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A New Way of Fishing a Dry Dropper, with Josh Miller

Description: Josh Miller [43:10] is a guide and has been a competitive angler and coach for years and he, like many young fly fishers, is an innovative angler who doesn't rely only on older methods of fly fishing but develops his own techniques based on how he wants his flies to drift. This is a geeky one with some rambling, but I think Josh has some thought-provoking ideas that will get many of us thinking.
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Podcast Transcript:

Tom: Hi, and welcome to the "Orvis Fly Fishing Podcast." This is your host, Tom Rosenbauer. And my guest today for the interview is Josh Miller. Josh is a young fishing guide from Pennsylvania, who's also been a competitive angler on the U.S. team and a coach. And Josh [00:00:30.373] has a very different way of fishing dry droppers. It's using a euro-type rod and a long, fine-level leader to fish dry droppers. And there are lots of advantages to this method, particularly for close in fishing with a dry dropper. And so, Josh goes into his way of rigging and fishing this way. And he also talks a bit about floating the sighter. You know, we talk a lot about [00:01:00.329] tightline or euro nymphing with these long limber rods, but we don't talk as much about dry fly fishing and dry dropper fishing. And Josh has some pretty cool ways of doing it. It gets a little geeky and a little complicated, and we ramble a bit, but it's very thought-provoking. And I think if you're interested in learning new ways of fishing with a fly rod, I think you'll be very, very interested in this podcast.
[00:01:30.732] Before we go to the fly box, just an announcement. I have a hosted trip at Three Rivers Ranch in Warm River, Idaho and it's going to be September 28th to October 5th. And there's a possibility of a two-day extension. So you'd be able to fish two extra days, of course, for an extra charge. Three Rivers is one of my favorite places in the world. We fish the Henry's Fork [00:02:00.754] and the South Fork of the Snake and the Teton River. And there are other rivers in the area in small streams to fish. The guides are first-rate, very, very experienced guides. The food there is spectacular.
The lodge is rustic but extremely comfortable and, I think, luxurious. And it's just a fun time. I've done this now for the past three years, and we just have a wonderful time. [00:02:30.618] The weather has cooled down. Crowds are a lot less dense in that part of the world, and it's just a wonderful trip. So, if you wanna go fishing with me contact Orvis Travel, and there's a listing on the Orvis Travel website for this trip and you can find out more information. My trips generally fill up, so if you're interested, I wouldn't wait too long [00:03:00.158] to try to sign up. And I hope to see you there.
And now the fly box where you ask me questions or you comment on something or you offer a tip for other listeners. And if you wanna send a question or a comment, you can send them to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can either just type it into your email or you can attach a voice file using the voice recording option [00:03:30.112] on your smartphone. I read them all. I don't answer them all, but I do read them all and I'm the only one that reads them. So, you can say whatever you want. Anyway, let's get into the fly box.
And the first question is an email from Mo in Western New York. "Enjoy the podcast very much. There's been a lot of buzz about the new generation Helios. [00:04:00.799] I like the Quatro Monitor myself, which I'm looking forward to trying out. Advancement in rod technology is always exciting and as a vintage rod collector, it's fun to see how rods perform from 50 years ago compared to modern ones. I have owned dozens of Orvis rods, beginning with the original Reverse Ferra [SP] model up to modern Helios models, but would like to ask you about your experience. Do you have a model or taper that you enjoyed in the past [00:04:30.796] and kept in your collection still using on occasion, such as the Far N Fine, Tippet, Flea, etc.? Just a fun little question to someone who has virtually had access to any one of hundreds of the models and tapers throughout the years."
Well, Mo, that's a good question. And for the most part, when a new model of graphite rod comes out, I generally give my older rods away to local [00:05:00.807] young people or to TU chapters because, honestly, they just keep getting better. And so, since I don't have to pay for them, I don't worry about it, unlike you people. But there is one rod that I still have in my collection that's old. In fact, I have two of them. I don't keep many of the older models around because, again, I give them away. But [00:05:30.715] there's an old rod called the Ultra Fine, which was a 7-foot-9-inch for a 2-weight.
And I just love this rod. It's super, super slow, back in the old Orvis Super Fine era when actually all the rods were kind of that super fine taper. And even with a 2-weight line, it flexes way down into the butt and it's very slow and I think very, very delicate. And it's a lot of fun [00:06:00.508] with small fish. So, I still do pull out that 7-foot-9-inch Ultra Fine on occasion. But I think that's about the only old Orvis rod that I continue to fish. I generally go to the newer models.
Eric: Yeah. Hi, Tom, this is Eric Taylor from Alameda, California. And I have a question. I hope this is the right phone number for the podcast. I enjoy the podcast, like everybody. It's great to lift weights to, [00:06:30.781] gets me through the pain. So, I'm a long-time fly fisherman. But the beauty of fly fishing, of course, is there's still so much to learn even after all these decades. And one of my questions is about euro nymphing, which, you know, I think I'm a pretty good indicator nympher, but I am exploring more euro nymphing with a 10-foot, 4-weight rod. You know, I know sort of the basics, you know, throw on three perdigons, get close, [00:07:00.563] pocket water, etc.
But my question is this. What if I'm on a river in which I want to both euro nymph and also put on an indicator for, like, when the river gets wider and I wanna cast across? My question is, can I work a river both switching back euro nymphing and traditional nymphing, and especially as relates to the sighter material, which I think I would need to use, right, for euro nymphing? [00:07:30.991] Is the sighter material, is that just kind of level [inaudible 00:07:33.959], you know, that I can put an indicator on or would I have to change out my rig? In other words, am I sort of dedicated to euro nymphing or could I go back and forth? Okay. I appreciate any answers or information you can give me. Thank you. Have a good day. Bye-bye.
Tom: So, Eric, you can euro nymph with a standard rod. [00:08:00.533] Generally, it's better if the rod is longer. So, you know, a standard rod, like a 10-foot, 4-weight is a good rod that will do euro nymphing okay. But you can also throw dry flies and nymph rigs and smaller streamers with. But there is a problem in that the more conventional fly rods don't have that really soft tip. And the specialty [00:08:30.982] euro rods have a very, very soft tip so that you could flip those weighted nymphs upstream or cross-stream on a light leader, and they'll load with just a water load with those flies on the end. So, they're a little more accurate. They're quite a bit more sensitive than a conventional rod.
And also, you're often using very light tippets 5x, 6x, 7x with these euro nymphing rigs because [00:09:00.904] it helps you get helps you get your nymph through the water column quicker. And these rods have a really soft tip, so you can play even quite large fish because they have a lot of tipper protection, but you can do it. And I'd advise you before you go out and buy a euro rod to try it with your standard rod. See if you like it. And that'll give you an idea of, I think, why you might need a different kind of rod if you're serious about euro [00:09:30.485] nymphing.
Sighter material can be lots of different things. That's usually a bright-colored monofilament that's incorporated into your leader, usually a short section. The Orvis sighter material's nice because it has three different colors, so you have, kind of, three points of contact to look at when it's drifting and it shows up easier under varying light conditions. There's a fluorescent wax you can put on your leader [00:10:00.444] and you can also fish a little tiny strike indicator and put that on your leader. So, there's lots of different ways to do it. Scientific Anglers has a waterproof paint that you can apply to your leader to make it a sighter. So, lots of different ways of doing it, but it just enables you to watch that leader as your flies tick along the bottom.
The one thing you're going to have to do when switching from traditional nymphing [00:10:30.878] with an indicator or a dry dropper is you really need to change your leader. So, what most people do is they carry a longer sighter leader in their leader wallet or in their pocket or whatever. And then if they're switching from conventional nymphing to euro nymphing, they just switch out the leader. Because conventional nymphing with an indicator or with a dry dropper, or just naked nymphing with just a single nymph at a fairly long distance, [00:11:00.703] you do need a tapered leader. Whereas in euro nymphing, you want a longer lighter leader so that it doesn't sag when you hold your rod tip high and follow it through the water.
All right, let's do another email. This one is from Orin [SP]. "First, wanted to thank you for all you've done for fly fishing community. Your books introduced my dad to this sport 20 years ago [00:11:30.968] and your videos have nurtured me as I wade into this magnificent pastime. I live in the Seattle area and began fly fishing over the summer. I usually drive and bike with my dad to some local rivers and lakes for trout and bass, but I've also gone to some beaches to try my hand at sea run cutthroat. I've been using my 6-weight when searching for them, but I was wondering if a spey rod would be a good idea to swing some streamers. Do you have any tips for using spey rods and salt water?
I also go to my grandparents near Boston [00:12:00.984] during the summer to fish for stripers, usually on the rocks, but occasionally on flats. So, any tips for catching them on the spey would be much appreciated. Specifically, should I do a strip retrieve, something, to my understanding, you mostly avoid when spey fishing rivers, or try a swing in the current? I am not the strongest caster, so spey rods really help me get sufficient distance on my cast. Alternatively, I could just use a heavier rod with a shooting head if you think that is best.
