8 Dry Fly Fishing Tips to Use This Fall

By Debbie Hanson

Oct 03, 2018

List of fall dry fly fishing tips for beginning fly anglers. Including how to fish dry flies, dry fly fishing techniques, dry fly fishing set up, more

If you haven't yet experienced the enjoyment of dry fly fishing, fall can be a good time to get out and try it. While the insect hatches that generally take place during fall may not compare to the more intense hatches of the spring or early summer months, dry flies continue to bring fish to the surface to feed. As an added bonus, most streams are much less crowded during this time of year.

Once you watch a trout take your fly on the surface for the very first time, you'll understand why fly anglers often favor dry fly techniques. You can learn how to fish dry flies with a bit of practice and a few simple tips.

  1. Observe the insects that float past you to match the hatch. Take a few extra minutes to identify the insects in the trees or in the air, or try to catch a few. When surveying the flies in your box, select one that most closely resembles the insects you see around the stream.
  2. Learn dry fly fishing techniques (also referred to as surface techniques) like the reach cast and the parachute cast.
  3. Learn which situations call for longer leaders. For example, when fishing dry flies on flat, clear, or low rivers and streams. In instances like these, you may need as much as 15-feet of leader. For example, a dry fly fishing set up for trout might consist of a 4-weight rod, floating fly line, and 12 to 15-foot leader when the water is calm and clear.
  4. One of the most important dry fly fishing tips is to remember to take a second to inspect your fly after each cast. Check to see if the wings or appendages on your fly have rotated out of position or if any of the materials are damaged. You might be surprised at how often this can happen, and it can definitely make the difference between a take and an ignored fly.
  5. Use floatant to keep your flies from absorbing water. Floatant comes in a few different forms (paste, liquid, gel), but they all work best when applied to a fly that is completely dry.
  6. Remember that a drag-free drift is one of the keys to success when dry fly fishing. Try to land your fly several feet ahead of the fish, and the let it drift toward the fish. You don't want to spook the fish with a smack of the fly directly on it’s head. Land upstream of the fish and, as you mend your line, your fly will have a natural presentation as it floats its way down.
  7. When learning how to fish dry flies, take time to refresh your knowledge of insect movement. By doing so, you'll know when to apply a dead (motionless drift) and when to give your line an occasional tiny tug for subtle action.
  8. Note how the trout responds to your fly. If he sticks up his nose and sucks it in, lift your rod, set the hook, and bring the fish in. If the trout refuses a fly that floats directly over him without any drag, it's likely time to change flies or change your fly fishing tactics.

Now that you have a few tips to apply when dry fly fishing, find a few local streams and grab your fly box. The trout are waiting! If you don’t have yet your fishing license, you can get it online.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.