. Obviously, the best were the broad channels through which the main flow or flows ran, as they usually carried the better concentrations of floating fare.
On stretches of water which were short on weed coverage, boulders, ledges, trailing branches, waterlogged trees etc, anything which was in or near a good flow, but which offered cover and good aeration, could provide all or most of what a trout desired in order to thrive. Even the apparently barren-looking eyesores -- gabion groynes and man-made walls flanking streams ---
could attract a surprising number of trout fairly relaibly. If there was a current seam to exploit, with a line of foam sliding along it, you were in with a chance. Where the foam and debris goeth, there goeth the edibles.
Speaking of foam, while rafts of the stuff, building up like dirty puff pastry in eddies and backwaters, may not look attractive to us, and while fishing them can make your line, leader and fly mucky, do not ignore them. Those who have fished the Eden Lacy water on the Eden will have seen the big raft of foam that occurs on the left bank, downstream of the wier or falls. will know that some good trout often accumulate there. If you sit and watch such rafts, patiently, you may see their surface dusturbed by bulges, and occasionally a nose makes a clear patch. These fish usually feed confidently; they are under good cover, and usually they are not too fussy about the fly you offer. This is an exaple of a spot where Matt's bigger fly approach can work very well; but sometimes, the myriad midges that are absorbed in the foam are what the fish want. It's good fun finding out.
I shouldn't promote work that I have done, that sounds like conceit, but a flick through 'Reading Rivers, Tracing Trout' might help those who don't have the knowledge or experience of people like Matt or MrTrout, Steven, who both have intimate knowledge of the upper Eden water from Crackenthorpe village to Temple Sowerby, in particular, just to name an area that most visitors to the Eden valley might know.
That's enough, Cousin, get out and do something instead of ****** well writing about it, I hear you say.:) Jada. TC
 
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darkwatchet

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Thanks all so far, very illuminating, I'm almost 'overwhelmed' bu not quite.
I have already tied up a few (takes me ages) of some of the flies recommended and might get chance to give them a try this week.
It might be difficult, but I intend to ignore any rising fish I might see and fish only where there appear to be none. In fact, having just given it some serious thought(about 2 secs) I've decided to abandon that idea.

I look forward to more on this subject,

David
 

Mostyn

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I was on holiday in Devon a couple of weeks ago and fished the Little Dart a couple of evenings when it wasn't too high (how I wish that was at the bottom of MY garden!). I managed to catch 9 trout (best about 11") with a Mayfly pattern , even though there were no fish to be seen rising at all. I chose the pattern because I did happen to see a small yellow Mayfly flutter by.
Now I have had little faith in 'prospecting' up till now, but that has changed somewhat - though Mayfly is obviously not THE pattern to see me through the rest of the season.
So I was wondering which fly. easy to tie, might fellow 'forumites' suggest for this purpose, bearing in mind that I fish small 'country' rivers in Yorkshire and small 'urban' ones in Lancashire.
Do you use just one or two different patterns through the season, or more?
Will the same patterns do for both?
Clearly we are not talking of 'matching the hatch' here, 'cos there isn't one, so is it a 'generic' form? or something with a 'hotspot'? or something entirely different? :confused:

David
All my stream fishing is done by fishing dry or emerger patterns fished up stream. Prospecting the water - fishing dry fly is the most exciting way to fish.

Hares ear Patterns and Pheasant Tail patterns will do you for the whole season! But I always use a number of BLACK patterns and some small flies when the fish are smutting and ignoring everything except a natural that you cannot copy. I like using a Para-Dunn most of the time in a 14, and 16.
 

steeley

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limerick ireland
I was on holiday in Devon a couple of weeks ago and fished the Little Dart a couple of evenings when it wasn't too high (how I wish that was at the bottom of MY garden!). I managed to catch 9 trout (best about 11") with a Mayfly pattern , even though there were no fish to be seen rising at all. I chose the pattern because I did happen to see a small yellow Mayfly flutter by.
Now I have had little faith in 'prospecting' up till now, but that has changed somewhat - though Mayfly is obviously not THE pattern to see me through the rest of the season.
So I was wondering which fly. easy to tie, might fellow 'forumites' suggest for this purpose, bearing in mind that I fish small 'country' rivers in Yorkshire and small 'urban' ones in Lancashire.
Do you use just one or two different patterns through the season, or more?
Will the same patterns do for both?
Clearly we are not talking of 'matching the hatch' here, 'cos there isn't one, so is it a 'generic' form? or something with a 'hotspot'? or something entirely different? :confused:

David
Size 14 para adams will do the trick! The one`s tied by spidersplus are the best I`ve used
 
B

Becks and Brown Trout

Guest
On the Ure and the vale of York streams where I fish. in order:

Faster water:

Black Klinkhammer
Elk Hair Caddis

Slow runs:

IOBO humpy...