Around Christmas, my dad [00:12:30.840] showed me his fly-tying kit and I began tying my own flies. I recently caught my first fish on a fly I tied, a 10-inch rainbow, on what I think was supposed to be a lightning bug. After two fish took that fly, including the one I landed, the thing was a mess. The threat had come undone and it was barely hanging together. After 15-plus years of sitting in storage, my dad's head cement had glued its own lid to the jar, and I'm unable to open it. As a result, I've been using super glue [00:13:00.670] to secure the flies, coupled with some half-hitch knots. The thread I've been using is 70, whatever the unit is, which I believe it means it is on the thinner side. Did my fly come undone due to the super glue being ineffective, or did I just tie a poor knot? Would you recommend getting a new bottle of head cement or UV resin or do you have any tips for opening mine?"
So Orin, first of all, you can definitely use a spey rod in salt water. [00:13:30.798] For the most part, you want one that you can cast single handed because it may be difficult from shore or from the surf to get a D loop unless you wait out quite a ways. So, you may wanna get one that's a little bit on the lighter side. Maybe a 7-weight spey rod, 6 or a 7-weight spey rod for saltwater fishing. One that you can cast single handed. But it will allow you to get that distance. [00:14:00.564] Now, you're gonna probably most of the time be stripping in salt water. You're gonna wanna strip your fly, so you're gonna wanna retain control of it. But there are times if you get into a current, you know, in an estuary or in a tidal river, you can actually swing a fly with a spey rod just like you would for steelhead or trout. But you gotta have some current. So, for the most part, you're gonna be stripping.
Now, the one thing [00:14:30.540] I wouldn't advise is when you go to fish for striped bass, I would leave that spey rod behind when you're fishing the flats. Okay from the rocks where you don't need a lot of delicacy. But in general, stripers on the flats are pretty spooky, need a long leader. You need a fairly delicate cast and spey rod's probably gonna slam things down too hard and just isn't gonna give you the control. [00:15:00.391] So, on the flats, I would recommend an 8 or a 9-foot rod and a floating or a clear tip line because the spey rod isn't gonna work very well on the flats.
Regarding your head cement, just get a new bottle of head cement. I mean, you probably could soak the top half of the jar in acetone to clear that lid and then use a pair of pliers to open up. [00:15:30.336] But the head cement itself is probably gonna need some thinner. And unless you know exactly what kind of head cement it is, you can put the wrong thinner in there and then ruin it. So, my advice is just buy a new jar of head cement. And I think that standard head cement is a lot more versatile than UV resin. UV resin is good for coating certain things and it's handy. But in general, if you want an [00:16:00.201] all-around adhesive, you know, general head cement or clear nail polish. Sally Hansen is a favorite of a lot of people. Clear nail polish will work that you could get in a local drugstore, that works quite well.
Super glue should hold the heads on your flies. I don't like it because sometimes it leaves a whitish residue, but it should seal those thread wraps. What I think is [00:16:30.014] maybe you didn't put on enough super glue to fully coat the head. You wanna coat it on both sides. And also whip finish is better than half-hitches when you finish a fly. You don't need a whip finish tool. You can do it with your hands. There's lots of videos on YouTube showing you how to do a hand-whip finish. I think it's better than a couple of half-hitches and more secure. And you know what, sometimes the heads [00:17:00.308] on your flies are just gonna come apart. So I wouldn't agonize too much over one fly falling apart. It's just gonna happen to you once in a while.
Here's another email from Todd from Asheville, North Carolina. "I have a tip and a question. My tip is on cutting metal materials when tying flies. Instead of helicoptering wire or lead wrappings, I just purchased an inexpensive pair of scissors just for cutting metal. They work great and save me some time. Also, I keep a crystal saver [00:17:30.366] by DMT on my desk to sharpen my scissors whenever they get dull. I hate dull scissors, and this always keeps them sharp.
Now for my question. My friend and I fished the Oconaluftee River in the Cherokee Indian Reservation yesterday. This week they're holding the Fly Fishing National Championships on that reservation, so we felt like we were one step away from fishing at that level. Haha. My buddy is a dedicated euro nympher. [00:18:00.766] I like more variety, but it kills me to see him just reel in fish after fish. Do I just need to get over it? My question is, when is it best to fish with a bamboo rod? Yesterday was clearly a nymphing kind of day. I stopped fishing, dry dropper immediately, and went to nymphing. What conditions are best for bamboo? I really feel like I'm stepping back in history, but I still wanna catch fish. I don't wanna collect bamboo rods, I wanna catch fish with them."
So, Todd, thanks for your tip. And I just ordered [00:18:30.396] one of those sharpeners. I've never had much luck sharpening scissors myself. Usually, just, you know, when they get too dull, I use them for household uses or, as you said, for cutting tinsel and wire and stuff. But I'm gonna try one of those sharpeners and see if I can...I got a couple pairs of scissors that are a little dull, and I think I'm gonna try it. So, thanks for that tip. And I'll report back on how well I do with sharpening my own scissors. [00:19:00.917] Regarding your question, of course, on the euro nymphing thing, yeah, you nailed it. You just gotta get over it. Euro nymphing is deadly and effective under the right conditions in the right type of water. And somebody else, somebody that's fishing euro nymphs is probably gonna catch more fish than you. But you said you like variety. I do too. And so, you just gotta learn to live with it. They're gonna catch more fish than you will.
[00:19:30.015] Regarding your bamboo rod, really depends on the bamboo rod, but there are a lot of bamboo rods that are perfectly adequate and perform really well for fishing. Everything from a tiny dry fly to a big streamer. Depends on the taper and the bamboo rods. Some of the tapers and bamboo rods are made in a very delicate way, and you probably wouldn't wanna throw a big streamer on them. But other bamboo rods can be quite powerful and you can throw indicators and [00:20:00.813] split shot and all kinds of stuff with them. So, again, it really depends on what model of bamboo rod you have. But you can really do anything you can do with any other fly rod with a bamboo rod if you have the right model.
Martin: Hi, Tom. My name is Martin. I live in Colorado, and although I've been fishing most of my life, I didn't really start fly fishing until about four years ago. Your podcast was a big part of how I learned to fly fish, [00:20:30.475] and it introduced me to books. And of course, your guests taught us about fly fishing techniques and all the different types of fishing that are available. So, I really appreciate what you do here. My question is about fly fishing clubs. I don't know that you've covered it very much on the podcast, and I certainly didn't really know about fly fishing clubs until recently. And I joined a fly fishing club here in Denver called [00:21:00.452] the High Plains Drifters. Went to the first meeting. I was completely amazed at the community. They have guest speakers. They do a lot of things in the fishing community, river cleanups, things like that.
Once a month they have a fly tying session, and they also have a fly fishing trip. So, these are the clubs that are low cost, not the ones that are high priced and give you access to private water, [00:21:30.556] but really just all about community and just fishing together. So, I was wondering if you belong to fly fishing clubs over the years, and if there are fly fishing clubs in most areas in the U.S.? Is it a common thing? Is it common outside the U.S.? Anyway, I am very curious about your experiences and I'd love to hear your thoughts on fly fishing clubs. Anyway, thanks again, Tom, for all that you do for the sport and [00:22:00.025] for what Orvis does for conservation. Thank you.
Tom: Martin, you are absolutely right. Clubs are great, particularly for participating in conservation events. And they're also a good way for someone who moves to a new area or someone who is just starting out in fly fishing to meet like-minded people and to maybe find some new fishing buddies and get invited on fishing trips. So, they are great. And of course, it magnifies your power as a conservationist because you're speaking with [00:22:30.826] many voices instead of just one. There are local clubs that are not affiliated with the national organization. You're just gonna have look those up. A web search should help you. But both Trout Unlimited and the IFF or International Fly Fishers have chapters and clubs all around the country. And if you go to either the Trout Unlimited website [00:23:00.868] or the IFF website, you'll be able to find the name of a chapter near you. Most major metropolitan areas and a lot of rural communities do have Trout Unlimited or IFF chapters. I'm not a big club person, but I do belong to our local Trout Unlimited [00:23:30.647] chapter. But other than that, I don't join many clubs just because, I don't know, I'm not that social.
Here's an email from Dan from Central Connecticut. "Two quick questions. You always mention how underlining a rod is a no-no. But how about underlining a fiberglass rod since it takes much less effort to load up? My second question, I have an old weight-forward, 5-weight line kicking around, is it possible to cut the taper off down to the running line to achieve a lighter weight [00:24:00.592] for use in close quarters on small streams?"
So, Dan, regarding your first question, you can probably underline a fiberglass rod, but then you're kind of defeating the purpose because you're making the rod faster and stiffer and you're not gonna have those same qualities that a lot of people enjoy in fiberglass rods. And it depends on the model too. It depends on what brand and what particular model, [00:24:30.562] whether you can effectively underline it or not. But I would try, if you have a fiberglass rod, you wanna try underlining it. Give it a try and see how well it works.
Regarding your second question, you really can't cut down a 5-weight line to make it a lighter weight line because the lighter part of a weight-forward beyond 35 feet is really gonna be just level line. [00:25:00.983] It tapers down for most of them pretty quickly. And knowing exactly where to cut it to get a lighter line is gonna be tricky. You could probably do it, but most of it's gonna be level and I don't think it'll work. I mean, if you're making really short casts, I guess a level line is okay. But I don't think that's a great idea. I wouldn't try it.
