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It's all about the Dry Fly

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, October 11, 2017


It's Merely Matter of Time Until Devotees of Floating Hackle Will Predominate on Streams, Declares Winch.

By CAPTAIN FRANK WINCH  Famous Angler and Big Game Hunter

WORDSWORTH says that "angling is the blameless sport." Had I the temerity I would paraphrase this and term dry fly fishing as the sport superlative, for in all the recreative pleasures man will find nothing so supremely enjoyable, so persistently mystifying, so theoretically practical and so damnably scientific. 

Many writers when approaching the subject of using dry fly do so in a sort of apologetic manner, accountable, perhaps, to the fact that there seem to be but few who disregard the criticism that we are attempting iconoclasm of the older method of killing trout with the wet fly. The methods are different, both serving the same purpose, but along varied channels. There will be wet fly fishing just as long as the down streamer denies himself the trial with dry fly, and Just then the wet fly ranks are decimated to the extent of one angler. It will not be again said that Americans are the most sportive race on earth dry flying is a sporting proposition to the nth degree, and it's only a matter of time until the devotees of the floating fly will predominate on our streams.

There are some who incline to the belief that dry fly fishing is the panacea for all trouty diffidence. There are others, self-admittedly adept, who look with disdain on the wet fly and with frock-coated horror on the garden hackle. This is wrong. Dry fly fishing has its points of vantage, also its limitations; it is not the best way to get the most trout, but it is the sportiest way to get any spangled inmate of the whirling riff. Dr. George P. Holden admirably sums up the matter in this manner: "Considering all seasons, weathers and waters, both native and brown trouts, more fish will be caught on the wet than the dry fly, but the latter method is likely to take larger brown trout than native trout. It is pre-eminently the late season method and is more artistic.

"Dry flying is worthwhile; the first rise to the imitation Insect as it floats downstream in full view of the angler will give a thrill never experienced in any other manner of fishing. Endless controversial battles have been waged as to the relative merits of the dry and wet fly systems. The adherents of each are strong in their convictions. It is not, however, my intention to advocate the use of either to the exclusion of the other. Times there are when both come into play, and I concur in the views of a noted British angler who believes that the judicious and perfect application of dry. wet and midstream fly fishing stamps the angler with the hallmark of efficiency. 

It was the writer's privilege some years ago to whip the stream with the Sage of the Beaverkill, through assiduously watching this playmate of the stream as he put poetry and rhythm in his casting, to be able to learn a smattering of the art which to me should be the apex of every angler's ambition, and those of you who have yet to tackle the dry fly, will later agree that this is angling in the fullest measure of good sportsmanship.

Practice is required. Handling a dry fly cannot be taught by description; it must be seen and watched and acquired by practice. Quickness and delicacy of touch, a mastery in managing rod and line, alertness of limb, accuracy of eye and strength, with a habit of attention and observation, these are fundamentals focusing the dry fly. By this mayhap it is understood that the art is difficult; in a way it is. And yet there are but three simple rules for success. First, practice; second, practice, and third, everlastingly practice.

It should be an easy glide for the wet fly angler to slip into the dry game. I do not know of a single dry fly expert who did not do his novitiate with the wet fly. There are many books on the subject which will give the rudiments, but the learning will be done on the stream. Watcha dry fly caster, study his method sand practice. Much of the book lore is buncombe pure and simple, but there is a little volume, not so much on the dry fly, but as a stream pal,that I suggest should be In the pocket of every angler. As yet it has not been my fortune to meet the author, a pleasure only deferred, I trust I refer to Dr. George Parker Holden and his book, "Streamcraft."

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