Traditional Wet Flies for Trout Fishing with John Hey
Traditional Wet Flies. When I first started fly fishing, many years ago, I caught my first trout on a pheasant tail nymph. I had been reading everything about fishing I could lay my hands on. At that time fly fishing in New Zealand was taking on the American look; with fast action rods, and nymphs taking over from traditional wet flies in the trays in tackle stores. When reading about fishing in England I could see they used two or three wet flies to a cast. They took many a trout and still fish that way today.
I usually start my fishing season in small streams fishing the wet fly. I mostly fish with a Sage RP11 this being a very powerful rod and great for rivers and lakes. More recently I had a loan of a Scott fly rod which had recently arrived from America. This rod is a little softer in action but still has enough power to cast a long line. This rod is a 9 foot, four-piece, 6 weight.
To fish the wet fly I carefully enter the stream and cast across. I then mend the line upstream holding the line in my left hand while following the line with my rod tip. As the line swings down below and begins to slow, I slowly raise the rod to make the fly rise to the surface. The take can happen anywhere from 45° to when you raise the fly.
This type of fishing calls four great touch, and is more demanding than the dry fly. Some fish take real quick, and some just stop the fly in its tracks. Don’t strike too hard or one of two things will happen: (a) you’ll break off, or (b) you will pull the hook out because you’re pulling the hook towards you away from the fish.
I first tried the Scott fly rod just before Christmas on the South Branch off the Waimakariri River. There was a slight southerly wind but it wasn’t cold. There was a hatch of both caddis and mayflies that night.
On the first run down the pool I had two touches. I changed to a Twilight Beauty size 12 and on the first cast a brownie of two pounds took close-in and rose immediately and went Airborne. The rod handled brilliantly and I soon had the fish in the shallows to release him for the next time. I caught two more fish that night. Just after dark your senses seem to be more alert. You don’t have to see the fly.
The wet fly isn’t hard to tie.
Tie in a few whisks as a tail and then build up a body of black thread to form the shape. Tie in a longish hackle and tie back as in finished fly. By changing the body and adding a rib with a different wing-like mallard or a soft partridge hackle you can create many emerging flies. Why not give traditional wet flies a try this coming season.
Traditional wet flies can be used all season but my best results have been early season (before Christmas). The cold winter nights are a great time to practice tying and the chance to stock up your fly boxes.