North Country Wets

Because this is Sexyloops and we are a well-honed precision machine, it should come as no surprise that following on from Ben's brilliant North Country Wet Flies part 1, in which he single-handedly convinced the world that fishing North Country Wet Flies, and therefore tying them, was indeed a thoroughly good thing to do, that I should, only three weeks later, write about how to actually fish them. An impressive display of co-ordinated teamwork, and if Mike wasn't lost somewhere in the Baltic I know he'd have something to say about this, and as for Sean, well Sean lives for North County Wet Flies, and although he doesn't know it yet, he will catch a six-pound trout on one, one day. So here it is, with no further preliminaries: North Country Wet Fly Fishing – all you ever need to know, and some more stuff besides.

The first thing that you need to know, is that fishing North Country Wet Flies is not only restricted to the North Country, and that the reason they are called North Country Wet Flies is because that is where they were invented in the first place and not because that is the only place that they work. So if you don't live in the North Country and have no intention of visiting the place, in spite of it having some nice castles, and a sunny climate, or perhaps you don't even know where the North Country is, even if you wanted to, especially if you are from the United States for example, this doesn't matter: fear not! You can fish North Country Wet Flies all over the place. In fact I'm going to stick my neck here out a bit and suggest that North Country Wet Flies will in fact probably work better outside the North Country rather than in it, since no one else knows very much about them.

So you're about to have a blast.

The other thing about fishing North Country Wet Flies, is that it's damned hard.

'North Country Wet Flies kick arse, so pay attention'So maybe not then.

Here's the technique: you take three or four (I only ever use three by the way, but I'm not actually from the North Country myself, if I was from the North Country I'd certainly use four) little North Country Wet Flies and tie them to your leader. A good size for the flies would be between #14 and #20, and I'd make the largest the top dropper (or “Bob fly” named after Robert Dibble who invented it – you're learning a lot today aren't you?) and the smallest the point fly. This you will note is careful leader tapering. The only time I would choose to go the other way and stick the smallest fly on the “Bob”, is for when engaged in the Traditional Dog-Nobbler approach; those Mothers always have to go on the point.

Unless you've got a Booby there already of course.

There is one other trick to careful leader tapering – and that is to make sure that the point fly is further away from the next fly up the leader than the next fly up the leader is from the next fly up the leader, and so on. For the obvious reasons.

There are a number of ways of creating droppers, all of which can be found on this site. I have no idea where of course, but the Stillwater section would be a good place to start, if not then try the Beginner's section. You could just tie the nylon to the bend of the last fly, they call this the New Zealand dropper in New Zealand, in spite of the fact that the technique predates trout being introduced to New Zealand in the first place, making it a bit like the Hedged Bet. (See: in order to be a fully-fledged trout bum you gotta know your history). But I would suggest that you don't use this leader construction, for one thing it's a bitch to change flies without screwing the whole thing up.

Now you're ready to fish. The sort of water you're looking for is the sort that predominates the North Country, so if you have never been to the North County, and don't know what it looks like, you're buggered.

There are generally two approaches, both involve getting wet, and one is to stand in the river and cast upstream and the other is to stand in the river and cast “down and across”. Traditionally it is the “down and across” that was, and is still, used. This technique is also known by its' other catchy name, “chuck and chance it”. Which is quite appropriate because it doesn't really work too well and depends to a large degree upon luck. Here's what happens:

You, the fish-dude, cast across the current, maybe using a Spey cast, maybe not. A nice touch would be a little upstream mend, you could do this in the air, hell this is Sexyloops: make a Snaps on Spey Switch Special coupled with a Upstream Aerial Mend and miniature Puddle Presentation. If you don't know what I'm talking about go back through the casting manual before continuing on. Go on, right now.

OK? Well, most people just seem to bung it out there and that works well enough too.

Rule number one: keep some slack line between your finger and the reel, if you hook a fish you'll need this – this however, is extremely unlikely, since the tension of the line happens to pull the fly out of the fishes' mouth, way before it gets a chance to even think about closing it, but in spite of this fact some fish do manage to hook themselves – so you might catch one. Surprising I know, but true. Must be the buzz.

If you are going to get a take, it usually occurs as the flies are coming out of the main current. If you are a traditional dog nobbler fisher you would already know this bit. Most people would recommend keeping a taught line, since getting the fish to hook themselves is the main objective here.

There is however another approach, one often credited to that great man WC Stewart (fanfare), inventor of the black spider with starling, not a true North Country man it is true, but rather a hardy Scot! Not a traditionalist either, but a revolutionary no less. A man who would readily have used dog nobblers had there been any dogs about. A professional flyfisherman and writer. This crazy dude slammed the system and realised that fishing down and across was a dumb ass thing to do: he turned around and fished upstream!!!

Next week in the Flow: How to cause uproar, havoc, mayhem, anarchy and just generally piss people off, by thinking outside the box... Billy-boy Stewart – Legend or Leper?


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