- Beer = Nymph
- Wine = Dry
- Whiskey = Streamer
Folks have different taste and some are more appropriate depending on the occasion. With drink or fly they are all a means to the same end. It took me a while to educate my palate, but here are some steps which helped me (fishing not drinking).
Nymph with a Sighter – It may sound like an odd starting point, but learn how to nymph fish with a sighter built into the leader. It will get you more comfortable casting without an indicator and it’s easier to switch to a dry (I’ve used taking off an indicator as an excuse) when a hatch comes off.
Double Dry – When you’re ready to take the next step snip off the nymph for another dry (if you need a step in between try an emerger or wet fly). Again I recommend something with plenty of float and/or high visibility. A Puterbaugh caddis is a great example. Hopefully by now you caught a couple of fish on the hopper which takes the place of your nymph as a confidence fly. You’ll start to notice some differences in casting without the extra weight. It will take a while to create the muscle memory to cast a dry correctly. Cast a little slower letting the rod load in the back cast. Fishing dries also makes you more mindful of the presentation and drift. You can’t mend your way out of a bad cast as easily as you can with a nymph.
Tried and True – When you’re ready to make the full conversion don’t get creative with your fly selection. Like wine you’ll develop a taste for what you like, but for now stick to proven patterns; Adam’s, Wulff’s, elk hair caddis etc. and especially those are high floating. If you’re noticing a theme you’re perceptive. Anglers who pride themselves on getting a nymph to sink quickly will drive themselves crazy trying to keep a fly floating. I wouldn’t pick a size 20 BWO to begin my dry fly journey. Attractor patterns are also a good starting point. They typically ride high, imitate a variety of insects and are easy to see.
Leave the Nymphs at Home – I’m likely to fish the same nymph 30 minutes longer than I should, but switch dries after only a few casts. It’s too easy to fall back into your comfort zone when they are only a box away. If you can’t resist the urge to chuck weight, then leave them at home. You’ll figure out more about fishing dries in one exclusive outing than with all the other tips combine.
Fishing a dry fly is a lot of fun and will certainly make you a better situational angler. I still struggle committing to the switch at times, but when I swap the bead head for elk hair and get a take on a rising fish it reminds me why I should do it just as often. I believe different methods of fishing are mutually beneficial. Casting a dry makes me more conscious of nymph/streamer presentation and not just chuck and duck. Remember, it probably took a while to figure out the nymph game try to have the same patients with a dry. If all else fails you can always fall back on your favorite beer at the end of the day…