Drag: The enemy of the chalk stream dry fly angler.
With the trout season just weeks away, and the rivers holding a good amount of water, we are confident that this season is going to be one to remember. With that in mind we thought it would be a good idea to think about what you can do this season to increase your catch rates.
Drag is the enemy of the fly angler, admittedly yes a big daddy longlegs stripped through the surface can be a killer. However, for those of us who like to fish slightly smaller and more delicate flies even the slightest drag can be the difference between the weary trout taking your fly or not. Below are my 5 top tips for reducing drag and catching more fish.
Tip 1: Cast shorter
We all like to test our casting abilities and show off from time to time, but the reality is that the further you cast the more fly line is on the water and the more your flies are going to drag. Particularly if you casting across the river, where different currents will pull your fly all over the place, and all the mending in the world wont stop your flies dragging. By keeping your casts short and accurate, you can keep your rod tip high, keeping as much line off the water as possible. This does require a little more stealth, but it will allow you to be more accurate and will give you the ability to present your fly in a significantly more natural way.
Tip 2: Use a longer leader
I mentioned in tip 1 that the more fly line you have on the water the more drag you will have. By using a longer leader (which has a thinner diameter than fly line) you will have less surface area on the water, therefor creating less drag.
Tip 3: Be accurate
Try and keep your casts as accurate as possible, if you are casting too far above the fish it is likely that by the time your fly reaches the fish’s line of sight your fly will be dragging and the fish wont bite. Try and land your fly about a foot upstream of the fish.
Tip 4: Keep your fly line floating.
This may sounds like a strange tip, as one always uses a floating fly line for dry fly fishing. However, a fly line with a year or so under its belt, will normally start to sink at the tip, and if the tip sinks your fly will start dragging immediately and you will also find that you are having to dry your fly more often as it gets dragged under water. The solution is simple, use some mucilin and apply it to the tip of your fly line and the first 2 feet of your leader, and keep re applying throughout the day. If this doesn't work, then its probably time to buy a new fly line!
Tip 5: keep in touch.
When casting upstream, particularly at distance, it is paramount that you retrieve your line, matching the speed of the current. By doing this you are ensuring two things, the first is that when a fish does take your fly you have no slack line to pick up and can set the hook straight away, and secondly you will reduce drag. As soon as there is fly line down stream of the tip of your fly rod your fly is dragging, you may not see visible drag on the fly, but I promise it is!
I hope these tips come in handy this season, if you follow just one then let it be the first, by casting shorter distances you will be more accurate and have significantly less drag on your fly, and I promise it will significantly increase your catch rate!