WET FLY AND STREAMER FISHING

by Fly Fisherman

An old-fashioned, not quite so sporting method in fishing of using two and three flies on a “cast,” attached by snells to the main leader, is fast losing favor. It actually went out with the snelled flies. There are, however, still some anglers who insist that it’s quite the proper procedure. There are still anglers, too, who demand snelled flies for no reason except that it is the kind they used last year and the season before and also in 1910.

The triple or the double fly “cast,” for one thing, is an easier mode of fishing in that the additional weight on the leader does not require the exacting skill needed for the more modern single fly “cast.” In actual fishing the multiple fly fishing takes just a bit of advantage of the fish and heaven knows the fair thing is to render him just a bit of that advantage. Why should we take it all? My last word on the difference between these two ways of fishing wet flies is that, all conditions being equal, I’d wager my lucky fishing hat against an old brittle gut leader that the single fly fisherman, with only a moderate amount of skill and a moderately fair presentation, will take as many if not more fish than the old method and he won’t have to sneak the extra flies off his leader before he enters camp. He has no reason for being just a little ashamed.

Now if the angler, maybe not to his admissible knowledge, has a lack of skill in casting (I’ve seen published pictures of so-called experts in action and their rod, on the back cast, was approaching the horizontal behind him—need I say more?) or a decided lack of knowledge of fish habits and stream characteristics, then I say may he use whatever procedure he desires to possibly equalize, in his opinion, his chances with others. Enough of this, let’s get on to fishing wet flies.

Wet flies are generally fished with the current, however, fishing upstream can be highly effective. The most common maneuver is where the angler casts to either side almost at a right angle (called quartering) and permitting the fly to drift down with the current until directly centered in the stream to the limit of the line and leader. An important action to take, as your fly is drifting, is to stay with it, pointing towards the lure with your rod tip, releasing more line or retrieving it as necessary. It is best at all times to have your line just short of the point of being taut without hampering the natural movement or drift of your fly or nymph. This is not the easiest way in the world to fish but the procedures of value to you, the real “know how” of trout fishing, the little things that mean the big difference in superior fishing “luck,” are all on the difficult side. Any fisherman can do things the easy way and most of them follow that course most of the time.

Some anglers release more line, if fishing downstream, permitting the fly to drift with the water’s flow a few feet more before the retrieve is made. The retrieve itself is sometimes a jiggling done with the rod tip as the line is stripped in—or in foot long jerks by pulling line in with the left hand and by reeling in or by coiling in the hand as retrieved—or by skittering the fly gently over the surface as the line comes in —or by recovering line by the hand-twist where line is looped over the fingers of the left hand as the hand is twisted to gather it in—or by palming line which is a most effective practice.

This latter is accomplished by holding the line with the first and second fingers, then the third and fourth fingers reach up and grasp the line packing it in the palm under those fingers. The hand is swung to and fro in an oscillating fashion as the line is regained and palmed. The line can be then cast and the loops released without difficulty, through the guides, as needed. This is an efficient process for regaining line, used with streamers and nymphs also. The handtwist retrieve is just slightly different.

The line is held between your thumb and index finger in a normal position. Turn the hand over so that you regain a few inches of line. The hand is in a stationary position, the forearm and wrist are not moved in any direction. The thumb and index finger, with top of hand uppermost, are near the butt of your rod. In twisting the hand over, between the third and little finger, get hold of the line.

Twist this under then regrasp the line with forefinger and thumb. Keep repeating the operation until the lure is back to you ready for another cast. The excess line retrieved may be packed into your hand or looped, holding with the right hand against the rod butt, or just let drop as you collect it. Either of the above retrieve methods are used at any time but are almost a requirement when fishing in lakes or in slow water pools in streams to give the fly or streamer traveling action.

In working the wet fly one should experiment as to the depth which will bring the best results. At times you’ll fish as deep as possible, other times shallow or half way down. One good scheme is to let the fly go right to the bottom. Then jerk the rod tip upward a short distance a few times. Retrieve a foot or so of line then go through the same spasmotic jerking or twitching of the rod tip again. Follow through with this repeated action until line has all been taken up ready for another cast. Like other retrieving operations the angler should try faster and slower motions until the successful method is found.

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