The dry fly fishing technique is often the first that the beginner tries to acquire. In many situations it is no longer the most productive technique in France due to the evolution of rivers and fish behavior, but for many it still provides incomparable emotion when you literally see the fish violently seize the fly that you presented to him and watch your eyes: few have forgotten their first dry fly catch, especially if it was a beautiful fish!
We won't be talking about gear here that's been covered in other blogs, just how to start riverside fishing.
The essential points for dry fly fishing are:
- -choice of river and fishing day
- the choice of the precise place where to fish
- the choice of the fly
- approach and positioning in relation to the fish
- the casting of the fly and its control until it hits a fish
- hooking and retrieving fish.
We will detail these few essential points. They all depend on the type of fish sought: we will mainly take the case of trout as an example but obviously it is necessary to adapt it to the habitat and the particular behavior of each type of fish.
Where and when to fish?
You are therefore looking to fish for a fish with a dry fly It is obviously essential to choose a species that feeds on insects on the surface and a portion of the river where this species is very present. For trout, in France, these are the so-called 1st category rivers, which are generally the tops of the basins: small rivers flowing into larger ones, or the beginning of the course of large rivers (like the Ardèche for example). The maps of the rivers published in the annual guide of each departmental federation will allow you to identify them.
Choosing among all these rivers can be complicated. My advice is to start with a river near you, where you can go fishing often and get to know it well.
Choose at the beginning an accessible area, not too crowded by vegetation and of relatively shallow water depth at the time when you fish: it is often necessary to enter the water and depth and current increase the difficulty and the danger . An area alternating over a few hundred meters of large flats and small currents is perfect.
When to go fishing? You may go fishing at the opening or during your holidays. This is not necessarily the best time to start dry fly fishing. At the start of the season, the waters are strong and tinted, hatching flies are rare and the trout do not always feed much on the surface. If you want to try your luck anyway, try in good weather during the hottest hours of the day in a river that does not carry snowmelt water (look at the mountain weather forecast and where the source is!). From April to June, is probably the best time in France to fish PALM at any time of the day. In summer, with the heat and the lack of oxygen, prefer fishing in a shaded area, in the morning or in the evening and in the currents.
Also consider reservoirs that allow the beginner to train in often easier conditions.
Choosing where to fish
Who hasn't known a great moment of loneliness by finding themselves with their cane in front of a river and not knowing where to approach it?
In dry fly fishing two basic possibilities are available to you:
- either fishing gobages : this is the best known. You look to see if gobages take place: discreet or stronger quivering on the surface generating concentric circles. Once you have spotted a gobage, you will try to bring the fly right on it if the gobage is repetitive in the same place or around the gobages seen if the fish moves gobage after gobage. It is often a more or less repetitive circuit and one can hope that the fish will come back after a few minutes on a previous gobage.
- either " fishing for water ": or more precisely the posts . In the absence of gobages, it is possible to fish in places where one imagines that a fish can be active. This is often easier in small rivers than in large rivers: around hiding places such as rocks or trees, banks, in currents that bring food. Prefer currents to large calm areas, especially when starting out, you will greatly improve your chances of catching a fish.
Which fly to choose?
The choice of fly is important especially in calm waters. In fast waters the fish has less time to observe the fly and must decide very quickly. Nevertheless a "plausible" fly must be chosen.
A knowledge of the types of insects ( entomology ) specific to the area being fished can greatly help as well as the observation of the natural flies present on the surface of the water, in the air, on the vegetation and under the water (larvae). It can be acquired in books like " The entomological guide for fly fishermen " but also by discussion with other fishermen, especially in clubs and by personal experience.
When a type of insect is present and seems to be appreciated by trout, it is obviously preferable to offer a similar imitation. To do this, it is advisable to build a box of flies with some variations (in size and brightness of the types of insects that may be present in your fishing area.
In the absence of precise information and in particular if no insects are visible, group flies representing various types of flies but no particular insects can be used. We offer a beginner fly box consisting of mostly flies of this type.
Note that it is generally advisable to use dark colors in good weather and lighter colors in overcast weather.
Once a fly works, stick with it and consider using it again when conditions seem similar.
The approach and positioning in relation to the fish
The approach and positioning in relation to the post you want to fish are very important and depend on the type of fish. For trout, which is extremely wary, a very discreet approach is necessary, especially in very clear waters. Trout that are active and looking for insects are most often positioned facing the current to have a good view of the food that is coming. It is therefore easier to approach it from downstream by launching upstream. shoeing conditions are also better.
You have to try to conceal yourself as well as possible: sun at your back, use rocks and vegetation, avoid vibrations in the water.
You should get as close as possible. Why not fish from afar? because your casts will be less precise and above all you will have trouble ensuring that the drift of your fly is natural in the presence of current. Most of the catches are made at less than 10m, sometimes under the rod!
Fly casting and its control
We will not develop throwing techniques here, which are the subject of entire books and where practical learning is essential. For dry PALM, the goal is to land the fly precisely and discreetly at the chosen location. In classic casting, 1 or 2 false casts will allow you to adjust the distance if necessary and the last cast before should drop the fly gently into the water.
On a classic positioning of the fisherman downstream of the trout, the target point will be a little upstream of the trout in the current which will naturally bring the fly to the place of the gobage (or to the position where you think that a trout). This drift must be done naturally, at the speed of the current, otherwise it is likely that the trout will refuse your fly. Unfortunately your line, placed in the water, will tend to drag the fly, to make it dredge at a speed and in a direction different from those desired, all the more so if the line passes in a different current from that of the fly. A long rig, proper positioning of the line at the end of the cast and techniques for replacing the line after the cast will allow you to limit this problem. The fly must pass precisely over the target position to within a few centimeters, the trout will not move!
Hooking and retrieving fish
That's it, you've hit a fish! It remains to bring it back. A good strike at the moment of the bite is essential: sometimes the trout strikes alone but we cannot always count on it. It is therefore essential to stay focused and ready to strike even after many unsuccessful casts. The line should not be too slack at the moment of the bite: so remember to gradually recover the line by hand or with a reel during the drift. The dosage is essential because too tight a line accentuates dragging on the other hand.
Once hooked, you have to keep in contact with the fish, which means keeping the line and the BDL always taut to limit the possibility of unhooking, especially if you are fishing with barbless or crushed barb flies, which is recommended to avoid injury. the fish you will release (at least those smaller than the authorized mesh) and compulsory in no-kill.
In PALM the progressive recovery of the line is often done by pulling with the left hand (for a right-handed person) and by blocking the line on the rod with the index finger of the right hand to reposition the left hand higher on the line. The maintenance of the tension is linked to this action of the two hands and to the position of the rod rather high. For larger fish the use of the reel can become useful and a good brake limits the risk of breakage of the BDL during the rush of the fish. You have to keep in mind that you tire a good grip more quickly by pulling it laterally in one direction then in the other (it must struggle while swimming constantly) rather than by holding a very high rod. If you practice no-kill, use a not too fine tip and shorten the recovery time so as not to exhaust the fish.
Finally, a fine mesh landing net, preferably black, will allow you to finish your catch. In no kill avoid taking the fish out of the water (photo in the landing net rather than fish stretched out at arm's length) and touching it if possible: a disgorger is necessary to gently remove the fly. If the fly is too entangled, don't hesitate to break the line and leave the fly in the fish's mouth, it will get rid of it on its own and its chances of survival are much better than with a long hurtful handling.
I hope to have given you some elements to begin in PALM with the dry fly. They are obviously brief and you will develop your own convictions and your experience at the water's edge!