I'm a saltwater fly fisherman. I've caught lots of bones, a couple permit, some big tarpon, tons of stripers and tuna and countless snapper, 'cudas and redfish. I've never been interested in anything but the salt and certainly not in trout fishing. I never wanted to be associated with those fussy trout anglers bedecked with vests festooned with widgets and doohickies who don't know a double haul from a haywire twist and couldn't throw a line across their living rooms let alone at a cruising permit 70 feet upwind.
So given my view of the world, I reluctantly accepted an invitation to meet a friend in Wyoming to "dry fly" fish. I almost cancelled when my host offered to loan me his 3 wt. (a 3 wt. for God's sake!), but I decided to hang in there if for no other reason than to parade my angling superiority.
Humility (perhaps even humiliation) comes to mind as the best word to describe my first dry fly experience. First of all, my double haul was useless and my casting accuracy, especially with a 12' 6x leader in a light wind, was truly awful. I couldn't see the fly. I couldn't understand how my bespectacled companion could, and after 45 minutes of fishing with no strikes (while my friend was hauling in 17-20 inch trout as if on a conveyor belt), I began to think
"Maybe I could use some help". Thank God my friend offered because after all my proclamations about saltwater and my lofty skills, it would have been almost impossible to ask.
So after 20 minutes of him coaching me on drag, drift and feeding lanes and another 20 minutes on casting and "turning over the leader", I finally got my first strike. Of course, I set the hook like I was striking a triple digit tarpon much to the delight of a pair of off-duty guides in a passing drift boat. I was left with a broken tippet, a black and blue mark on my ego and a giggling friend. But on my second strike, I "slowly but firmly raised the rod tip" and the big rainbow was on. I couldn't have been prouder if I'd hooked a 10 lb. bone tailing upwind between 2 mangrove shoots. I had to admit it was pretty exciting to see the trout take the fly. The anticipation as the big 'bow confidently opened his mouth to slurp my little bug was palpable and the feeling was quickly addicting.
I won't go through all the boring details of my metamorphosis from saltwater snob to troutophile. Now I like to think I'm well-rounded ( a term that seems to become more appropriate as I get more acquainted with middle age). But now, I find myself fanaticizing about hatches and rising trout in addition to tailing permit and gulping tarpon. And more importantly, my casting accuracy has greatly improved in the salt and I'm seeing more subtle visual clues when I do fish for bonefish and permit. I'm sure that dry fly fishing has somehow trained my eyes in many subtle ways.
So if you are a dry fly trout guy, you probably only need a little help with your casting to be successful in the salt. Probably the addition of 15-25 feet of casting distance with a bit more line speed to handle the tropical breezes will be all you'll need. I'll be happy to give you a lesson and I promise not to laugh once, even when you raise your rod tip to strike a fish.
Written by Brad Wolfe