I Suck At Dry Flies

I suck at tying and fishing dry flies. If you want a nymph, I can fix you up. Soft hackle? No problem. But if it is a dry fly, you can forget it.

Dry flies are congruent, poised, and angelic. Nymphs and soft hackles are chaotic, archaic, and wild. Perhaps this speaks volumes about me.

A dry fly is pretty much predictable. It floats, with a few exceptions can only be fished one way, and represents the end game. Maybe that is why I have never been much of a dry fly angler. It requires a level of grace that I dream of but never quite achieve. Its movement across the water, barely dimpling the surface film, is a ballet of sorts. Nymphs/ soft hackles are always working under the surface. You can only guess what is going on, and the predictability of its meanderings down the river is purely conjecture. You can dead drift it, swing it, strip it, but in the end you have only limit control and you have to watch your line very carefully because anything could happen at any time.

Dry flies dance to Mozart, George Winston. Nymphs and soft hackles dance to Coletrane, Muddy Waters, and The Allman Brothers. And while I am making this comparison, it should be noted that streamers dance to anything that would be found in a mosh pit, college frat house, or sleazy strip joint.

I do not like streamer fishing. Perhaps it is just a little more aggressive than my style will permit.  These flies, monstrous looking piles of fur and flash with hooks just come across as menacing.  The unhidden splash they make as they find the water only to by yanked back to the rod tip.  To be certain, if you want big fish, or if you want to cover a lot of water, streamers are the way to go.  But for me…it’s just not my style.  If I wanted to fish like that I would hang up my fly rod and throw jerk baits with a spinning rod.

I have fished Dries, and on some occasions I have fished them exclusively with much success, yet the whole time I felt like a kid in a new suit for Easter.  I just never can seem to settle into the comfortable rhythm or pace of the dance.  I have friends who, when fishing with a dry fly, look as if they were part of a painting by Michelangelo.  I watch them and think to myself…”There can be no other way for this man to fish…he has reached perfection.”

I guess at the end of the day, I am a nymph/ soft hackle guy who hopes someday to have the grace to be a dry fly guy.

But then don’t we all?

Grace is a pursuit that we may touch, but will never fully achieve. It is the point where all the poor mechanics and technique are put aside. Grace is a gift. One we don’t deserve in our fallen state. But with a little help, we may find ourselves granted its music. And then we not only dance, we fly…..

2 thoughts on “I Suck At Dry Flies”

  1. WOW finally I find I am not alone in the world. I hate streamer fishing but do it, dont care for dry fly but do it,I am an underwater trout guy that believes trout feed 90% of the time subsurface.I will never stand around waiting for a hatch but dont have a problem with those that do.It’s just not my “thing” but I use them when the hatch is on.Dry dropper makes things much more palatable LOL

  2. I love this article, excellent humor and insight. I always thought streamer fishing was far more efficient with Rapalas and spinning rods too, but keeping true to fly fishing, I stick to the deer hair and bunny fur…..but like you, I don’t really like it. I love fishing soft hackles, virtually the only technique I use during the winter months. However, come summertime, dry fly fishing is what I live for….may I suggest other forms of fishing dries for your “wild nature”, namely hoppers. No grace needed to fish these big hunks of foam, splash them down hard, twitch and wiggle them, even pull them under the surface, doesn’t matter, big fish love ’em. It’s not match the hatch technical spring creek type stuff here, it’s primal. I’ve personally seem fish bolt 12 feet across a pool to slam a hopper, it’s a heart pounding thrill that I never grow tired of.

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