There are many methods and approaches you can use when you step out on the river to fly fish and each method has its purpose. Nymphing generally will produce high numbers, stripping streamers will find that big one, and euro-nymphing, well it is a fancy way of saying high-sticking. BUT if you ask some of us there is little that gets us more excited than seeing that belly roll of a trout on a dry fly. There will be some that read this and say, “No way, my favorite is any way that catches fish” and they won’t be wrong…well at least not entirely. And there will be a few that say spey fishing swinging streamers is their favorite and to those, I tip my sun-bleached hat to, I hope to be as cool as you one day.
It is not lost on us how lucky we are to be surrounded by some of the best streams and rivers that offer many dry fly opportunities. The western United States is not only known for its vast and wondrous landscapes but also for being home to some of the best dry fly fishing in the world!
Idaho, more specifically, oh man, we have Silver Creek and its brown drake hatch, Henry’s Fork and South Fork with their salmonfly hatches, the Henry’s Fork Green Drake hatch, grey drakes on the Teton River, and the South Fork of the Boise River–just to name a few.
The search for the right fly
You finally find a rising fish! There are a few pmd’s coming off, caddis, you saw a couple of drakes and a goldenstone, so what is going to make this fish eat? You sit back, watch it feed for a few minutes and you decide to tie on a rusty spinner to a pmd no ass. You do your best to time your cast perfectly, you hope that when you just mended your line you didn’t spook the fish, the rusty goes by first then the pmd, you are squinty your eyes watching intently and then you see the fish do a big middle finger to you.
This is when the real fun starts. The thrill of watching the fish, figuring out what fly is going work, trying again and again, and hopefully ending up with a fish on! It is such a rush and brings immense satisfaction.
On several occasions I have spent upwards of 2 hours watching and casting to a rising fish. There is something so captivating about witnessing all the action on the surface and learning from your failures. In those moments, I am not thinking about anything else going on in life other than this fish and even better, I am not on or even near my phone. It is refreshing. Whether I am successful or not, after those experiences I walk away with new perspective.
No matter how many times you catch a fish on a dry fly, it is never enough and it never loses its “that was freaking cool” feeling. To me, dry fly fishing can be one of the most straightforward methods. Regardless of what your preferred method of fly fishing is when you are on the river, just being out there seems like a gift.