Aimee and I were on the Taylor last weekend and were approached by a gentleman who was new to fly fishing with several questions. The first and the one that I am going to address here is “I put that powder on my dry fly and it started sinking almost immediately; how do I keep it from sinking?”
There are a few different ways to answers this question: if you’re working on being a cocky jackass, you might tell him that if he got a better drift his dry fly would float. Or, if you’re trying to be a decent human, you could explain that a combination of gel and powder can help to keep dry flies floating high all day. We tend to like helping people get into fly fishing so I went with option two.
If you do your research online you will find studies that show that the powder is the best, most effective floatant. I like the powdered floatants, but like our wayward beginner I don’t have incredible luck with them. I feel like the dragging and casting that happens while you fish washes the powder off the fly incredibly quickly. When I fish I typically use Loon Outdoors Aquel first. I have found, through experience, not empirical research, that Aquel will keep your fly floating the longest and through the most fish if you apply it first, while the fly is dry and make sure that you dry the fly again once you have applied the floatant. Until you have caught a few fish, or fished for several hours (cause lets face it we don’t always slay the trout) your fly should float well. And just because this should help your dry fly float better from the start of your fishing it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep working on getting good drifts, cause lets be real here, nothing keeps your fly floating better than a good drift ;).
Once the fly is sinking, due to either several fish or an epic skunkage, what then? I have two methods that I like to use, first, if the dry fly is completely soaked I will either go straight for the shake or will dry it as well as I can with a Rio Wonder Cloth and then shake. You’ll find that once you use shake you will have to continue using shake. Not every cast, but every 10th cast? Every 20th cast? Definitely after every fish that you catch. Enough that you will notice that you have to reapply frequently, the good thing is that each time that you reapply your fly will float super high and will be easy to see and fish.
If the fly is just damp and I think that I can get it completely dry with the Wonder Cloth I will use that and then reapply the Aquel. If I properly assessed my ability to get the fly completely dry prior to reapplication of the Aquel, well then I am in luck and the fly will float just as high as it did when I first started fishing. If I didn’t do a good job getting the fly dry, or if it was just too wet then I am out of luck and will stubbornly fish a sinking dry fly for a while before I give up and use the shake.
Hopefully this will help some of you keep those dry flies floating super high and will help you avoid epic skunkages!