PDF Drag-Free Drift: Leader Design and Presentation Techniques for Fly Fishing

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By minimizing the effect of subsurface drag, these methods allow the flies to stay in the strike zone, which is the bottom 20 percent of the vertical water column, with a more natural drift. You can think of the shorter drifts typical of most tightline techniques as having three distinct stages. The first, just after the cast, begins as the flies descend to the strike zone, and the current begins to pull them downstream. Ideally, get your flies quickly to the strike zone with a tuck cast or equivalent, which shortens this phase and lengthens the next.

Many strikes occur during this stage, so it pays to keep contact with the flies while they sink. The second stage begins when the flies reach the strike zone — often signaled by a slight tightening of the sighter, which is a short segment of brightly colored and thus highly visible monofilament spliced into the leader. The drift usually moves slightly slower than the current speed seen from the surface since the strike zone layer near the stream bottom moves slower than the layers above. This speed mimics the drift speed of naturally drifting organisms.

Soft vs. Hard Monofilament for Leaders

An occasional bottom snag confirms that our flies are in the strike zone. The third stage can be varied according to angler preference, but starts with the end of the dead drift as the flies tighten to the leader. At this point, we often simply lift to the next cast, and sometimes justly so if fish are hitting during the previous stages. But when fishing is slow, try modifying this final stage- it can trigger strikes. For instance, once the flies tighten, allow them to rise slowly to the surface like a rising insect, even allowing them to swing across the current like a wet fly.

If fish are in a chasing mood, this might seal the deal. This works even with rising trout during a hatch. Choose current threads for your drift within one and one-half rod lengths or less from where you stand as measured by holding the rod horizontally and directly across stream. Cast less than twenty-five feet upstream in that thread.

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A longer rod helps reach that current thread that might otherwise be too far away. Longer rods also help lengthen the drift. Adding length allows you to extend a drift or reach an otherwise unreachable feeding lane. The shorter length comes in handy when fishing in tight quarters or on streams closed in by vegetation. With the Drift rod, you only have to carry one rod to the river. Any questions, comments about the Drift or nymphing techniques, feel free to reach out on one of our social media channels.

Jason Randall is an outdoor writer whose articles frequently appear in fly-fishing magazines.

He is the author of four books published by Stackpole Books. And what better way to do that than at a fishing show. The winter show circuit has already started, and Temple Fork Outfitters is scheduled to be on hand at nearly two dozen events with an array of staff, advisors and ambassadors. Please stop by and say hello. Carolina Outdoor Expo, Greenville, N.


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Saltwater Fishing Expo, Somerset, N. Northwest Sportshow, Minneapolis, Minn. Just like fishing dry flies, a good nymph presentation begins with a good cast. Not only is accuracy important, but a good nymph fishing cast gets the flies to the strike zone quickly. The weighted flies or added weights like sinkers commonly used for nymph fishing certainly sink in water, but a standard fly-fishing cast impedes their descent and delays their arrival in the strike zone.

It looks great to cast a tight loop that stretches out horizontally, with line, leader and flies landing on the water at the same time.

Fly Fisherman

To get the most out of every drift, you need a cast that allows the flies to hit the water and sink to the bottom before the line or leader on the surface begins to travel downstream. Think of it as the equivalent of the slack-line cast for dry flies; it allows the flies to reach the strike zone, often hitting bottom before the line hits the surface. The tuck cast allows you to maximize every drift by getting your flies to the strike zone faster. My friend and fellow TFO advisory staffer Ed Jaworowski taught me the tuck cast several years ago, and I captured it on video.

The cast begins with a sidearm back cast with the rod held at about a 45 degree angle. The normal stop and pause between the back and forward cast is replaced by an oval transition with constant tension on the line to avoid letting the weighted flies snap back and bounce as they would with a standard cast. During this transition, the rod angle is changed from 45 degrees to a nearly upright position by flexing the elbow rather than the wrist.

The movement is similar to a forearm curl with a barbell. The forward cast begins at the end of this transition, gradually and smoothly accelerating to a slightly overpowered but abrupt stop. Direct the forward cast at an upward angle. In other words, aim at the tree tops rather than the tree trunks.

How to avoid micro drag with dry flies and nymphs

With a well-executed tuck cast, the line remains horizontal and parallel to the water, the leader or at least the part of it closest to the flies is vertical, and the flies land well before the line. The slack created in the leader lets the flies sink to the bottom unimpeded by any downstream pull from the line that would otherwise occur.

You can adapt the tuck cast for the newer nymph fishing methods such as Czech, Polish or French nymphing, too. Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content. Like this: Like Loading Best regards, Joe Kissane. All three of the tapers described there work great. Submit a comment Cancel reply Enter your comment here Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:. Email required Address never made public.

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Lessons from Lefty Kreh, a Fly-Fishing Legend | GearJunkie

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