Prospecting with Dry Flies – Fins and Feathers Bozeman
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Prospecting with Dry Flies

The season of the rise is upon us. It’s one of the most exciting aspects of fly fishing – walking around a bend and seeing an 18-inch brown trout barely break the surface as its white mouth inhales a size 16 Pale Morning Dun. If you can see the fish and know what it’s eating, you have a reasonable shot at hooking him or her.

But, even when fish aren’t actively rising, there is still a pretty good chance of getting them to opportunistically pounce on a dry fly this time of year. Prospecting with dry flies can pay dividends, especially between hatches.

Here’s an example: PMD activity has slowed in the afternoon. Fish were rising to the duns and cripples but the bugs are done hatching for the day. The fishing was good, almost easy. Finding fish was simple — follow the rise rings — and they were eating a dead-drifted comparadun.

As you continue walking upstream, you’re not seeing the rise rings or the plethora of small yellow sailboats floating downstream. The first thought is to grab an indicator, split shot and a couple of nymphs. But wait, it’s summer and fish are in the habit of looking up for their food. Sure, you can still nymph them out of the deep holes, but tempting a non-rising trout fish up to the surface to eat an artificial fly can be super rewarding.

Here’s a simple plan of attack. Tie on a dry fly or two. I prefer having a larger fly such as a Chubby Chernobyl or stimulator as my lead fly followed by a smaller attractor pattern, like a Purple Haze or Lime Trude. Target similar holding water where you were catching the rising fish. But also cast at more nymphy-looking runs, like riffles and behind rocks and boulders. Feel free to twitch that larger foam pattern to make it look like a struggling stonefly or grasshopper.

Watching a fish rise from the depths to smash a purple fly while no other surface activity is taking place can make you feel pretty good about your angling abilities. So feel free to retire those bobbers for the summer and head to our Bozeman Fly Shop and check out our large selection of attractor dry flies.