What is Dry Fly Fishing

What is Dry Fly Fishing

Simply put, dry fly fishing is a technique where a fly fisherman uses an artificial fly, floating on the water surface to catch trout. The technique was originally called Dapping and consisted of laying a small fly on top of the water to catch the rising fish.

When dry fly fishing, the fly is tied to a very fine tippet and cast upstream of the fish. The flys mimic the natural food that trout eat, such as mayflies, caddis, stoneflies and other insects. 

What is the Difference Between Wet and Dry Fly Fishing?

The primary difference between wet and dry fly fishing lies in their names. While you can use the same fly rods for both types, you’ll need a slightly different setup.

 Wet fly fishing essentially involves using wet flies that sit beneath the surface of the water. Trout attack wet flies as they activate their territorial instincts.

On the other hand, dry flies are cast on the surface of the water to lure the trout who is searching for his food. These dry flies often resemble full-grown insects and flies. 

It’s quite simple to tell the difference between dry flies and wet flies. For instance, dry flies usually bear lighter “fluffier” collars and hooks. Therefore, if you see a fly made of stiffer material, then that is probably a dry fly. Conversely, wet flies are often larger and much heavier. They tend to be made of lager material and long hackle to ensure they sink below the surface of the water. Therefore, they will not have hard collars like dry flies. 

Both wet and dry flies have an optimal time for use. You can use wet flies just about all day long. Even when the river has colour and the trout don’t seem to be eating anything. Trout can feed on streamers any time of the day, even amidst a hatch. Provided that you creatively present the wet flies, the trout will strike.

However, dry fly fishing is an entirely different game, as your technique is everything. Trout are clever little beings. They will only feast on something that looks natural. They typically won’t dart far and wide from their hiding spots for food (although I have been surprised). So look for spots that look like they have foam on the surface because that’s where food is located. The next step would be to cast your fly and do your best to let it drift as naturally as possible. When the fly drifts, let it do so for a while so as not to spook the trout.

What are Dry Flies Used for?

Since dry flies are designed to be inherently buoyant, they will float on the surface of water softly without breaking it or becoming wet. Dry flies are regularly reapplied with a floatant that helps them stay afloat for longer periods of time.

Dry flies are of two types, attractors and imitations. Imitations are designed to look like an adult fly like caddisfly, small blue-winged olive or elk hair caddis. Most of these designs are easier to see when floating on water like the mayfly imitation or Royal Wulff attractor type. For instance, the Parachute Adams have a sort of parachute on them to ensure that once you cast them, they land softly and naturally on the surface of the water while staying as visible as possible. Therefore, if you are a beginner, dry flies might be a great way of starting your fly fishing journey.

There are other designs or dry flies like imitators that are designed to mimic the translucent and shiny effect some flies have when sunlight shines through them. The shiny effect makes it easy for them to be seen underwater.


If you are new to fly fishing, it is evident that the best way to start is dry fly fishing. Besides this, their designs allow them to float on the surface of the water as naturally as possible, without getting wet. So grab your fly fishing gear and get out there.

Badger Sportsman

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