Here's an email from Scott. [00:25:30.879] "I live in central Maryland and have two questions for you. The first one is related to fly tying. I've been tying some egg-laying Grannom Caddis dry flies for the upcoming early season in Pennsylvania. The problem I seem to be having is when I try to tie in the rabbit firm, my thread keeps jumping forward, even when I try a pinch wrap. Any suggestions on how I solve this problem? The second question I have is in regards to snakeheads. In the summer, I have fished some back rivers of the Chesapeake Bay and caught some snakeheads on a spinning rod. [00:26:00.744] What kind of fly rod setup would you use to catch snakeheads? Could you do a podcast on this invasive but delicious fish?"
Now, Scott, I can answer your first question. I can't answer your second question. Regarding your first question, there's an easy trick to making your thread jump backward. And that is to spin your bobbin, as you're looking down on it, spin it counterclockwise. Just give it a couple spins. [00:26:30.693] This will make the thread jump backward. And when you do a pinch wrap, the thread will jump in between your fingers and then you can do a good pinch wrap. I think that's what you're referring to. And of course, if you do want the thread to jump forward, then you just spin your bobbin clockwise. That's a pretty handy trick that a lot of people use and it works quite well.
Regarding snakeheads, I've never fished for them, I've never caught one. [00:27:00.416] I don't think I wanna do podcast on them because they're pretty limited, luckily. They're pretty limited in range, so I don't have any suggestions for you other than you're probably gonna need a fairly heavy fly rod and some sort of large fly to catch their attention. If anyone on the podcast has had some success with snakeheads, maybe you wanna drop me an email and I'll share it on the podcast. But don't hold your breath for a podcast [00:27:30.554] on snakeheads.
Here's an email from Paul in Pennsylvania. "Tom, I have a question about the size of wild trout in the waters of Pennsylvania and the factors that determine size and number of trout in our streams. Here in the limestone streams I fish in central Pennsylvania, the sizes of trout is very predictable. The largest trout are in the bigger waters, and the smaller streams hold smaller fish. Why is that? One local spring creek has the highest number of wild brown trout per mile in the state, but the average size is quite small, [00:28:00.421] mostly under 10 inches. Why is this? What factors determine size versus numbers of fish? All these are limestone streams with prolific bug hatches, yet some streams tend to grow large trout, others just greater numbers of small fish. The smaller streams have deep runs and seem to have just as much protein in the form of crayfish and sculpins. So why the small fish?
Also, why do tailwaters out West generally produce bigger trout than here in the East? Is it because the water is more consistently [00:28:30.684] cooler in these Western tailwaters? It seems that the limestone streams here have almost the same cool water as out West, especially now with global warming and our hatches seem to produce just as many bugs. Are there any other factors involved that I'm not aware of?"
Well, Paul, there's a lot of science on this subject. Basically, a trout will grow larger if it can [00:29:00.302] obtain food easily without expending a lot of energy. Trout experience what's called indeterminate growth in that they continue to grow throughout their life, although they do slow down when they get bigger. But, you know, even though the small streams that you fish, the smaller streams may have some crayfish and sculpins, they don't have the same abundance [00:29:30.614] because in a larger river, you're talking about very, very big expansive riffles that dump into the pools and the deeper water where fish live, and they just are going to be able to get more food and not waste a lot of energy.
Also, bigger rivers typically have more crayfish, and they also have places where trout can actually go out and hunt. [00:30:00.720] They can go into slower water in the shallows at night and hunt for bigger food forms. Larger rivers are also gonna be a little warmer and they're probably gonna have more bait fish in them, chubs and sculpins and dace and things like that. So, it's mainly a question of available food supply and the smaller streams just don't provide that constant amount of food that a larger river will. [00:30:30.487] Now I have fact, it's interesting, I was just in Chile and we fished a little tiny spring creek, and I mean tiny to the point where you could easily step across it without jumping, and the trout in there were quite large.
And I asked one of the guides...The trout were literally longer than the stream is wide. You know, they were 15, 16, 17 [00:31:00.225] inches in this little tiny, tiny stream. And I asked the guide, I said, "Why do these trout grow so big in this little stream?" And he said, "Well, there's a lot of scuds in there." And, you know, scuds are an aquatic freshwater crustacean that are often available in incredible numbers. And the fish can just sit there in these weed channels and constantly gorge on scuds, so they can grow quite large in a little tiny stream. Generally though, small streams [00:31:30.163] don't have that same food supply, that same constant food supply, and they're just not gonna produce fish as large as the bigger rivers.
Regarding Western rivers, that's a really good question. I think that for the most part, Western tailwaters, the fish can feed more year-round than they do in the Eastern United States. [00:32:00.886] And I think that a lot of it's due to the fact that Western rivers...for one thing, Western rivers have a higher alkalinity content, so they're gonna be more productive in terms of food than Eastern rivers in general. But you're talking about limestone streams in Pennsylvania, which should have the same degree of alkalinity, which again, produces growth.
But the issue, I think, it's just my theory, is that you get more [00:32:30.530] sunny days, you get more solar heat in the Western United States. The rivers are more wide open, they warm quicker during the winter, and the fish have more...and when the water warms, their metabolism is gonna increase and they're gonna feed more. And I think the fish just have more opportunities to feed year-round. Whereas in the Wast, as we all know, a lot of the winter is pretty cloudy and the water temperatures don't get up there because we don't have as much solar heat. [00:33:00.679] Now, that's just my crazy theory, and I don't know if that's true, but, you know, in general, Western rivers do produce larger trout.
Here's an email from Rick. "Tom, I recently was swept away in a river while fly fishing. After struggling for about a hundred yards, I managed to reach the side of the river, grab hold of some reeds and stoop myself. It was too close for comfort and in the effort to swim myself to shore, I had to throw [00:33:30.288] a very nice rod into the water and never saw it again. Can you recommend any type of PFD that would be safe and comfortable to wear while fishing? I really only wear vests, so I don't wanna be too encumbered. I'd like to hear your advice on this issue. Also, it would be good segment for you to do something on water safety because as we age, we aren't as agile and spry as we once were, and safety is a big issue for some of us."
Well, thank you, Rick. And I do plan on doing a podcast [00:34:00.693] on wading and water safety in another month or so. I've been trying to set something up with Ralph Cutter, who has done a lot of experimentation on wading safety and getting to shore, and getting yourself out of trouble. And he's written some really good articles about that, so I will get him on and we'll talk about that. But PFD is a good idea. [00:34:30.615] Now, you can buy kind of a standard filled PFD that has pockets in it. So, if you're used to wearing a vest, you can buy a PFD that has quite a few pockets in it. It will hold some fly boxes in your gear and stuff, so you can wear that instead of your vest if you are in really dangerous conditions.
[00:35:00.710] Your other option is, and this is one that guides use on rafts a lot, are those carbon dioxide capsule-fueled PFDs that don't inflate until you pull a trigger on them, and then they inflate so that they're fairly light underneath a fishing vest and they're comfortable, yet when you need them, you just pull the ripcord [00:35:30.746] and they will inflate and turn into a PFD. You wanna make sure that you buy one that's Coast Guard-approved. And the CO2 ones early on weren't Coast Guard-approved, but I believe you can get ones that are Coast Guard-approved now. So, either way is good, I guess, depending on how much gear you wanna take on the river.
Here's an email from Steve in Michigan. "Hi, Tom. I'm still relatively new to fly tying. One reason I got into it was becoming too hard [00:36:00.699] and too expensive to find reloading components to reload shotshells for shooting. Now I'm having a hard time finding some fly-tying materials, mainly dry fly hackle, 100 packs from Whiting in larger sizes such as Coachman Brown and Grizzly in size 12. Other colors are absent as well. I've had a little better luck with size 14 and 16, but color choices are limited, even full and half caps are limited. Poly yarn on cardboard is also becoming a rarity. [00:36:30.540] I've visited four fly shops over the past couple weeks and come up empty. What is going on?"
Well, Steve, first of all, the trend toward dry fly saddle in capes that are raised for fly tying, unfortunately, has been really focused on the smaller sizes, the 14s, 16s, 18s, 20s, 22s, and so on. [00:37:00.414] And I have also had a lot of difficulty finding grizzly and brown, in particular in saddle hackle that will tie a size 12. It's rare to find them and they don't grow them that way, unfortunately. You can find it, but it's more difficult. So, you're just gonna have to look around. And the only other option is to go to a cape. [00:37:30.769] Generally, when you get a cape, you can get those bigger feathers, those 12s and 14s, but finding good dry fly size 12 and 14 saddles these days is extremely difficult. And that's just the way the current flock of birds is bred.
