Long live wets

TF dis­cusses the cur­rent sta­tus of tra­di­tional wet flies and their mod­ern twists

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

WET flies have been around for years, even cen­turies in some cases, and many an­glers still de­light in cel­e­brat­ing a colour­ful and skilful part of fly­fish­ing’s his­tory. It’s fair to say that their use to­day is largely lim­ited to wilder, larger wa­ters in Wales, Ire­land, Scot­land and the north of Eng­land. Mod­ern lures lead the way on small wa­ters although some of the old wets are still men­tioned in dis­patches – a Black Pen­nell is still a good buzzer pat­tern for ex­am­ple and when snails are about, a Black & Pea­cock Spi­der is hard to beat. But the main­stream wets, such as Dab­blers, are rarely a first choice ex­cept on large up­land wa­ters. TF’s north­ern con­trib­u­tor Paul Proc­ter claims that the old wets will al­ways have their place and rep­re­sent ‘an­other string to your bow’, es­pe­cially when tar­get­ing wild browns.

How to fish wets

If you’ re new to fish­ing wets, you’ll come across the term‘ tra­di­tional loch-style’ fish­ing which refers to cast­ing broad­side from a drift­ing boat. But wets can be fished from the bank too. For both bank or boat the prin­ci­ples are the same – a team of f lies de­signed to work to­gether. Atyp­i­cal set-up might be a float­ing line with a 12-foot leader in to­tal. From the fly-line there’ s a three-foot ta­pered sec­tion. This will be knot­ted to an­other three-foot sec­tion of level leader lead­ing to the first drop­per, which–if there’ s a de­cent wind – should be a bushy pat­tern like a Bibio, Zulu or Doo­bry. Then there’s an­other three feet to the mid­dle drop­per, which will be an­other bushy fly if the wind is strong. But in a mod­er­ate blow this mid­dle drop­per is usu­ally a slim­line pat­tern such as a Dab­bler or Pen­nell. Fi­nally, there’s an­other three feet to the point( end) fly which is usu­ally tied on a heav­ier hook to an­chor the cast. This point fly is of­ten as parse Pen nell or in some cases – although not strictly tra­di­tional – a Beaded PTN or Beaded Spi­der. Cast out a short line and work the flies back with two-foot long pulls if there’s a breeze. The bushy flies cre­ate a sur­face wake, which at­tracts the fish. Trout may take this ‘wake’ or ‘bob’ fly but of­ten take the slim­mer mid­dle drop­per or point fly. In a calm, use sparse flies fished buzzer-style with a fig­ure-of-eight re­trieve. In a very strong wind, in­crease the speed of the re­trieve, and slow it down when calmer.

Mod­ern tweaks

Many of the new Fritz ma­te­ri­als have found their way into tra­di­tional wet fly dress­ings – al­beit in a sub­tle way. They add a new di­men­sion to an old theme so to speak. The re­sult is that th­ese flies will live on for a very long time as new ma­te­ri­als merely add to their ap­peal. What­ever their fu­ture holds, re­mem­ber that the an­cient ty­ers didn’t have the easy ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion that we have to­day, and in­stead re­lied on sug­ges­tion and skill to catch fish. A Bibio was tied to rep­re­sent ter­res­trial flies and an Inv icta to copy an emerg­ing sedge to a de­gree. To­day we can tie more ex­act copies with far more ma­te­ri­als at our dis­posal.

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