How long does a dry fly float for a beginner? Not very long.
You're just getting onto dry fly fishing, you make a cast
and what do you see? Your dry fly sinks. Not a good thing.
You pick it up and cast again. It sinks again. And again.
So you keep up the cycle. You cast; it sinks. You cast; it
sinks, again and again. It becomes like a disease, you have
this compulsion to cast. And cast again. And cast again. To
keep it from sinking you don't leave it on the water long.
As soon as it hits the water you pick it back up so that it
doesn't have a chance to sink.
I had forgotten things like that but was reminded at the
'Fish In' I just attended. It's good for me to go to
'Fish Ins,' it helps me to see things from different
angles. I get old; I forget stuff.
As we learn more about fly fishing our casting gets
better and we can actually drive a cast forward and
not just have it all puddle up in front of us. We
decide to tie on a dry fly. It becomes more of a
shooting-gallery event than fly fishing. Like I said,
I had forgotten it, but saw it happen all over again.
This problem of course does not happen with a wet fly
or nymph. Those flies get chucked out someplace and
drifted or swung. But not so with a fly that is
supposed to float. The 'supposed' dry fly.
Now our mending skills are yet a little shaky and
keeping anything but a cork floating is not too likely.
The natural thing seems to be, plop it down and rip it
back off the water before it has a chance to sink. Any
chance to sink. I agree that this is lots of fun, but
not the most rewarding fish wise. Great for casting
(target) practice but the fly needs to be on the surface
just a tad longer than a micro-second.
Maybe a different fly, one of the deer-hair styles, foam
things or even cork might help. The game should be to make
a cast and get a nice gentle drift of several inches, or
even better, a few feet. Forcing myself to leave the fly
on the water. I think I actually remember doing some of it.
I was in such a hurry to get a rise, to get a fish to
come up and take my fly, that I did not leave my fly
on the water very long. I didn't get many fish but it
was good for my accuracy. Have I figured out where
that funny 'foam' I sometimes see drifting along on
streams comes from? Some new guy upstream, 'beating
the water to a froth'.
I know this seems basic and simple but that's just it,
these are some of the basics, the little steps, we all
must go through to make progress. It's good to keep
these things in mind when you are helping one of the
newer folks learn too.
Is there any fix for the problem, if indeed it is a problem?
Might be. First, if you are just getting started and want
to use a dry fly, whether it is a lake or a stream, you
might look for some fly that is made out of a material
that floats really well. Second, yes, it might help to
use some sort of 'floatant' or 'dressing' on it too,
liquid, powder or paste. There are many fly dressings
out there and they all do some good. But...not blue cheese. ~ JC