I think that probably a Keough cape, I think you're gonna have better luck. Whiting feathers are really, really good, [00:38:00.643] whiting saddles, but I think you're gonna have better luck in those bigger sizes with the Keough brand capes. I've used those myself and I like them, particularly for bigger flies, but I like them for most hackles. So, you know, your best friend is gonna be the internet. Finding that, and also finding poly, I don't know why you want poly yarn on cardboard. Poly yarn is available either [00:38:30.939] just stuffed in a bag or on spool, and it's fairly easy to find. I don't think you should have any trouble finding that, maybe on cardboard, but I'm not sure why you want it specifically on cardboard. But again, a quick internet search is going to help you find hopefully both some bigger dry fly hackles and the poly yarn that you want.
The other thing, Steve, is that [00:39:00.666] there's a lot of different fly tie materials around and fly shops, unfortunately, just can't inventory all the different fly time materials. It's really tough for most of them to carry everything you're gonna need. So, you know, I like to buy my materials at a fly shop where I can see them as well. But there are times when you have to go online and get stuff that you just can't find at your local fly shop.
Evan: Hey, Tom, this is Evan from San Rafael, California. [00:39:30.449] Thanks for all the interesting tips on the podcast. And I've got a couple questions about leaders and tippet. I fish mainly for trout in the Sierras of California. And so, often I'm fishing maybe a small creek or river at one point in the day and then switch to fishing a lake. And so, I often have to adjust my leader either bigger or smaller. And on previous podcasts you've mentioned sometimes adding tippet and sometimes adding a butt section. [00:40:00.551] And so, I'm just wondering when should you add butt section versus tippet? Either when you're making a leader bigger or smaller, either one. And then also sometimes you mention when you're trying to extend the tippet on a pre-made leader, you, you know, cut back the tippet that's on the tapered leader a foot or two to where it starts to get bigger and then add, you know, 3 or 4 feet of tippet on. Why bother doing that? Why cut back the leader and then [00:40:30.602] add 4 feet instead of just adding 2 feet of tippet onto the tippet that's on the pre-made leader to begin with? So, anyway, look forward to your answer. Thanks. Bye.
Tom: So Evan, I think it's a pretty easy answer to this question. Here's how I do it. If I wanna lengthen my leader to decrease drag, if I've got a lot of tricky currents, then I will add tippet [00:41:00.538] to my leader because the more tippet you have on there the tippet is gonna be less influenced by the current than the heavier more massive butt section of a leader or your fly line. So, adding more tippet will help you avoid drag. If I wanna lengthen my leader, such as you stated from going from a small stream to the lake, then I will add butt material to the leader to make it longer. [00:41:30.772] So, that's kind of how I see it. And sometimes if I wanna both have a longer leader and decrease drag, I'll add to the butt and to the tippet. But that's the kind of the rule of thumb I use and, hopefully, that's helpful.
Regarding cutting back existing tippet on a knotless leader, I just like to know how long my tippet is to make sure it's long enough. And with a knotless leader, [00:42:00.732] you can guess where your tippet ends and where the midsection starts to taper up, but it's often a guess. And I just would rather know that I've got 2 or 3 or 4 feet of tippet on the end than trying to guess. You can add tippet to an existing knotless leader. There's nothing wrong with that, but I just do it that way so that I know how long they are. And generally what I do is if I want [00:42:30.043] a 9-foot 4X leader, I buy 9-foot 3X, I cut that tippet, you know, back to where it's just tapering in from 3X to 2X and you can do this just by holding your tippet alongside it and eyeballing it. And then I'll add 4X tippet to that 3X leader. So, I generally buy a kind of one size heavier and then put a slightly lighter tippet on them. That's the way I do it. But yeah, you can do it any way you want.
All right. [00:43:00.319] That is the fly box for this week. Let's go talk to Josh about some very interesting ways of fishing a dry dropper. So, my guest today is Josh Miller, and Josh is a...I guess you'd call yourself a retired member of the U.S. fly fishing team, right? Because you're not on it anymore.
Josh: Yeah. Not on it anymore. Who knows though. It's something that once I kind of went through [00:43:30.948] that process and made the team, it's something that I always kind of, in the back of my mind, I'm like, "I wanna do that again someday." So, who knows? Who knows?
Tom: Yeah. Well, certainly learned a lot of cool stuff and cross-pollinated with anglers from all over the world and you're now a guide. And what's the name of your guide service again?
Josh: My guide service is Trout Yeah Guide Service. We're in Pennsylvania and a couple of good places, but it's just a fun way to make a living.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah. I couldn't do it. [00:44:00.776] So hats off to you. I'd be a terrible guide. But anyway, wanna talk about, you came up this summer and fished with Sean Combs and Jesse Haller and I think...did you fish with Will too, the product developers?
Josh: Yeah, I met Will, there were a couple other people there.
Tom: And Natalie. Yep. And they were pretty blown away by a technique that you used, a different way, a new way to us [00:44:30.654] anyways, of fishing dry droppers. And you pretty much cleaned up on the Batten kill. And the next time I fished with those guys, they were all fishing like you. So, you really impressed them. And, you know, what's cool about fly fishing is you're always learning something new, especially from young guys like yourself. So, I wanted to talk about that, and I wanted to talk about floating the sighter today. You know, there are two kind of [00:45:00.414] euro tightline techniques that are not the same as what most people think of when they think of tightline fishing. So, I thought they would be interesting to talk about, and you can talk about your methods. So, I know you wanted to kind of set the stage a little bit for that. So, I'm gonna shut up and let you talk.
Josh: Yeah. Thanks, Tom. It was an honor, truthfully, to go up and fish with John and that group of incredibly knowledgeable [00:45:30.453] and productive or those just guys up there. It was neat to fish the Batten Kill. I've never fished it before. And it was kind of a funny experience. I was on the way up and Doug Bayer [SP] know Doug, I'm sure. He's like, you know, "You gotta come up for this." And I was on my way. I live about...I don't know, I'm in Pittsburgh, PA and that was Vermont. And it was the night before I started my drive, about three-and-a-half hours, two-and-a-half, three-and-a-half hours of my drive, [00:46:00.196] my van broke down. Oh, my gosh. I made it home and then got my other car and finally, you know, left.
Wee hours in the morning, got there with about 25 minutes of spare before my presentation. It was very...You know, there's many times I'm like, "What am I doing? Why am I doing this?" But, you know, going up and being able to have an audience like that was pretty special. So that was a cool thing to me. But I really do enjoy what I've been lucky to learn through, you know, [00:46:30.919] fishing around the world, being the head coach of the USU team, you know, recently off a world championship win in Bosnia. And just the people that have helped us along the way learn these techniques, and it's special. And, you know, it's cool, it's fun to me.
But before I kind of get into how I fish those, or specifics about some of those techniques, I wanna kind of share a little background of, you know, why I do what I do and the purpose behind [00:47:00.824] how we teach and everything. Because I think it's really important when people understand that, then they can understand the technique or why I teach it the way I do, or what the purpose of it is. So, like, you know, my style of teaching and how I teach my anglers, or the youth team, whatever, it's like, you know, I don't have all the answers, I don't know everything and that's just the truth. I don't think anyone can. But more importantly, I try to encourage thought-provoking ideas, encourage deeper thinking, [00:47:30.719] understanding of what's going on, understanding of what's the purpose of that drift. I know the men that say slow down the fly, and then you need to figure out how to, you know?
Those are the kind of things I think are more important and we can get a lot more out of if that's what you're trying to do as a fisherman. You know, that problem-solving kind of mindset is really where I'm always...If you think about it, we step back here, [00:48:00.448] if someone's like, I wanna catch more fish or whatever their purpose is, if you have a reason why you're doing something, you can focus on that, and then more fish come versus just men, you know? So that's kind of how I...because all water's different. You know, with 10 CFS verse 50, it's gonna fish different. So you can't say one technique always, or one way always, or one weight always. You know, you just gotta be dynamic.
But I think it's important, how I teach my people is, [00:48:30.788] you know, what people tell you, listen to it, respect it, but also question it. Question, you know, what you know, what you learn, what you're taught, what someone's teaching you. And a little bit of respectful, is the key word, disagreeance is good. You know, when someone come to me and they're like, "Dude, I don't agree with what you're saying." I'm like, "That's good." And that provokes such a deeper conversation, and then we all learn. And I think sometimes that's lost a little bit. [00:49:00.820] So, what I do is in my own personal fishing or how I become good at what I do or whatever, it's having a process and to have techniques that create a process is kind of what I should say, a series of techniques way I fish with euro nymphing or the euro nymphing umbrella.
So, what I mean by that is, like, what you're saying, euro nymphing could be two nymphs, it could be one nymph, could be floating the sighter. And I also kind of want umbrella [00:49:30.875] dry dropper on a euro nymph setup on under that same umbrella because we're using the same leader, the same gear, same weight. Okay. So, that's what I mean by, you know, euro nymphing. It could be direct line with a single nymph, two nymphs. It could be floating a sighter with three speeders long distance away or dry drop, or with weighted underneath on that same setup. Okay.
So, what I look for in my technique that is important to me is things like this, the ability to be [00:50:00.647] versatile with that technique and not have to physically change my setup all the time, that adjustability. But most important, and this is, like, super deep thinking. I want a technique that teaches me. What do I mean by that? I want something that I can use, watch or see or whatever, and it's giving clues on things like disconnection, the fly sweeping downstream, bite detection, this and that. When I have techniques like that, [00:50:30.720] I can become a much better angler, and we'll talk about that deeply in the dry dropper when we kind of get into technique.
