Upstream dryfly

JC says, 'I caught this specimin using superiour presentation skills'You will need:

1 x flexible lever
1 x 9 ft tapered leader
1 x competition Humpy
2 x spools of your favourite tippet material
1 x condom (not too big)
and of course an upstream.

Not necessarily in that order.

Disclaimer: I have been discussing technical flycasting stuff all this week on the board and so my brain is anaesthetised.

The theory

When one casts a sexyloop, the top leg of the loop travels over the bottom leg, unrolling the loop as it does so, with minimal wiggle, continually affected by gravity, air resistance AND friction, propelled partly by a haul which was neither too long nor too short (be sure to wear your condom at all times), then as the loop reaches its forward taper the change in mass means that there is an increased loop speed velocity, however since air resistance is proportional to the square of velocity we won't be ironing out our wrinkles out just yet, in spite of the tip being thinner and therefore more aerodynamic, until the loop reaches the TAPERED leader and the energy continues to travel down the leader so that the Competition Humpy (see “what you will need” above) lands neatly on the water surface where it can be found and gobbled up by a 9 lb wild trout.

If you have forgotten your tapered leader, perhaps because you're a cheapskate and think they are too expensive in any case, and you haven't made up your own, because you're lazy, then your cast will bollox up right now (“bollox up” incidentally is a technical flycasting expression as practiced and understood by all the flycasting professionals on the Board).

Disclaimer 2: Jim Curry, AAPGAI instructor and specialist in some other cool stuff, chooses NOT to use a tapered leader. He feels that the “bollox up” component of the cast, is a useful and effective way of creating slackline in the leader presentation system, and avoids the requirement of executing and therefore learning the Tuck cast.

Jim says, “When executing the bollox up presentation cast, I usually find a light well-tied level leader of 15 to 20 feet to be the most suitable, however one can lengthen this according to how big a bolloxing up one requires… (it's a bit technical-like, that bit, Paul)”

Back to the story…

So lets delve in to the theory of upstream dryfly (incidentally for those beginners currently confused by flyfishing terminology, upstream is the opposite to downstream, has nothing to do with being midstream, and you can easily tell which way you are facing by asking yourself whether you are on the true left or true right bank. Or putting it the other way, when you are standing on the true right, upstream is to your left, and when you are standing on the true left, upstream is to your right. Unless you are facing backwards of course, in which case you have to reverse the above points taking this into account – but that should be obvious to anyone).

The idea is that you cast your competition Humpy upstream of the fish, and in a manner such that it will drift downstream drag-free towards the fish. The fly should appear where the fish would expect to see the real one, which means right there, right in the current, where he is feeding, and not behind him for example. Remember we talked about this before? Earlier in this series, when I mentioned those interesting little surface bubbles being carried down the river? That is where you'll want to stick your fly.

The practice

Of course if that was all there was to it I'd be out of a job, not that I'm in one and for obvious reasons, and river fishing would be completely straightforward and far less entertaining – not that we either know or understand it of course; I know bugger all, and that's my final and considered position on the matter.

So in order to make flyfishing more of a challenge drag was invented. Drag is where the fly is pulled in one way or another, by the flyline so that it moves unnaturally to the current. Basically any straight line cast, cast straight across varying currents, will create drag, which is of course why Jim uses the bollox up cast for all of his presentation needs.

There are however, numerous other slack line/presentation casts for those of us lacking Jim's presentation skills, in fact since this site has its foundation based in being a flycasting site, and you are here, no doubt you will already have discovered this fact and the flycasting section will overcome many of these problems.

In addition it is quite important that one does not “line” the fish, and in fact the fish should not see the flyline at all, no matter what its colour. This means that we should use a leader of respectable length. I recommend one of one and a half times the length of the rod. In fact this is really important for a clean presentation, since shorter lengths than this tend not to disappate all the casting energy (which is fine for traditional zonker fishing, but no good for delicate dryfly action since the fly crash lands – even Humpies). You can use longer leaders if you wish. In general I do, favouring about 18 feet for a 9 ft rod and I use a longer tippet section taking a leaf out of Jim's book.

Some fish are “leader shy”. This means that they may spook if you cast your leader over them. Of course you may be asking yourself why you would want to do this in the first place, as I am too, but if the fish is hanging off your side of the main current, and you cast your competition Humpy into the main current, the leader will drift over the fish, meaning it is time to throw a curved leader presentation cast, or else time to cross the river and throw an upstream aerial mend. (With a slow flow I'm happy to cast across it, which in this case is best – with a fast flow it's better keep all the action on your side).

“Leader shy” fish, incidentally and in my experience, are particularly put off by floating shiney leaders. Carry some mud paste; either make your own up with Fuller's Earth (being careful to avoid the Australian Customs) and washing up liquid. Or instead you could buy this stuff, which Carl thinks is rather good.

One of the many skills in dry fly (some would say few) is casting the fly so that it lands outside the fish's window, and preferably a little further away still. You don't want the fish to see the fly land, sometimes this works, in which case it's a separate tactic and a form of the “induced take”, which I shall cover at some other, indetermined point in the future, when I can think straight, don't hold your breath.

The timing

One of the problems the beginner has is in timing the strike when fishing the upstream dryfly. Let me descibe in detail what happens:

1. You cast your fly upstream of the fish, to land in the main current. This is sight fishing incidentally – I perhaps should have mentioned that at the beginning, but I cunningly didn't. However all is not lost thankfully, and if your river is really peaty or mud stained or you simply don't know how to spot fish, perhaps because you haven't read the earlier articles, or understood them, then you will either have to fish the main currents in hope, or else watch for rising fish and cover them. I can't be there on the river with you, so you'll have to remember this important detail.

2. The fly drifts downstream towards the fish. At this point you must stop breathing and lock your jaw, concentrating at all times.

3. The fish sees the fly and decides he likes the look of it and is going to eat it – this is not always the case incidentally, sometimes the fish decides not to eat your fly, this spices things up a little, making flyfishing that little more edgy.

4. He rises in the current to take the fly, and he sticks his nose out of the water, sucking down your size 10 competition Humpy (which you intentionally cocked up the hackling on, because that's what the fish want, and the competition dictates). At this instant the fish's mouth is open making it not a particularly good moment to strike.

5. The fish closes his mouth after he has turned down. Now would be an excellent time to strike. The bigger the fish, the slower the current, the longer the delay.

6. The fish spits out the fly again because you were too slow, not that this happens very often, and you'll no doubt strike on point 4. If you want to know more about timing the strike the Stillwater section would be a good place to look. Damned if I can remember where however…

Now that I have written this piece I'm going fishing again. Five days in Invercargill with no fishing and no women, is too much for any man, in spite of the very obvious attractions that the Board members have to offer :-)

Next week: Downstream dryfly, life in the fast lane.


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