The temperature is rising and the bugs (and trout) are starting to get active. Spring is one of the best times of the year for fly fishermen. For most of the country, trout are moving out of “winter lockjaw” and into spring feeding mode. While you can certainly catch trout over winter (assuming you are in a mild climate) with nymphs bounced along the bottom, this is really the first time in months that the fish are looking up. For example, here in north Georgia trout have been hitting stoneflies for a few weeks, while just a few miles south at one of the major tailwaters, it’s about time for caddis and maybe some blue winged olives.
Unfortunately, the bugs that are hatching are going to be incredible geography dependent. I can’t begin to explain what dry flies will be working on your home water at any given time, but luckily I don’t have to. Our match the hatch subscription will do it for you. I can share a few tips that will improve your spring dry fly action across the board.
For starters, make sure you have the gear to succeed. That means a good floating line, some leaders (9′ in 5x, maybe longer and thinner if you are fishing small dries), and various forms of floatant. I like to carry a tube of the paste style floatant, as well as a jar of shake powder. My go-to rod is usually either a 10′ 3wt on big water, or a 7′ 6″ 3wt on small streams. A 9′ 4wt or 5wt will cover almost all of your dry fly needs.
Next, you need to understand how to keep your dry fly…well…dry. Treat the fly with floatant before it gets wet, making sure to work it into the hackle, dubbing, and wing material (unless the fly has CDC. If you don’t know if the fly is tied with CDC, it probably isn’t). As the fly absorbs water, a few false casts will dry it out. Over time though it will become water logged, and you will have to treat it again. First pinch the wings and hackle, squeezing any water out. Then drop it in your shake powder for a few seconds, and treat the dried fly with floatant again.
Last, and most importantly, make sure you are getting a good drift. Drag on your fly will cause it to pull under the surface and begin soaking up water. It also significantly reduces the likelihood that you catch a fish. Most of the insects trout feed on at the surface are either dying, laying eggs, or shedding their nymphal shuck. Other than some caddis skittering across the surface (which you will plainly see), those insects are drifting helplessly with the current. Your fly should do the same.
And of course, make sure you have the right pattern for the waters you are fishing. You can do that by signing up for our Match the Hatch Subscription. Tight Lines!