But that's kind of, like, you know, things that...if people are listening to this, they're either like, this kid's crazy or, like, he's really thinking, which we're really trying to think about more of what we're doing and why we're doing it versus, you know, a lot of the other aspects of fly fishing. That kind of brings me down to, like, removing variables. There's so many variables on, you know, fly fishing, [00:51:00.986] where you stand, how you cast, or how the fly lands in the water, fly patterns, blah, blah, blah. The list goes on and on. It's too much for me to, you know, understand all those things, so I try to boil down...You know what I mean? It's too much.
Tom: Yeah. There's a lot of variables. There's a ton of variables. You are absolutely right.
Josh: But the thing is, it's a lot. So, I try to just control the things that I can and the things that I'm good at. And that is more [00:51:30.576] relying on technique or relying on my process of technique. So what that means is having maybe this sighter angle, that sighter angle, this floating the sighter, this way of floating the sighter, and having this progression of technique to catch fish versus, you know, relying on the fly. So, I think if you rely on the fly, you blame the fly and you don't necessarily grow your technique or expand your methods. You rely on the fly, which I'm not...I need to step back because people are gonna be like, "Whoa, the fly matters." [00:52:00.422] Of course, it does. There's times where the fly 100% matters, but there's a lot more of it than just that, I promise.
So, what I call that is the 365-day angler. So, I rely on my technique to be good to catch fish 365 days a year around the world versus that tailwater that someone's thinking about right now with that size 26 mid, specifically on this day, or Penns Creek with the Green Drake size 6. You know? [00:52:30.710] So, to me, it's too hard to have all those specific flies all the time to be, you know, really good. I'm sure if I had the specific fly that they're eating and I had a good technique, I'd catch more. For me, it's too much. You know, like Penns Creek alone, I think had...I forget who told me this, maybe it's Greg Hubert [SP], really, really amazing guy from Penn State back in the day. I think he said, like, Penns Creek has 100 variations of caddisfly. Someone can correct me. But it was something like that.
[00:53:00.369] To me, I think that we know that round shot up in that riffle-eating caddis, category number 71, all of brown shade. And this one down here is eating size 16, number 42 category...It's just too much. Too much. So, I really try to rely on a good progression of technique with...and what that means is progression of techniques...sorry, I'm getting ahead of ways to provide the fly to the fish in different ways, at different speeds, [00:53:30.602] at different depths, with slack, with tension, with...You know, if you can do that, you'll catch more fish. I'm just positive of it. Not all the time, but 365 days around the world. Does that kind of make sense?
Tom: Yeah. Totally makes sense.
Josh: Sorry, that was a mouthful. Before I go any further, I'm just so passionate about this. I love this. I'm gonna go on tangents and sidebars. I'm gonna get lost and try to keep [crosstalk 00:53:57.054].
Tom: That's okay. That's how these podcasts work. Don't worry about it, Josh.
Josh: [00:54:00.920] I know. Sorry. I'm, like, gleaming over here because I just think it's cool and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share, you know, to an audience like yours that you've grown so amazingly that, you know, I get to share my way of thinking, which to me is really special. But, yeah.
Tom: Well, when I heard about your techniques, I said, I gotta get this guy on the podcast. So, here you are.
Josh: [00:54:30.466] Yeah. Yeah. That's good. So, that was kind of just like the basics of how my thinking process is. So, before we go into technique, like I said, I want people to kind of think on those things. Like, you know, what's my purpose? I'm always trying to be purpose-driven know, like, so I get to the water, why am I trying to do what I'm trying to do? What's my goal with my nymph? How can I give that nymph different looks to the fish? How can I make it go faster, slower, deeper, higher, or slack, or tight, you know? So, just having that process [00:55:00.553] is really important to me and, you know, building my technique off that. So, how I build, how I fish is through experience. You know, you have to have some sort of...
So, a client will call me, or a student will call me and say, "Hey, I wanna go on a guide trip. I don't care how many fish we catch. I just wanna learn tight lining." And I appreciate that. And I think that's great because it shouldn't always be just about fish numbers, and that's a different topic. [00:55:30.597] You know, I've gone through that. I wanna catch all of them. I wanna catch the big one. I wanna catch this and the hard one, and then whatever. But, you know, the truth of the matter is to be an expert of catching, you gotta catch at some point to just have that repetition and understand. So, sometimes there is a very specific angle. So, if we're tight lining specifically, there's just the small variance where the fish just kind of want it this way. [00:56:00.660] And you have to have that repetition of bite encounters to be like, "Oh, if my drift isn't that angle, I'm not getting bites."
But when I tell that person, they're like, "I don't need to catch fish." I'm like, "Well, we at least need to have a lot of bites just to, like, polish and so you kind of get that connection between, sometimes if my angle's not right, I'm not getting bites." And that's where the hard know, it's difficult. It comes with time and it comes with, you know, just catching fish. [00:56:30.619] Technique comes from trust in others. You know, like, I was fishing and Pat Weiss says, "Do this," I'm doing it because I believe in him. You know, so, you know, process is important. And just having one that you believe in, when you get to the streams, you have somewhere to start. And if it's not working, you have somewhere to keep going through the process to catch fish.
But, okay. So, dry dropper, it's something that I just have a lot of passion about. It's a fun technique [00:57:00.945] to fish. There's a lot of ways to fish it, a lot of techniques through that one method, which kind of connects the dots with all the things I was saying previously. But, you know, dry dropper on the simplistic form, it is, it's simple. It works. We catch fish with it. It's a nice technique to use for, you know, young kids or just your angler going to have fun. And, you know, it's a technical way of fishing. We could break down water [00:57:30.566] really well with that technique. It's proven. We've fished as a competitive team for Team USA as adults or the youngsters or the masters, even the new lady scene. It's something that we rely on at times.
I just talked with Mike Komara. He's fishing his national championship. He literally just called me right before this, and yes, like, 35 miles-an-hour winds. It's raining today. And, you know, he was relying on that dry dropper to catch a fish, and he did, and he did well. [00:58:00.715] So, it's tried and true in these methods. But the most important thing for me is, it informs what I was trying to say earlier. It teaches me, it tells me sometimes what I'm doing wrong or right, or helps me to know when I need to make the weight adjustment to have better connection or to lengthen my tippet to give it more slack or whatever it is. And that's really, you know, why it's important to me.
And it's fun. This year we did dry dropper, [00:58:30.170] even on the euro or on the traditional setup, we did a lot for steelhead. I know that water was low and clear and, you know, sometimes it gets a little weird up in the Erie trips, those fish get kind of stacked together and if you roll indicators and split shot, it's almost, I don't wanna say unethical, but it gets a little bit scheme-y and you can foul hook fish a lot. But if you use a brass speed to fly and have it really high in the column and encourage those fish to move up in the column and eat it and come down, [00:59:00.858] you're not foul hooking them.
But it's also doing something else that I like to teach is called, you know, really amplifying the strike and making the strike more obvious. If you need a fish to move, to eat it, and then go back to position, you know, the bite's a lot more obvious with tight lining or dry dropper or even indicator fishing, but, you know, so it's kind of cool, and it's fun too to better be catching them on the sulphurs. I had a client, a student go with me on the Little Juniata River, [00:59:30.299] so I don't mean to spot burn him out, you know, it's just a great river we have here. And he's fishing this river for the last few years, dry fly fishing know, trying to catch fish on the sulphers every year. Loves that hatch. And he does well. He is a good [inaudible 00:59:47.032].
And I taught him dry dropper on the euro setup this year, earlier in the year, and throughout the year, he's fishing. [inaudible 00:59:54.277] said, "Josh, I've caught more fish on the dry fly this year than ever fishing dry flies," you know. [01:00:00.568] And I told him maybe it's because you're fishing with that dry dropper for longer throughout the days. Obviously, one, you're nymphing, but it's just like the way it lands with that long light leader, your drift is so good. He's catching more fish off. So, you know, it's kind of neat when fish aren't rising, we still catch them with those methods.
A lot of misconceptions with the dry dropper is it's an indicator. It is, but that's a small percentage of it. Another, you know, kind of misconception is [01:00:30.760] it's hopper dropper. Okay. So, like, you know, when I dry drop, I'm fishing hopper and a nymph underneath, and sometimes that is the case, but that's a very small...especially on the East Coast. If I'm fishing a hopper, I'm fishing a hopper. I'm not worried about the nymph underneath. Like, I don't want the fish to eat the hopper. But for me, hopper dropper is, you know, maybe not as much as some of the other ways we fish it, but it's a way to do it.
Another misconception is, like, you know, weight depths, time of year, people think, [01:01:00.798] "Oh, so, you know, your dry-dropper fishing, there must be a lot of, you know, hatch midges." You're fishing, like, 6 inches or 12 inches under your dry fly. Once again, a very small percentage of how we fish it, but a way to do it. You know, I might fish dry dropper 6 feet deep, I might fish with a 4 millimeter under a dry fly. You know, and that should raise immediately some people like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. How can you do that under, you know, a dry fly?" But the neat thing is there's some dries and ways we tie them, and with some, maybe not newer, but materials used that can [01:01:30.721] allow that to happen very well. So that's kind of neat.
