Present a Natural Looking Dry Fly
I use Gink when top-of-the-water fishing. The fish come up to the fly but seem to know it isn’t real and turn away. Can the fish smell Gink or is the presentation of my fly the problem?
Paul Procter replies: There might be a number of reasons why trout are continually turning away from your dry flies. But first let’s look at the issue of whether fish, or more importantly, trout possibly smell Gink and other floatants
Many fish use smell as a means to locate potential food. For instance, a huge part of a carp’s brain is highly developed to deal with the senses of smell, which they mainly rely upon to locate food in murky water. However, trout hunt primarily by sight, and the major part of their brain consists of the optic lobe with less emphasis on smell.
Trout do occasionally use smell to detect food, but this is more relevant when fishing static baits. Because flyfishing usually involves a retrieved fly, trout have no time to smell the offering and instead rely on sight before seizing the fly. Even with static dry flies, trout aren’t in the habit of swimming up to sniff your fly before accepting!
The main reason trout refuse dry flies is poor presentation. It’s vital the fly behaves as naturally as possible when presented motionless at the surface. Some floatants can leave an oily slick around a fly, which is certain to deter trout, so remove excess floatant before casting to a rise.
Heavy tippet materials or the tippet remaining on the surface close to the fly may also alert trout that all is not well. Use the copolymer types of leader material like Orvis Superstrong or Frog Hair in 5lb (4X) to 6lb (3X) breaking stain. With a fine diameter and being quite supple, they allow dry flies a degree of natural movement
Equally, get in the habit of degreasing the last couple of feet of leader nearest the fly with Fuller’s earth. This allows the final length to slip beneath the surface rather than betraying its presence lying across the water. Finally, study the insects the trout are feeding on and try to make your fly behave like them. Terrestrials falling onto the surface barely move, and this should be echoed in any imitations. Conversely, adult sedges often skitter across the water, calling for a dry fly that moves.
Reprinted with permission of Trout Fisherman magazine.