"All first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and John,
the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”
There are in my opinion two religions when it comes to fly fishing. Are you a dry fly fisherman or are you a nymph fisherman? Some people claim to be both but in my experience you are truly one or the other. Sure a dry fly fisherman fishes with nymphs occasionally but it is usually just to see how the other half lives and vice versa. I fish both nymphs and drys, but I am a dry fly fisherman. I am better at it and I enjoy it more. For those that don't know what that means, it means the fly you are fishing with floats on top of the water imitating an insect that has just hatched or has returned to the water to lay its eggs. While there is no doubt in my mind the nymphers catch more fish, they don't have the same level of connection with the trout that us dry fly fisherman have.
For me fly fishing with a dry fly is magical. Watching the cast from start to finish, the loop unfurling behind you while you change rod direction to start the line, leader, and fly moving in the forward direction, to the very moment when that forward loop unfurls in front of you and the fly gently lands on the river and starts the drift. All the while making sure the drift is perfect, by mending and watching and mending some more. The fly getting to the end of the drift and starting the process all over again, but maybe this time altering the length of cast or the lane for which you want the fly to drift.
I am lucky because I fish a river essentially in my back yard that is one of the best dry fly rivers in the United States. The trout in the Pan are "usually" looking up and looking for insects on the surface so hence the excellent dry fly river. Of course the trout in the Pan can mess with you as well, and since I think they are starting to know me, they are starting to mess with me on a daily basis. Thus the game begins.
As I have said before, just being out on the water is the reward, but having a fish on the end of my line is a gift. While there is nothing better than catching a trout on a fly, as a dry fly fisherman there is something else that is almost and is sometimes more exciting than the catch, what is that you ask? It is what we call the refusal. The Pan is a beautiful river, healthy and gin clear. Therefore with some practice you can see the fish in their lanes waiting for meals to drift by, whether underneath the water or floating on top of it. And with that you can watch how they react to your dry fly. Tonight I fished for about 2 hours, I caught 2 fish but I had about 12 of the best refusals ever. This for me leads to some very exciting not catching anything! I cast my fly out and make sure the drift is as natural as I can make it, I watch my fly drift over fish and I watch them turn and start to rise for my fly and at the last minute they turn and swim back down, that my friends is a refusal, sometimes they can be very dramatic with splashes or they can be very subtle. But it is always awesome. Because the minute you see that fish turn you know you have about a 50/50 chance. Is he going to eat it or isn't he. My hand tightens and I get ready to set the hook and then he swims away, dang it! But man that was cool. This cat and mouse game is what makes dry fly fishing so exciting. When you can see the fish turn showing interest in your fly and actually eat it and turn back to head down to the bottom with what it thinks is a prize insect, there is nothing better. But at the same time the refusal of a dry fly is just as exciting, because for me it makes me think, was I doing something wrong? What did that fish see that made him think twice? This to me is why fly fishing is a beautiful sport. There is so much to it. You really do have to out smart that fish. Fish have tiny tiny brains, but it amazing to me to see their instinct take over. They turn, follow and then decide something just isn't right with that insect floating there and they head back to their spot. It is truly a beautiful dance between man and beast.
“...it is not fly fishing if you are not looking for answers to questions.”