But, you know, dry droppers, part of that 365 days, it doesn't need to be fish rising. It doesn't need to be active fish, although that helps. It doesn't need to be summer or winter. It could be all of that. You know, it works all the time. I remember I was with Michael Bradley in North Carolina, and he was like, you know, fishing dry dropper, and I was in a tight line. We fished in this beautiful little pocket stream. And I was like, man, I'm excited to, you know, [01:02:00.406] fish against him, fishing that technique prior to when I really fished dry dropper a lot. And he had like 10 on my 1. He had 20 on my 4. You know, he was just cruising me. But the thing about the dry dropper, how he was doing it with this long leader, with all these pockets, he could stand there and kind of, like, you know, pick off all these fish without even moving. Where as tight lining, I had to, you know, work in a position [crosstalk 01:02:22.736] move over, fish the next seam. It was just an effective way to catch fish really quickly. Super cool. Super cool. [01:02:30.806]
But, you know, where to dry drop, that's another misconception. You know, we fish in super fast water. We fish in slow water. You know, pretty much everything. A lot of times when I'm fishing fast water, a dry dropper is nice because I can pick apart those really small seams that are created by either underwater water rocks or upstream rocks or whatever. There's real small seams to slow my nymphs down. So, if we stopped right here, and I just gave one tip that was the most important thing to me, [01:03:00.531] it's kind of the basis of the book I just wrote. It's kind of just, like, how I fish. If I wanna catch trout nymphing, I try to slow down my fly as much as possible without hitting the bottom, dry dropper or euro nymphing. That's really my goal of...that's, like, my starting point of every drift. Okay. It's my bread and butter. I try to get the fly to slow down without hitting the bottom. And I could do that with rod angles. I could do that with how the fly enters the water, my tippet size, my leader size, the fly design. [01:03:30.600] There's a lot of ways to do that, but that's kind of what I'm always trying to do.
And when you're in fast water, very fast, a lot of little seams, there's gonna be little slow pieces in it. I sit there and I try to identify everything that's slow in a fast piece. That's where I'm very strategically fishing first. When I'm doing that, it allows that fly just to maybe settle and slow down just a little more and encourage that fish, gives a little more time for that fish to maybe go over and eat the fly. Because, like, a lot of times in fast water, [01:04:00.071] we think maybe we're getting a drift, but probably not. There's places where there's just ebbs and flows on the bottom and buckets that it's impossible to get into, at least I can't do it. So, what I rely on is trying to slow my fly down. In doing so, I look for slow pieces in fast water. And the dry dropper gives me a really good way to dissect that with good accuracy.
Tom: So, Josh, the way you fish dry droppers is not the same as most people. And what I'd like you to do is describe starting at the fly line [01:04:30.487] all the way to the dry and the nymph, how you construct your rig.
Josh: Yeah. Thanks, Tom. So, from the fly line, the rig I use the most would be the euro nymphing thin fly line with a long level leader, maybe a 20 to 25-foot leader of 4X, 3X just level to tippet. [01:05:00.511] And if I'm fishing technical pocket water, I fish some sighter in there. So, maybe a 2 to 3-foot piece of sighter, the same as the leader, 4X, maybe 5X, but usually 4X. And then from that, about a 2-foot piece of tippet.
Tom: The tippet is what, 5X or 6X?
Josh: Yeah, usually 5X to my dry. And then I'll put a tag off that [01:05:30.659] knot, add 6X underneath. So, if I do snag underneath the water, a lot of times I'll get my dry back and my dry tied on the tag, so, you know, there's several ways to add the dry eye to eye bend. There's some new kind of cool ways with adjustable tags and stuff. We're talking about tying the dry fly off of the tag [inaudible 01:05:55.400] knot or surgeon's knot, okay? Everybody [crosstalk 01:05:57.407]...
Tom: So, you're tying 5X to 6X, [01:06:00.991] you're leaving one end of it long. Do you tie your dry on the 5X piece or the 6X piece?
Josh: The 5X and then the 6X continues down, so if it breaks there's a 5X on there.
Tom: Okay. So, you got the dry on one of the tags of the blood knot. Is it a blood knot or do you use surgeons?
Josh: Either one's fine. I personally use the blood knot [inaudible 01:06:25.185].
Tom: I'm sorry, say that again.
Josh: Either is fine. [01:06:30.522] The blood or the surgeons. I usually use the blood knot, but yeah, either one.
Tom: Okay. And then, so one end of the blood knot is cut off, and then you have a long tippet of 6X where you put your nymph.
Josh: Yeah.
Tom: Okay. Got it. Okay.
Josh: Perfect. So, when I do two nymphs without a dry fly, my tag's usually 3, 4 inches long. When I use a dry fly, maybe slightly longer, 5, 6 inches is getting a little long. But yet, you know, any longer than that, [01:07:00.663] when you're walking or casting, it tends to wrap and knot and just get tangled. So, you don't want it too, too long. But a little length is important for one of the techniques that we fish, you've gotta have a little bit of length in there. So, down to the nymph varies, you know, it could be 6 feet, 5 feet, 4 feet, 2 feet. So, that's just depending on how you're fishing.
Tom: How deep you want to fish.
Josh: Yep. Exactly. Yeah. So, the first method we kind of do...So there's four methods we'll talk about. There's more than that. Or maybe [01:07:30.356] we could talk about a couple more. But the four methods we really talk about, the first one's, like, just a traditional way of fishing it. You do it on a regular fly line, but you do it on euro, you just, you know, cast it out, call it the soak, the nymph hits, the dry hits, and it drifts. You know, the best way we fish this, you know, the best way I like to fish this method is straight upstream. When you're casting, you're drying nymphs are landing in the seam. Seam, speed pretty much. And you can manage just by, you know, collecting that line as the dry comes back to you, you know? I love fishing that way.
[01:08:00.715] And on the euro setup with good mechanics of a cast, you can cast it really far. I just did an overhead drone video of, you know, fishing. I had, like, a 50-foot leader on, a lightweight nymph, a lightweight fly, and using what we call the Frisbee cast, with a really low continual cast with a really low angle, straight line cast [inaudible 01:08:22.118] with good mechanics. I cast that, like, 40 feet. Now I have a drone with, like, 5-foot increments of this big white tape. And it's really cool to see, [01:08:30.409] like, that you could get that far. Throw any wind in there, you're hosed, you know? So, when it works, it's really cool.
Tom: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Frisbee cast.
Josh: That's what I call it.
Tom: Now, you gotta describe this because that I'm not familiar with that.
Josh: It's something that some of the coaches, myself, Joe, just some of us know, in my book, there's a little part that's an angler...a good angler is a representation of where they fish. And, you know, just some of the cast work [01:09:00.519] great in situations, and some of them you gotta adapt, right? And then the same happens when you start using these new leaders and stuff that are just not traditional. You have to adapt how you fish too. So, how we cast is...I remember I was watching, I think it was Clouser a long time ago, cast with a weighted fly at one of his shows. And he was doing it with, like, a very horizontal rod. And the rod was kind of, like, more outta, like, his maybe mid-torso. And the fly and fly line was staying under the rod. [01:09:30.707] And it was really cool to watch.
That's similar in a way if you can kind of picture how that cast was. But what we do is we cast downstream, we want all the lines out of the rod. So you're not really shooting line, although you can, or leader, you know? So, you have all your leaders...Yeah. No fly line. This is leader. Okay. So, you have all the leader on the water, and your fly is sunk and your dry fly is on the surface. What you do is you have...I like to use my finger pointing on the rod [01:10:00.672] versus my thumb. The reason is because it helps to keep everything without rotating. If you rotate the rod in the air, the leader follows making the leader go on up in the sky know, fastest distance between two points is a straight line. That's what we're not trying to do. We're trying to continue that straight line.
So, if you pretend you have a Frisbee, so put that backhand throw. You put your Frisbee in your hand, you have your finger on the rim of the Frisbee, and you do that [01:10:30.638] slow movement with, like, your forearm, and then there's, like, that flick at the end with your wrist. That's exactly how we do it. So, that slow movement with your forearm helps you bring the [inaudible 01:10:40.578] to the surface so everything's ready to shoot. And then that flick is really what, you know, helps to shoot that leader. So, that slow movement is almost that same as, like, you know, the casting, the movement. The tip starts bending first to the rod that's more the midsection and almost to the blank. Not crazy, but, you know, the better the rod design [01:11:00.966] for this lightweight stuff, the more that actually does work. It's really cool. And if you need...If you're really [crosstalk 01:11:06.556]...
Tom: So, it's still a water load, right?
Josh: Hundred percent. Hundred percent.
Tom: It's still a water load. Okay.
Josh: Absolutely. And if you're struggling with it, or if it's not going because maybe your nymph is too light or whatever, your rod is too light, then you try it in a lower rod angle, which is almost opposite of what you think, you start your rod even lower. So, more leader's touching the water, that bends the rod more. So, you know, it's a really neat way [01:11:30.901] to fish. And I love it. It's almost like bass fishing in a way. You can flip on your trees really far with that, and you can, you know, keep everything very low right at your rod tip or under, you know, but...Sorry, [crosstalk 01:11:45.233].
