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Dry Flies or Wet Flies

by Rob R.
(Wichita Falls, TX )

Since starting this Tenkara journey I have caught many fish carp, bass, sunfish, bluegill and of course many trout. In regards to the flies, I have caught fish using dry flies but I have caught many more fish using wet flies, in particular nymphs. One of the things I quickly noticed in Minnesota was I would spot fish surface feeding and there were obvious insect hatches occurring at the time. I had a variety of flies in various sizes so I was trying to match the size of fly to the hatch. Nothing was happening. I got fed up with that approach. I switched to a bead head nymph and cast to the surface feeding trout and guess what? Started catching fish. The two most successful flies I used were Ishigaki Kebari and the bead head nymph. What does this mean? It means I don't worry about whatever is hatching. I won't waste my time watching for the hatch, searching the flies and retrying. Now I just keep the fly in the water. Seems to catch more fish.

Comments for Dry Flies or Wet Flies

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Jul 17, 2015
I've had a similar experience
by: Chris Stewart

The best hatch I've ever experienced was one evening in Montana, fishing with my dad. I was just starting to learn nymph fishing so I wanted to stay with a nymph even though my dad was catching fish left and right on a dry. I ended up catching just as many as he did.

Jul 17, 2015
Go dry!
by: Doug )

To me using a nymph when a dry fly works is like bringing a bag from McDonalds to a gourmet dinner. There is just nothing like watching them come up an hit the surface. I'll fish for 6 inchers all day with a dry but would get bored nymphing. A Tenkara rod is great for drys, because the don't get dragged around and soaked.

You don't often need to match the hatch. A dry Purple Haze will often work for a hatch which has no resemblance to the fly. I picked up 20 trout a few days ago, all on a dry purple haze, and loved watching them come up and get after it.

Jul 17, 2015
Go double-threat!
by: Martin Weaver

Me, I believe in the "double-threat" theory. Unless the water is very fast I will use a size 12 dry and a nymph below it. I use an elk hair caddis, simulator, foam caddis or some other large dry fly and hang a size 14, 16 or 18 nymph below it. I try to determine the depth of the water and hang the nymph close to the bottom below the dry fly. The nymphs I usually use are based on the Teeny nymph, traditional pheasant tail or a variation of the "Killer Bug". My catch rate is 80/20; 80% of the time I catch a fish on the nymph.

Jul 18, 2015
by: Bruce Norikane

I'm dry like Doug.

Don't have to match the hatch, I fish attractor dry flies all summer long. Generic parachutes, beetles, ants, trudes, etc...

Love watching the rise and take.


Jul 18, 2015
If there's a hatch, there are active nymphs
by: Jeff D

In order for a hatch to occur, nymphs/pupae must come to the surface. I imagine that for every rise we see on the surface, a corresponding or greater number of ascending nymphs/pupae get eaten in the water column.

I think kebaris are "buggy" looking and therefore can pass as a nymph, a pupa, or an emerger.

Jul 19, 2015
by: John Laudenslager

For me, nothing can surpass the beauty of a surface take, except actually catching fish. Whether it's bluegill or trout, in twenty years I have nowhere seen a majority of a day when there was more rising than not. To get fish to rise to take when they are not already rising is hard. There is a reason why the international fishing competitors carry and sometimes use dries, but far more often use and win with weighed wets. John L.

Jul 27, 2015
by: Roger

Dries when possible, I like spent caddis or Iris caddis in Amber. Great searching patterns. The Clown Shoe Caddis in green is another favorite.
A parachute with something like a Shop Vac or Brassie dropper is also very effective.

I like those surface takes but will go wet when necessary. Last week wets just weren't doing it and I switch to an Amber Spent Caddis and it was many fish on for the remainder of the day.

Aug 28, 2015
Wets to mid-season, Dries in Summer
by: Herb S.

In Michigan's medium to large trout streams I fish 90% wets and nymphs until mid summer when the trout start looking up for terrestrials. Dry flies are great most of the time (but not always!) on small, shallow streams where hungry trout have a good view of the surface.

Since the late 1970's when I started fly tying and fishing wets I've also discovered that stream bluegills are more prone to hitting sub-surface flies during days of bright sun and go for dries/sponge spiders/poppers best with overcast and early and late in the day. That goes double for smallmouth bass.

A great thread! It all depends on where and when.

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“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” - Benjamin Franklin

"Be sure in casting, that your fly fall first into the water, for if the line fall first, it scares or frightens the fish..." -
Col. Robert Venables 1662

As age slows my pace, I will become more like the heron.


The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.

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