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Deep water dry fly
  |  First Published: December 2013



While the traditional view of fishing in deep water is to use wet flies and sinking lines, the warmer conditions of summer means that plenty of trout are patrolling the surface layers in deep water looking for a feed.

Back in the ‘old days’ when I was full time trout guiding, I’d spend a lot of time looking for surface feeding trout in deep water.

The reasons were many, but mostly it came down to trout behaviour rather than any ‘food’ reason. The principle reason is this. Trout feeding shallow water will quite often display that very annoying behaviour known as ‘oncing’. This is where they make a splashy rise on the surface but then race straight to the sanctuary of the bottom weed. As shallow water is only a quick 1m dash, trout don’t expend much energy doing this.

In deeper water however, and I mean over 3m, trout are less inclined to go back to the bottom once they are feeding on top, principally due to how much energy they will use.

You can pretty much guarantee that a fish that rises in deep water will stay on the surface looking for something else to eat. They might sip down 1m or so, but they can still see the surface. A dry fly cast in their direction as soon as you can will get more positive responses than the same situation in shallow water.

Best of all, deep water is usually a long way offshore, and this gives the wind a chance to funnel all the surface trout food into lines – either as wind lanes in light winds, or foam lines in stronger winds.

Foam lines in deeper water are pure gold when it comes to finding trout on the surface. They are usually heavily loaded with food, such as spent mayflies, beetles, ants an pretty much anything else that trout will eat. Trout aren’t silly, they know that food in a straight line is easy food, and they will swim upwind and get stuck into it – a trouty yum cha!

The trick here for the angler is get your boat into the right spot, and that means off to one side of the foam line. Don’t put your boat on the foam line, as you will interrupt the wind that creates it in the first place. Once you have the boat in the right spot, keep your dry flies on the edge of the foam – not in it.

The main reason is two fold, you can see them easier, and they are easier for the trout to see, with the added advantage of the fly not being gummed up with foam.

Use flies that are easy for you and the trout to see. I often use the Orange Carrot as a dropper with a Foam Beetle on the beetle lakes and a Possum Emerger on the mayfly hatch waters.

Use the wind to your advantage and keep your eyes peeled, as a trout rising will inevitably keep coming into the wind – nominally straight at you. Cast short and give the fish time to get its head down, no quick strikes here.

Follow the wind, follow the food and find the trout. Easy, isn’t it.

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