I can’t help myself I love summer, much to the amusement of some of my more cold-natured colleagues.
Perhaps it was growing up a grommet on Aussie beaches, the tang of salt air and the sweetness of coconut oil, bikinis and board short, fires from driftwood, sand in every nook and cranny, and the anticipation of padding into the surf on a warm morning. These days the light streaks in my hair is natural not bleached by the salt and sun, the tool in my hand isn’t coated with board wax, and there’s a big foam or deer creation attached to tippet, but the anticipation is there just the same.
Terrestrial time on the White River started early this year with the periodic cicadas bringing some very good fish to the surface, Just ask my business partner Jim Dugan about his 30″ brown on a cicada of his own making _ he still hasn’t stopped grinning. Our traditional terrestrial season starts in mid-to -late summer, water dependant, and will continue on through the early fall, by October its slowing. But last year I had some buddies in town in early November and we were still working big terrestrials, and landing good fish.
Its better here than many think, and while most fly fishers look for low water for terrestrial action, a lot of folks think its better on
1-2 units its often surprising how many feeders on higher flows you can find, if your prepared to work at it. Yesterday we gave you our Terrestrial fly box. Today we are tossing in some tips on how to fish these flies.
I really like this sort of stuff its fun,and easy enough on the low water. But getting returns on these flies on the higher flows often involves targetting very specific zones on the river, on particular water levels and its the sort of knowledge that takes years of water time to develop. Our GUIDE TEAM really does love this kind of stuff and will work their butts off getting you onto some seriously cool dry fly action if its available. These trips are about as much fun as you can have on the White River and as Jim’s fish showed earlier this year, there truly is the potential to catch the fish of a lifetime on your very next cast.
So here are 10 tips to fishing terrestrials this summer:
PICKING FLIES: There’s a buttload of flies to choose from but you can keep it simple to start, Tan/Brown and yellow in 10 or 8s for hoppers. If your going to be fishing fast water get a couple of high riding patterns, flat pools low riders. In attractors grab some Chernobyl with an orange or green belly in an 8 or 10 , and some big black and size 10 black. Color is less important than presentation _ but get some pink hoppers: really.
AU NATURAL: Foam looks pretty cool, floats all day, but don’t forget some natural materials. Keep the classics in your box: Dave Whitlock’s Dave’s Hopper and the Joe’s Hopper. We also have a lot of affection for the Para Hopper. If you are getting a bunch of swirls, refusals or fish nosing aside the fly go old school..
POCKET THE 5X: Two words line twist. Unless your tossing some very itsy-bitsy hoppers, or superslow current, step up the tippet size. FiveX will end up twisted into a hideous snarl within a few casts on these flies: 4x is better and at times 3x is even better
SCHLAP THAT SCHTUFF DOWN: No delicate mayfly approach here. Give up the long level tippets and shorten up into the taper , abrupt turnover is the name of the game. They will cast better and you will catch more fish.
PRETEND ITS YOUR INDICATOR: On foam flies its easier, just fish it like its your favorite bobbermicator, with similar mends to get a nice dead drift. Natural take a little more delicate hand. Drag generally isn’t a good thing _ but it will blow your mind how many fish witll eat them on the swing at the end of a drift.
SAVE THE FLOURO FOR DROPPERS: Mono all the way to your big flies. run flourofrom the bend to the droppers. Copper Johns are ubiquitous, but think standard nymphing rigs, a 16 and an 18 midge, a Sunday Special and a midge etc heck even a scud or sowbug.
NEVER EVER PLAY ’80s RADIO ON THE WAY TO THE RIVER: Having an Air Supply song running through your head while dry fly fishing is bad karma _ seriously.
WIND ISN’T A BAD THING: Windy days put more terrestrials on the water, whether your are fishing high banks or even on a forested river. It makes any risers harder to see but splat that fly down. The shorter leader will help you fish it.
FOAM IS HOME: Fast riffled water is a great place to start, where the fish have less time to make a decision: eat it or its gone. But foam lines, or current seams, down the pools, are always a great place to purse terrestrial feeders, on low or higher flows.
HAY THERE: High grassy banks, preferable with an undercut or deep slot at its base are classic water, even better if they are on the upwind side of the river. But don’t forget manmade activities like hay cutting or lawn mowing can put a lot of bugs on the water.
TAKE WHAT THEY GIVE YOU: We have said it here before that whole Kiwi “God Save The Queen Thing” might work in the Shaky Isles for slow taking fish. But better yet look how the fish are reacting to your fly. A fast crashing take, hit them fast. Those slow deliberate takes demands a pause once the fish has turned down.