In the United States, stillwater anglers
react to wind differently than do United
Kingdom lake specialists. In the U.S. most
fly fisherman will quit the water when the
wind rises to anything more than a mild
breeze. In England many anglers won't fish
in a dead calm, even if trout are rising,
but they'll rush to the water when it's
blowing a gale and churning a lake to white
That afternoon with James Harris at the Hog
Hole a strong wind kicked up, sending spray
into the air, and within an hour every angler
on the pond rolled up his tackle and left.
This left James and me with all the water,
which was probably a good thing since we were
going to use a method no one there had ever
I'd read about the Floss Blow Line, and had
even thought of trying it. But I never acquired
the right equipment, not bothering because I
decided it was probably a limited technique
that would only work in perfect dry fly
situations. From what I had read, the method
was an anachronism even on United Kingdom
James strung up two long fly rods, each one
more than 11 feet, and put reels on them filled
with flat floss. Knotted at the end of each floss
line was three feet of 4X leader material. The
flies were palmered dry flies, a Soldier Palmer
on his and an Orange Asher on mine.
The wind ripped the surface of the pond,
peaking at twenty miles per hour. In this
weather it was almost impossible to do
anything other than dap a fly, but I had
doubts about whether it was worth fishing
James said, "It's easy," getting the wind
at his back, lifting the rod straight up,
and unfurling line. His fly bounced on the
water a few seconds and then vanished in
the swirling silver of a large rainbow trout.
Twenty anglers on the Hog Hole had caught
seven fish in six hours that day. In four
hours, the two of us landed fourteen
trout—two cutthroats, six rainbows, and
six browns—averaging more than four pounds
in weight. Every fish came rolling or jumping
at the bouncing fly.
The Blow Line Technique is no anachronism. It
is an amazingly effective stillwater method
in a heavy wind. My doubts about it were
absolutely wrong. On mountain waters, where
winds blow more often than not, it is almost
an everyday strategy. While it's true that it
is only useful in a perfect dry fly situation,
strong winds on a pond or lake nearly always
create that perfect dry fly situation.
It is one of the simplest fly fishing methods,
but there are a few tricks to the technique:
It is important to pick the right area for the
Blow Line method. The fly has to touch where
the trout feed on top. The best spot in a
strong wind is down wind from a point of
land. No other place produces strikes more
consistently with the Floss Blow Line. The
wind pushes the surface layer of water,
creating a current, and when that current
hits a jutting piece of land it compresses
and squeezes around the point. Trout concentrate
behind the point to feed on the drowned insects
swept along in the flow.
- Get a fly rod longer than 11 feet and
fill a reel with 90 feet of unwaxed floss
(available in bulk rolls through a dentist).
- Use a light, hackled dry fly (a Bivisible
is always a good choice).
- Position yourself with the wind at your back.
- Hold the rod straight up and feed 20 to
30 feet of line out into the wind.
- To touch the fly (or flies — it's possible
to use two or three) on the surface, lower the
- Make the fly touch repeatedly in exactly
the same spot. Don't let it skip randomly over
- Don't strike when a fish rolls on the fly.
Do just the opposite — bow first, dropping the
rod momentarily, and then strike. This movement
will double the number of hook-ups.
On the Hog Hole that day, James and I fished
off the tips of the islands. Both ends of every
island acted like a point of land, compressing
current and collecting drifting insects. The
trout positioned themselves like stream trout,
letting the flowing water bring food to them. ~ GL
To be continued, next time: Hang-and-Bob