5 Tips For Better Dry Fly Fishing From Ronnie Hall

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Ronnie Hall with a with his hands full.

Ronnie Hall with a with his hands full.

There are few things more rewarding than a wary trout rising to a dry fly.

Seriously, who doesn’t love fooling fish on a dry fly? Rising fish are like puzzles waiting to be solved and when they are, the angler is rewarded with one of the greatest visual displays in fly fishing. The rise.

Unfortunately, there is also the agony of defeat. All too often your offerings may be refused or worse, just plain ignored. Hold on, don’t go for the cherry bombs just yet. Our buddy Ronnie Hall (Yoda in residence at the Fish Hawk in Atlanta,) has 5 tips to help you unlock the puzzle of rising trout.

#1 Presentation is always the most important aspect of fly fishing, especially when it comes to dry fly fishing.  As the British say, “It’s not the fly, it’s the driver.” Practice making the proper casts to achieve a totally drag-free drift. Practice your reach cast. Take the time to get into position. Accuracy is a part of presentation too.  Getting your fly to float directly in the fish’s feeding lane is a must.  Large trout will not waste energy moving any distance to eat a small fly.  Trout are very efficient in their eating habits.  They don’t waste energy!

#2 Color, know when it matters. On bright days trout see color more accurately. During some hatches, like tricos, trout may use color to target egg-laden females. Color is not always the most important consideration in choosing a fly. Often silhouette is more critical, especially when fishing opaque imitations, such as beetles or hoppers.

#3 Size matters. When unsure of dry fly size, always go smaller. Selective fish will always more readily accept an imitation which is too small over one which is too large. Often mistakes in size are angler error. It is a human shortcoming to imagine things larger than they are. If you can, catch an insect and compare.

#4 Watch out for masking hatches. Don’t assume that the most obvious insect present is the one that trout are eating.  If you’re getting good presentation and the trout is ignoring your imitation look closer to see if there may be a smaller, less noticeable insect, like Baetis, hatching.  Trout don’t necessarily key in on the largest emerging insects.

#5 Get your tippet right. Using the right size tippet is as important as fly choice.  The best way to determine this is to divide the size of your fly by three and use that X designation for your tippet. For example, a size 12 imitation: 12 divided by 3 = 4, so you would need tippet no larger than size 4X.  Go smaller and longer with your tippets in slow water or when fishing over super selective fish.  I sometimes use tippets three feet long and leaders with lengths of 15 feet.

Don’t let picky rising fish intimidate you. Remember Ronnie’s advice and give ’em hell.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “5 Tips For Better Dry Fly Fishing From Ronnie Hall

  1. Very good article. Spoke to a friend of yours from Cumberland, Md. today. I arrived on the Casselman River just as he was getting ready to leave. The low flow and slow pools were not very friendly for him today. He told me that they were rising to something very small.
    We chatted for quite some time after introducing ourselves and talked about my favorite pastime ….ULTRALIGHT FLY FISHING. I geared up my little 8′ Dan Craft zero wt fly rod, with a 14 foot leader and 8x at the end.
    He decided to hang around and watch me and was excited as a kid at Christmas when I hooked up on fourth cast only to be broken off. Caught a total of six on the afternoon.
    Anyway he kept talking about you, and your passion for the tiny midgelike flies, and you employment at I believe fly hawk. He was a delightful 71 year old man, who seemed to be a very good person to have as a friend. I can’t remember his name, but I believe his last name Emberg…..

    • I am the 71 year old. Glad that I stumbled into you via the internet today. I am very interested in doing more of this ultra light fishing. Been using my 3 wt. T & T 8 1/2 ft. rod that I built years ago. Having a ball with it. Just bought a vice from Ronnie. He works at The Fish Hawk in Atlanta, Ga. Nice shop and Ronnie really knows fly fishing. Looking forward to fishing with you. I think that trout that Ronnie is holding was caught in the N. Georgia Mtns.

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