There is something magical about watching a trout rise for a fly and take it. We know that many people can be intimidated by the idea of fly fishing, so here's how I was introduced to fishing with flies as a kid that got me hooked and excited to learn how to fly fish.
It's really a simple concept, a spinning rod, a water bubble, a bead, swivel, and a dry fly. That's it, well not quite! Besides, anytime you're out at one of the beautiful lakes in the Lakes Basin it's a no-brainer.
Let's talk equipment first. Ideally you'll want a longer ultralight fishing rod than you might otherwise use. The longer rod allows for better control when casting as your leader from the swivel to the fly will be at least four feet long. The longer the better as long as you can control the leader when casting. I use a 7' foot rod and a 6' leader for this application when I fish the lakes in the Lakes Basin and even at times in rivers.
Next line selection. I fish straight #4 lb test line with a #2 lb test leader of monofilament. I always recommend that people use fluorocarbon line and leader, but not this time, as fluorocarbon line, while it's less visible, does sink which we don't want when fishing dry flies.
Reel selection is pretty basic. Virtually any ultralight reel with a smooth drag will do. The drag is the most important thing.
Fly selection varies on the hatch. Remember you want to match the hatch. We recommend you contact a local fly shop like Reel Anglers Fly Shop in Grass Valley and get recommendations on specific flies for the time of year and the lake you're fishing. You can also carry some basic flies like a black gnat, a mosquito, black ant, etc. they will typically always draw strikes.
Rigging is simple. First take your water bubble and put water in it about 3/4's full. This is your weight for casting. Next slide your main line through the center of the water bubble and then slide on a small bead. The bead is your knot protector so the water bubble doesn't damage your knot on the swivel. Next, tie your small barrel swivel, the smallest you can find to your main line. Take a long leader of #2 lb test and tie that to the other end of your barrel swivel. Lastly, tie on your fly.
Now what, how do I fish this? Cast it out and here's the key, stop it before it hits the water. This accomplishes two things. First, you want that leader to fly out past your water bubble and lay out flat. Second, you want to dry off your dry fly. If you don't stop it, the fly will land next to the bubble, which you don't want, and simple force of stopping your cast will dry off your fly which you do want.
After it hits the water, let the current in the lake or any breeze move the water bubble around which also moves your fly. Give it a good minute or so, and if no strikes, reel in slowly a few feet and wait again. Repeat that process. Remember, this is a fly not a lure like a spinner or spoon. so you don't want to be swimming your dry fly too much.
There you have it, a simple yet effective way to fish dry flies in a lake. Next time we'll talk about sourcing a local bait that is killer in the N. Yuba River.
Please remember to keep only what you're going to eat and to practice CPR (Catch, Photograph, Release) for the future health of our fishery.