Tom: So, I assume that this...
Josh: I love it. It's so cool to me.
Tom: Okay. I assume it's gonna be much easier with a euro-type rod, a longer rod with a very soft tip, like 10-foot-3, or 11, whatever it is, 11-something, [01:12:00.618] 3-weight.
Josh: Guaranteed easier. Guaranteed. Yes, absolutely. I try to tell my anglers, can you cross the country, you know, on a go-kart? Of course, you can. Can you cross the country on a go-kart when there's snow? Probably not. You know, there's just tools that work better for the situation. It is what it is. You know? But that light leader on a rod that bends nice, that longer rod, it's fun. It's cool. You know, castings minimal when you're [inaudible 01:12:28.154], but in this situation, you can cast pretty far [01:12:30.488] and it makes it...I enjoy that part of it.
So, we call that the soak, just simple. You're just watching that dry fly, you know, roll under. But before I go any farther, with dry dropper, the dry is really important. So, there's three categories of dry in my mind. There's foam, there's hatch-specific, and then there's floatability, fly is tied to freaking float. [01:13:00.780] It's the function of that, you're nymphing with it. You know, and a fish on the top's a bonus, although it does happen, sometimes often, it's a bonus. You know, the foam is the hoppers and the beetles and the ants are great, but if I'm fishing those, I'm fishing those get an eat on them. You know, and then the hatch-specific ones is your hatch-specific, your caddis, your olives, whatever. You know, and sometimes those aren't great for fishing heavy nymphs underneath. And then if you're tying them to do that, they're not really [inaudible 01:13:27.343]. So, the third category is that [01:13:30.806] fly is specifically tied to float. And there's some of these ones we tie with different, less synthetic materials. Everything's synthetic and they float really well. I could do a size 14 or 16 and float a 4-millimeter on it.
Tom: Really. So, Josh, I assume that these dry fly patterns are in your book, right? And we should talk about your new book, which the title is...
Josh: "Euro Nymphing Tips, Tactics, and Techniques." It just came out [01:14:00.575] January/February.
Tom: Yeah. And it's published by Stackpole, right?
Josh: Sure is.
Tom: Yep. And these dry fly patterns, let's take a little sidebar and talk about the patterns and how you tie them because I'm sure people are gonna be dying to know how you tie them. So, tell me about these dry flies.
Josh: Yeah, the dry flies are nice. I try to keep them buoyant enough [01:14:30.314], you know, to float the nymph for fishing underneath. So, that's kind of the key to a lot of this stuff. It's the balance between how, you know, light you're fishing or the water. If you're fishing really slow water, you don't want a giant dry fly on top of it, a midge underneath. It's just, you know, wanna fly that's balanced with what you're fishing. We tie them in different sizes and different amount of materials [inaudible 01:14:56.436], I mean, that's understandable, obviously. [01:15:00.557] But how we tie them is with, it's kinda like poly film material. And it's very bushy, very...if you put on the table, it's like a big round ball, we call it 3D. When you tie it in, you put it, like, a parachute, and then we do, like, a pump or two in front of a parachute, and it makes it almost look like a dang egg. People are like, "But that's gotta be an egg." And it really does look like an egg and it looks funny.
And at first when I, you know, [01:15:30.656] start fishing them and doing stuff...Actually, I saw a fly very similar from Team USA angler Ken Crane a long time ago. And I looked at it, I was like, "There's no way." And I was in the national championship in, I think it was Bend, Oregon a bunch of years ago. And I needed that, I need a function of something that floated all day. So, he gave me this, like, I said, it looked like an egg. It was tied with all this kind of polyfill or trigger point or just this synthetic stuff [01:16:00.621] that floats really well, packed there tight. We were in a lake. I threw it way out there from the bank, and that thing was floating, because we're not allowed to use indicators or anything in competition, but sometimes you need that thing just to hang out there.
And, you know, the tight lining, even if you're a really good tight line angler in a stream, dry dropper just presents that fly at a little bit of a distance at a static angle is really hard to do or impossible to do. I can't do it, you know. [01:16:30.884] So, dry dropper just does different than, you know, tight lining. But in that lake, I remember throwing that thing out there, looked great, the fly was bright orange and white and all these things. I cast it out...session started, I cast it out, started stripping out line, and the fly was just sitting there. I looked up and it was gone. They ate the dry, like, right on the bank. Oh, my gosh. So, you know, sometimes it amazes me what fish eat. It amazes me. You know, just with a good plop or a good presentation or a good drift, [01:17:00.770] fish eat a lot of things.
Tom: So, can we go back and talk about how you tie this fly again? Because I'm not quite getting it.
Josh: For sure.
Tom: So it's trigger point fiber or something similar, poly yarn, I assume, or...?
Josh: Yeah. There's a lot of good materials out there that are very similar. Some are cut differently, some are hollow. So, you know, there's different ones for different applications, but I'll tie, caddisfly, I'll use synthetic, [01:17:30.967] maybe hare's ear, tan, black, [inaudible 01:17:34.024] or brown or olive or whatever. So, you can kind of match at least caddis in the area. And I'll go about three-quarter...almost, just a little more than halfway, almost three-quarters forward, and then I'll preen together some of this material, maybe like a pencil's amount. I tie it two, three wraps on top, cinch it down. So, it would be some sticking out the rear, some sticking out the eye. [01:18:00.614] Then I post it, pull [inaudible 01:18:02.018] straight up, wrap around two, three times, and then I progress forward with my thread. And then I'll clump in another one, just like [inaudible 01:18:08.426], and then maybe one more, and maybe clean up [inaudible 01:18:13.843] with a little bit of dubbing so it's presentable, the same color as the body, but something like that. I actually call it the Popsicle fly. It's a [inaudible 01:18:23.317] Orvis fly next year.
Tom: No hackle on it though around the post?
Josh: No. In this one, I just want [01:18:30.450] all synthetics. I just want it totally just to float.
Tom: In a dubbed body?
Josh: Yeah. We do a dub body. I guess fish do eat it at times. Maybe on some fisheries, they won't at all, but sometimes it does get a line, but yeah.
Tom: So, it's got three wings on it, more or less, and three posts?
Josh: No, the first one would be a post and the second one's just the clump like deer hair. Just put it in like a clump like a deer, and push it backwards. [01:19:00.580] And so, the last clump backwards if you're doing, like, maybe a size 14, you want it to float really well, you do 3 clumps. If it's a 16, you do 2 clumps. If it's an 18, maybe just do the post and clean it up a little bit.
Tom: Okay. So, is the clump kind of spun around the hook or is it just tied on top of?
Josh: No, no, no, no.
Tom: Just tied?
Josh: [crosstalk 01:19:20.324] elk hair.
Tom: Okay. All right. Okay. I think I'm getting it. Sorry for being so dense.
Josh: No. No. Some of this stuff, you know, as a teacher too, [01:19:30.347] if I could go back and, like, explain writing my book, from me understanding what I need to do, teaching it, and then saying it in words and writing it down are all learning experiences. I'm learning how to communicate too, Tom. So, you know, it's hard.
Tom: Well, Tom's not too bright, so, you know, if I can understand, anybody can.
Josh: No, for sure. Yeah. But I could send you some photos too. It's a cool fly.
Tom: Is it in your book? [01:20:00.242] I got your book.
Josh: So, the book is only tight-lining stuff. Who knows, maybe this is the next book.
Tom: Oh, yeah. You can send me one. I want to see it.
Josh: I know I gave Sean and the boys some up there.
Tom: Yeah. But they didn't share them with me.
Josh: Oh, geez. Rascals.
Tom: Okay. So, anyway, let's continue. I think I got the fly now, let's continue. Oh, and Josh, why not just use a piece of yarn [01:20:30.196] like a New Zealand or a Dorsey indicator? Why not just use piece of yarn instead of a fly?
Josh: Fish don't eat it.
Tom: Oh, yeah. True.
Josh: Can't catch them on that.
Tom: Okay, fair enough.
Josh: And more importantly, the truth to the techniques we're gonna talk about is the tag, the tag, the tag, the tag, the tag, the tag end that the dry fly is tied onto is how the technique is powerful. Okay?
Tom: Okay. Yeah. Why don't you describe [01:21:00.176] that.
Josh: Remember that, everybody listening. So, remember, when we add our tippet, we add a blood knot or a surgeon's knot, and there's the tag that the drive fly is tied on maybe 4, 5, 6 inches long. That tag hanging there independently with our nymph then, you know, on that mainline going down, that's really important to this technique. And it's really, really, really important. In situations, would a Dorsey indicator work more? Abso-freakin-lutely. But it isn't as dynamic as what I'm explaining. [01:21:30.957] Okay. Really important. Okay. So, the hinge. So, the first technique was the soak. The soak, once again, you cast out and you're just managing the line. So, the hinge is something where if the water's really shallow and you have 4 foot of line on there, how do you fish something that's 10 inches deep with 4 feet between your dry fly and your nymph? Or if the opposite, the pocket's only 10 inches long, but you got 2 feet in between your nymph and your dry. You can't fish that, you need, like, a certain amount of line [01:22:00.604] to unravel before you even make connection, unless you're really good at casting and keeping connection. Right?
