Wet Fly Fishing on Small or Medium Streams

by Fly Fisherman

In wet fly fishing on small or medium streams the line should always float and the leader should be submerged along with the fly, if possible. In fact the connecting knot of leader to line should cut the surface and be visible to the angler. On larger waters many fishermen use a heavy line, undressed, to purposely get it down. The depth of the water and its rate of speed would otherwise preclude your placing the fly near the bottom where the fish are. A deliberately weighted fly or weights on your leader should be avoided wherever possible in downstream fishing. Natural movements of the lure are next to impossible when hampered by unnatural weighting. When you consider it absolutely necessary to add a shot or two to get your lure down, secure it to the leader, at least, eighteen inches from the fly. Two or three feet is better. Clamp the shot directly on the leader or make a small loop and drop the shot from a fine snell, three or four inches in length.

If it is your wish to secure a shot or a few turns of fine lead wire directly on your leader and if that leader is of the knotless variety, do not make an overhand knot to hold the weight from sliding down. If your tippet knot is too far away, or you’re not using a tippet, it is best to cut the leader at the point you wish the weight and retie it with a barrel or blood knot. The overhand knot reduces the strength of the leader too greatly to risk it. In all cases use the minimum weight necessary to accomplish the action.

Wet fly leaders used in clear low water should be long, at least nine feet and longer is better, and tipped with a fairly fine gut or nylon: 5X-(.006) and 4X-(.007) tippets are not too fine and they should be from three to four feet long, at least. On heavier, rougher waters, roily or semi-roily water, when limiting your fishing to larger fish, or for evening and night fishing, the leader can be shorter, if you want it that way, and heavier. The tippet, in most cases, should not exceed, however, 2X- (.009) or X- (.010) in diameter under the worst conditions.
Suggested standard wet flies, and sizes, that usually are effective in most waters and pretty general throughout the
season. This could be a list to start on until you have determined your own favorites.

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