How To Fish Stillwaters
September 26th, 2005

Stillwaters, lakes, ponds and reservoirs are the most underutilized fisheries in the North America. Why? Because the average fly fisher doesn't know how to fish them, or where to start. Stay tuned, you too can master stillwaters! ~ LadyFisher

The Art of Dapping

By John Bailey

Dapping is traditionally associated with the big Irish loughs [lakes] in the spring when the mayflies are up. Boats drift with the wind across comparatively shallow, rocky ground where the mayflies proliferate. Long rods are used, along with silk lines that catch the breeze. At the end of the leader, live mayflies are commonly attached to a hook, or failing that, imitative patterns are used.

Rods are traditionally 14 to 16 feet long, and telescopic models are favored so that they can be extended or shortened according to conditions. However, a long trout or light salmon rod can be used.

Lines are generally made of dapping floss because they catch the wind better. Attach this to 100 yards or so of nylon backing in readiness for a really big fish taking off. The length of the dapping floss varies according to the state of the wind and the length of rod, but 6 feet is generally considered about right. Use a short leader and don't go too fine, if big fish are expected. You can catch the mayflies yourself or, in Ireland, buy them from local boys. Thread anything between one and six mayflies on a hook sized 8 to 12.

This is really a boat-fishing method, although it can occasionally be done from the bank. Let the boat drift, sometimes miles on larger waters, hold the rod vertically, pay out the dapping line until it clears the tip ring, and then lower the rod so that the mayflies are skipping on the surface of the wave. Don't drag them about unnaturally. The aim is to make them appear as lively and unsuspicious as possible, and the same applies with the artificial. Try twitching the rod tip from time to time so that the fly skits from one side to the other.

When you get a take, don't be in too much of a hurry to strike. Sometimes the trout will submerge the flies before sipping them in. (Sometimes they will merely splash at the mayflies - real or imitation - in an attempt to drown them before taking them, in which case do nothing, because they will probably return.) Delay your strike until the line goes out and tightenes, and then merely lift into the hooked fish.

This isn't simply a method for the mayfly season. You can dap with any large naturals, such as grasshoppers, sedges [caddis] and crane flies. Equally, try the method with the imitations of these. Don't go thinking that this is a method restricted to Ireland alone. It's of use on all large stillwaters where regulations allow.

A decent breeze is generally considered important for dapping, as you do need a bit of a wave, and you can even dap in really strong wind conditions, but don't go out if you sense danger. ~ JB

Credits: This article is an excerpt from British author John Bailey's Fly Fishing, The Fish, The Tackle & The Techniques, published by Creative Outdoors, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

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