Russ Symons ties a Yellow Owl dry fly
SO far this season I have found the weather and the fishing to be somewhat unpredictable. What has struck me more than I can remember is the lack of fish feeding off the top. Maybe it is just where I have been fishing, but I don’t think I have ever used my intermediate and sink-tip lines as much as I have this season. So what, you might say, has this got to do with a dry fly emerger such as the Yellow Owl? Living as I do, well to the west of Bristol, it’s often the case that the best of the dry fly fishing happens in the early spring, then again as the trees change colour at the back end of the year. This Yellow Owl seems to work particularly well at about the same time as the Daddy Longlegs becomes the dominant dry fly. So, this tying is particularly relevant for this time of year. The Yellow Owl is an important fly, but what is of even more importance is the method of tying because it can be used to tie a whole array of colours and sizes. This is a fly where the body and tail of the fly hangs beneath the surface, suspended by the cul de canard (CdC), suggesting a hatching insect that is almost ready to take to the wing. You will find, as I did, that a particular colour will suit certain waters better than another colour. Fine tuning it with a black abdomen and a white wing, for example, might be particularly effective where you fish. It will surely be a lot of fun finding out.
How to fish the Yellow Owl
As with most dry fly fishing on still or moving water, if you just tie a fly on and throw it out, it is very likely that you will meet with disappointment. Fishing a dry fly demands a discipline unlike any other type of flflyfifishing. If your dry fly lands on the water and there is a crinkly bit of line floating on the surface leading up to it, fish will come up and look at the fly and most times swim away. Even the most artfully tied fly will be given away by that crinkly bit of line.
“You will find that a particular colour will suit certain waters better than another.” Owls can be tied in many difffferent shades.
So, what to do? Your leader is half the reason for success in dry the other half is the itself and its presentation. This is what I do and it works for me. Let’s say you are a small stillwater, Tavistock, which is my local You arrive at the water’s edge before the sun gets over the corner of the moor and you sipping from the top. That little switch goes offff in your head: “I am going to spend an hour or two on the dry before the sun comes over the top and drives them deep. If I get one or two on the dry, I really don’t care what happens during the rest of the day!” If I know this is likely to happen I will have my 9ft 5wt outfit in the back of the car. At this time of year that 5wt line will have been cleaned and slicked so that it will fly through the rings and float high in the water. The nine-foot leader will be stretched and lie straight as an arrow. I put five feet of 4lb or 5lb breaking strain monofilament on the front of the leader with a dropper coming off the join. I grease the leader up with Mucilin so that it will float and then (this is the key part, often missed by so many), degrease the dropper and the 12 to 18 inches of line leading to the point fly. You want this bit of the leader to sink, so that there is no line showing above the surface leading to the fly. On days when there is an almost ‘dusty’ appearance to the water, you might need to degrease those bits of line every other cast if you want it to sink. Nobody said this was easy fishing! But that’s it – you are ready to fish the Yellow Owl dry fly.