Downstream dryfly

Following on from the very popular upstream dryfly, which was covered in detail in the last piece, this week I'm bringing you downstream dryfly.

Note well: Some fisheries, especially those fine chalkstreams of the South, the ones offering classic stocked rainbow trout fishing, do not allow downstream dryfly. This is because it's harder.

Stealth Master Camo-Guy prepares to turn himself invisibleEnter Camo-Guy…

Camo-Guy says, “When engaged in downstream dryfly, boys and girls, you will need STEALTH, by carefully disguising yourself as a tree and moving very slowly, you should be able to effectively fish downstream, and without the river keeper seeing you.”

There are two circumstances when you will need downstream dryfly. The first is when it's the only possible angle of attack – remember trout face upstream and you are far better sneaking up from behind them, although admittedly this is a somewhat less gentlemanly approach – and the second is for downstream skated presentations.

This piece is about the first circumstance, drag-free downstream presentation for bitchy fish living in front of trees and low-slung bridges. Bring on the downstream cast… there's one problem of course (apart from the fish looking upstream, directly towards you) and it is drag. Fortunately this is a casting site and so we have various solutions:

  1. the puddle cast, utilising a low back cast and a high forward cast (slack line mainly towards the leader)
  2. the parachute cast, whereby the rod is stopped on the forward cast and the line allowed to fall from the tip (slack line beneath the rod tip)
  3. the tuck cast (overpowered vertical loop) (slack line in the leader system)
  4. the hump cast (vertically aligned curve cast) slack line somewhere along the line, depending upon when you hump
  5. the tailing loop – I've been getting into these recently, and a well formed tailing loop can be used to present the fly beside the line tip
  6. the anchor mend, (roll flicking slack down the line) is essential to good downstream drag free presentations, so you'll want to learn that one.

Tom delivers downstream on a secret river in New ZealandDepending on the situation you may find that you can only make one of the above. For example you can't make a puddle cast if a low backcast is impossible, and you can't make a parachute cast if you're sidecasting and unable to lift the rod. Anyway this is not really a casting piece, this is a fishing piece, and so we'll assume that you've managed to cast the fly downstream, towards the fish, with sufficient slack line somewhere.

With the exception of the Vertical Winch Cast this presentation is as good as you'll get. The fly will reach the fish before the leader, making this the line of attack for leader shy fish. In fact some people specialise in this approach, believing it to be most effective. However it's important to get the fly choice right the first time around, because if the fish ignores your fly, the next thing it'll see is either the flyline drifting down towards him or else the fly working it's way back upstream again. Tom and Paul deep in  bush stealth modeNeither is a particularly good look.

Let's assume that the fish takes the fly, if this is your first time you'll strike too soon, making it a bit like sex I reckon – with downstream dryfly you have to wait that little bit longer before setting the hook (try thinking about complicated mathematics); the fish must fully shut its mouth before you strike, otherwise all you'll do is pull the fly back out its mouth, and they don't like that much.

That's it! Bet you can't wait to try it out. Next time: it's a drag.


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