How to (not) catch Missouri River dry fly fish

How to (not) catch Missouri River dry fly fish

How to (not) catch Missouri River dry fly fish

A few of the ways that we as Missouri River dry fly anglers keep ourselves out of fish are listed and explained in this short and factual Monday morning fly fishing blog.

There are so many ways we screw ourselves in the angling venture and most of them are avoidable. Some we learn with all of the days on the water and some we hopefully learn from others. Our fishing friends, a guide, or some half-assed blogger spitting out diarrhea of the fly casting keyboard.

Don’t cast at the trout. A common mistake that many freestone anglers make when fishing the Missouri River is that they do not cast at the fish. You gotta cast at them.

The goal is not to see how long, distance wise, you can drift the fly here. The best anglers drift can drift for a short distance…over and over and over. Repeatedly.

In a freestone environment we are always taught to toss it out there and make it drift for a country mile. Here we go the other route. Try and see if you can drift it to the fish in a mere 18″. Some go as long as 36″. How about a total drift length of 3′. 18″ before and 18″ after.

Why waste time drifting the fly, or more likely dragging it, for longer than you need to? With all of the micro currents here on the Missouri River it is totally possible that the fly may be dragging for the entire drift. We are trying to eliminate drag on the fly. Most of the flies we fish to our free rising summer trout sit in the film. We don’t fish too many of those high floating visible flies here in central Montana. They seem to wrk much better when we can’t see them.

So many fellers cast above the fish 10’+, or more, and then try to drift it the 10’+ to the fish and then they try to drift it 20’+ feet or more below the fish.

Even if there are fish rising below your target you should truly try and focus on one fish at a time. Those who flock shoot do not catch as many as those who keep their focus. Almost never. Low percentage fishing produces low catch rates. Keep your narrow window of drift for the best consistent success.

And I should have mentioned that casting at a single target is always a better idea. Always.

So if you want to connect with fewer trout, make those long drifts. Super long drifts. Your fly line is approx. 100′ long, so get after it. How to (not) catch Missouri River dry fly fish. Go ahead and use the fly line to deliver the fly to the target but keep the amount of time you keep it on the water short.

Lots of drifts for a short distance. Repeated perfect short drifts are the key to getting the net of the bottom of the boat, fro being pinned to your back, to marinating that dry netting. Short and perfect drifts.

Drag free is an appreciated addition to this equation.

So the upshot of this longwinded explanation of this quite simple concept is just this…make short precise drifts allowing the trout to eat it. Drag free short precise drifts. Repeatedly.

Keep this concept in mind when you are watching your buddy make drifts that take 49 seconds. Get after him and make him shorten them up to 6 seconds. That means 8+ drifts per minute. Not 1. Efficiency is one route to use that dry net. The longtime and now happily retired Missouri River guide Neil Streeks always stated that presentations per minute (PPM) were important for all day successes. Neil was right. Lots of perfect drifts always exceed the performance of very few shitty drifts. But that is just what many anglers do. Some in my boat.

Keep it short. Keep it true. Use the net.

Thanks for reading this informative fly fishing blog today from your favorite fly shop. Hard to find good solid information from fishing blogs. So much fluff and bullshit. Some here too but sometimes we slip in some quality updates that can make you a better angler. We are here to inform, educate, and entertain.

As John would say here…Here endeth the lesson.


DFO, dry fly, June, Summer, Techniques, tips, What not to do
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