Bruce Ajari: Dry-fly fishing heats up in early summer

Bruce Ajari
Gone Fishin'

The early part of the season from mid-May through about mid-July is one of those times I truly love on our local waters. Why? Because fish readily rise to the dry fly, the adult form of the aquatic insect that is emerging.

Dry-fly fishing is something I wait for all season long. In England they have a rule that the dry fly can only be fished upstream. Crazy rule aside, they love dry fly fishing there as well as all over the world.

What is it about fishing the dry fly that really excites us? First of all, dry-fly fishing does not take nearly the amount of work as nymphing or fishing streamers. Fishing subsurface in simple terms is work. While it is the most productive form of fishing, it is also quite tiring.

Typically, you are either using a sinking line or a floating line with a split shot. Chucking this set-up out all day makes one pretty weary by the end of the day.

Dry-fly fishing, on the other hand, involves a fly that is dressed to float. As mentioned above it represents the adult stage of an insect. When fish are keying on the adult stage, the dry fly becomes the fly of choice.

Dry-fly fishing is exciting, because you are typically casting to a specific rising fish. You can also watch the fish come up and take the fly right in front of you. This makes it extremely satisfying and considerably less work since you are typically only casting when you see fish rising.

The time period I mentioned above represents a great time to fish dry flies locally. There are several key early-season insects that bring large fish to the surface during this period. The first is the carpenter ant. When you see these insects flying about, grab an ant pattern and get to whatever body of water you are near. Chances are, the fish will begin to gorge themselves on them.

Another large insect of great importance on the Truckee River and Little Truckee River are the Green Drakes. These are the largest mayfly in our local waters. Imitating them on a size No. 10 hook is the typical size of these insects. The trout certainly know what they are, and large ones readily take your dry-fly imitations when they are hatching.

Finally, the other great-big fish fly, while not large, is the Little Yellow Stonefly. Most anglers use a yellow elk hair caddis to represent this hatch. These certainly work well enough. While you can tie more exacting patterns, the elk hair caddis will do nicely.

The timing of these hatches is always dependent on the weather and the amount of snowpack we have had during the winter. Most events occur within a couple of weeks of a normal cycle. Once you fish the local waters enough you will get a sense of just when to expect to see these insects.

I usually like to begin my fishing a couple of weeks prior to what I think is a normal timeframe for a hatch such as the Green Drake. If I think it is going to be a late hatch, I usually start looking for them around the normal hatch period and continue until I catch the hatch.

Dry-fly fishing is a great experience, and there are lots of other insects to imitate that will catch fish other than these three specific hatches. Grab you rod and fish a dry fly!

and#8212; Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.

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