Andy
 

scottratt

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i fish the gelt and irthing and last 6 weeks have used a blue dun almost exclusively and they have been lapping it up. very rarely fails for me even if there is not much rising this has been pulling them up no problem.:)
 

walney

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Roundhay, North Leeds.
The majority of my fishing is dry/damp flyfishing and would prefer to prospect rather than resort to wet or nymphing. This is partly because I don't think I particularly good at these methods but really I love the visual nature of the the take to the dry fly. I am definitley of the school who claim a fish on the dry is worth five on the nymph.

The fly that I always go to is the DHE in 14 and 16, so easy to tie, and the Adams as the next bet. The DHE has caught me fish this season on a variety of rivers, the middle Wharfe where it is wide and flat, the upper Ure, the upper Aire and the Derbyshire Wye.

The DHE is a great fly to draw the fish up. My set up is simple, a Rod Dibble 31/2 foot furled leader and a 4 foot tippet. Prospecting makes me move slowly and use short casts as I have a tendency to rush if I see a rising fish.

I think successful prospecting is really about watercraft, reading the river for fish holding spots and stealthly covering them. Take regular breaks as your concentration can become jaded and can often result in the disappointment of a missed take.
 

jada0406

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Hi', Walney As you suggest, to be consistently successful at prospecting with a dry fly you need to be able to read rivers; you also need to be able to present a fly with all of the skill and accuracy associated with fishing the rise; but a point often overlooked -- you need to concentrate even harder when fishing a 'hot spot' or even when just wading up and making a few speculative 'shotgun' casts as you go from one likely spot to the next. Put simply, don't take your eyes off the fly while it is fishing. If somebody on the bank speaks, or something causes a distraction, ignore the speaker, but take the fly off the water once clear of where you expected a rise. Have your chat, see what caused the distraction, and then start fishing again. Prompt replies take second place to fishing. Jada
 

guest70

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The majority of my fishing is dry/damp flyfishing and would prefer to prospect rather than resort to wet or nymphing. This is partly because I don't think I particularly good at these methods but really I love the visual nature of the the take to the dry fly. I am definitley of the school who claim a fish on the dry is worth five on the nymph.
I can't agree with you on that. I would argue that the opposite is true - a fish on the nymph is worth five on the dry - from a skill level perspective (perhaps you meant from an enjoyment point of view, if so then apologies).

I do know a few guys who would rather fish the dry all the time - blind if necessary - than 'resort' to nymph, but I believe they are missing a trick and more importantly missing out on an opportunity to improve themselves as anglers....and to learn things about their river which perhaps they didn't know before. There is nothing difficult about nymphing properly (please don't anyone try to claim the duo is nymphing), it just needs practice, line control and a bit more thought into the reading of the water than necessitated by dry fly. Granted, it can never match the dry fly for the sheer excitement of marking, covering and rising a big, visibly feeding fish....but to my mind, systematically relying on the dry fly fished blind when nothing's rising is just plain lazy and you will end up a severely limited angler for the rest of your days.

Of course, this is just my opinion.....many guys are happy just to podge along fishing the method which suits them each time (rather than suits the fish), an fair play to 'em. But then again I've lost count of the amount of times I've heard the same sort of angler complain that the fishing has been poor!

M
 

walney

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Roundhay, North Leeds.
Yes it certianly is about enjoyment and dry fly does it for me. I also think it's an easier method to master as it is highly visual and takes place in two dimensions and agree with you that nymphing is a more skillful method due to its three dimensional character and the subtleness of the take in many cases. Confidence in angling is a major factor in success and as I feel confident dry flyfishing and I'm sure I fish the method better.

This season my fly fishing catch rates have increased and the majority have been on dry. However a major reason is I tend to fish short stretches of river intensively and build up local knowledge of the river and its topography and as a result the fish holding spots. It was Richard Walker who said first locate your fish and then don't scare them and I feel I am reaping the reward for putting this into practice.

I also coarse fish and last season I decided to concentrate on float fishing for similar reasons for prefering dry fly, I enjoy it more, and surprisingly my catch rates also improve considerably. In coarse fishing float fishing is consider a more difficult method than legering.

I know I have fished the dry or float fished when nymphing or legering would have been the wiser method. But as my fly drifts over a known fish holding spot or my float drifts pass a overhanging willow that I know holds chub I am waiting for the fly to be taken or the float to disappear and that electric feeling when a fish is on.
 
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