So, what we do in this scenario, you remember on our leader, we have a piece of sighter on there. It's about 2 feet from our dry fly, and then from our dry fly, let's pretend you have 3 feet to your nymph, okay? So, you're fishing water that's 18 inches deep. In this scenario, I will cast and maybe hold my dry fly 2 feet off the water, and then just give my nymph [01:22:30.828] 10 inches under the water and then 18 inches deep. I'm fishing what we call fishing the amount of tippet the fly needs to get near the bottom. We're not know, someone will say this is a misconception, you know, you need two-and-a-half times the depth of the water always. Not the case. For sure not the case. Maybe it's a good starting point. It's a good starting point, but absolutely not the case. Sometimes that's just too much disconnect. It's just not technical enough.
[01:23:00.795] So, what we do is we'll hold the dry fly off the water, 1, 2, 3 feet, and fish just enough where the nymph just goes in the water. I was on Spring Creek a couple weeks ago with an angler and just casting out when the dry hit, and I could just see how that tippet just slack on the surface. And that dry was floating downstream for 2 feet and then you saw it slow down when it made connection with the nymph. And in between there, there was two, three, four seconds of no bite detection. You know, I said, watch this. And I said, cast, stop your rod high. [01:23:30.673] You know, we're not casting far, 10, 15, 20 feet. I said cast your rod high, let your nymph enter the water, and just have your rod hot so your dry just naturally stays in the air. And he did, and then the nymph sunk 6, 7 inches and immediately saw the take, which I'm gonna talk about in a second, and, you know, caught a fish. He was just like, "Holy crap." Like, yeah, the fish were on it right away. And if you just cast it out and didn't have that good control right off the bat, not saying it's not possible, but [01:24:00.586] you're gonna see less bites, [inaudible 01:24:01.217] less bites.
Tom: And this is the reason for the long-level light leader, right? So that you can maintain control to that drive without any sag in it. Okay.
Josh: For sure. Sure. Absolutely. If you have a 20-pound, you know, leader, which I fish 20 pounds sometimes, I will. If I was floating a sighter on a really windy day, 20 pounds might be perfect to project that light nymph. But in this scenario, I could just be a little farther, [01:24:30.613] a little bit more connected. But there is downfalls of light leaders too, but it's the way that I enjoy fishing.
Tom: Yeah. They're hard to cast. I watched Sean and the boys struggle. It's not easy to cast that long 4X leader.
Josh: When I'm guiding or instructing and I see someone do the Frisbee cast with a straight, with that perfectly straight and level without rotating the wrist and casting. [01:25:00.663] But, you know, you gotta have those mechanics. The second you rotate that wrist, it's just out the window most of the time with that light leader. So, mechanics are so important with this. You know, I wouldn't feel right giving someone that never tight-lined before, like, "Hey, here's a 5X leader, go have fun." Like, they're gonna be like, "What the heck?" They're gonna rotate it, it's gonna go in the air, the wind's gonna grab, it's gonna go behind them and not even towards where they're casting. So, you know, having good mechanics is...You know, and then people rely on heavy flies to make the cast because it feels better, [01:25:30.464] they feel the cast. But I said something earlier, if you heard one thing from the podcast, I wanna slow my flies so they don't hit the bottom. Use a heavy nymph, it might crush through the water, hit the bottom, and then [inaudible 01:25:44.360] identify the lightest bite.
Before we go forward, one more thing I'm gonna say, it's really important, is kind of just going off of what I just said there, the discernment of bites is really important. Magnifying bites, [01:26:00.458] understanding how can I make the bite a little bit more obvious so I can see it, so I can react longer? You know, those are the things that really kind of help to catch more fish. If someone asked me 10 years ago, how do you catch more fish, Josh? I'd say, you know, my successes in fishing a lot of places around the country, world, whatever and I've seen, like, a lot of scenarios, I know what to do. Okay. So, now that's called process. We have a process. Now if someone asked me, how do you catch more fish, Josh? I'd say this, you just gotta identify more bites. If you can identify more bites, and convert those into fish, you'll catch more.
[01:26:30.554] But that's a broad answer. But if you really think about that problem-solving, if you can magnify bites, you know, and that magnification is used in that dry fly that's smaller, that the fish...that it goes under faster than an airlock indicator. Because it'll show you that bite even quicker and fish will hold onto it a little longer. But that's the problem-solving that gets me so excited. Like, you know, not just, "Oh, man," you know, that's not the answer. It's why, what, how? And then how can you [inaudible 01:27:00.121]? [01:27:00.121] Like I said, I'm gonna give you all these ways to fish differently, but this isn't, in my opinion, [inaudible 01:27:08.451] how can you amplify or have that fish hold the fly longer? Those are the real winners in my eyes. Okay?
Let's back to technique. So, when you're doing the hinge, and you'll have the dry fly off the water, the gonna have a little weight and it's gonna, like, hang down a little bit. [01:27:30.882] And when a fish eats, that dry is gonna bounce in the air because it's kind of...if you actually think about it, it'll look like a hinge. You'll kind of come straight down to the dry and then it'll be angled towards the nymph that's in the water. So it kind of bounces. Really cool. I learned that from a coach of the U.S. youth team named Gordon Vanderpool. Just a really technical good angler. And then the technique that I like the most, we call is the Y. And this is really the reason we fish off the tag. So, the Y is...[01:28:00.882] it's gonna be hard to explain, but what I'll do is fish holding my rod angle high and have the line coming into the water and holding my dry fly, but the dry is just touching the surface of the water, and the knot connection is out of the water, making a little teepee. Okay. So, the knot connection...I try to explain it, like, 10 times. So...
Tom: [01:28:30.647] No, I think I understand. I think I actually understand this.
Josh: Yeah. It's really cool. So, to my knowledge, it's Lauren William's technique that he used or created, I think up in the Adirondacks, he fished a lot of rivers that are turbulent. But the key to it is to have, like, those mid-rock boulders. Difficult thing to fish behind those boulders, you know, where the waters swirling around and, you know, connection [01:29:00.536] is difficult. And this really teaches us what's going on. I actually call this method the professor. It's so advanced and it's that thing that I was trying to lead to earlier in the presentation, like, about how if you have a technique that teaches you what to do, you're just better off. Okay?
So, what we do is we hold the dry and off the water, and the dry kind of acts as a rudder. And what that means is it'll help [01:29:30.657] kind of turn downstream and keep the dry in line. And why that's so important is what we call tracking. It helps the dry and the nymph to go downstream more in a straight line. Okay. So, if you're tight lining without an indicator, without a dry fly and you cast out from your rod tip across the stream, okay, when your tippet lands and your fly sinks, and you are [01:30:00.306] back from where you're casting across too, there's gonna be an angle of how your tippet goes through the water. And when you have an angle cutting current, there's gonna be different seams hitting that and you're gonna create a lot of drag. It's almost like when you're fly-lining on the surface. Okay?
So, what was the main point? I said, what is the one thing if someone listens, it's slowing down your nymph, it could slow down your fly. That's kind of how I start when I get to the water and I don't know what to do. [01:30:30.478] If I could slow my nymphs down, I'll catch more fish. If I'm casting across, do ou think it's easy to slow the nymph down? It's not, it's difficult. But imagine this, okay? I'm casting across to a dry fly that is kind of that anchor and then nymph goes straight down from the dry fly. So, it allows me to fish across stream and have that fly track downstream in a line versus when you cast out with a euro setup, it's gonna do more of, like, a semicircle, kind of, and rotate around you a little bit more. [01:31:00.659] A lot of times those fish really want that fly tracking straight downstream because that's how, you know, natural bugs are gonna move unless there's an emergence or something.
But, you know, that's really the bread and butter of that 365-day thought process, how I catch fish everywhere. I want that nymph to track downstream. I want it to be slow as possible most of the time. And that's really what I'm focused on. If I don't hit the bottom, even better, everything that moves to the bite. So that's really, like, my bread and butter but the dry dropper helps [01:31:30.959] to do it a little bit more out where tight lining, you're gonna get that angle cutting the water. Okay. So, when you're watching the Y and that Y know, I'm actually doing it right now. I have my hand upside and my thumb is the Y, the dry fly, and then pointer finger is pointed down. I'm making, like, this upside on Y right now.
Tom: I'm doing it too.
Josh: I bet there's a couple people right now. It really helps to see. So, right where, like, [01:32:00.282] the flap of your skin is where your thumb and your pointer finger are connected, that's gonna be the knot. So, watch that knot. That knot, it's gonna open or close, and that's gonna indicate what's going on underneath, if that's a bite or if that's a disconnect. So, sometimes you'll see that the whole tippet just kind of drops. You'll see the sighter even drop with the two. And that's why we fish the sighter about 2 feet away. So sighter's always in your peripheral too. Really important. Very important note there. [01:32:30.757] So, sometimes you'll be fishing and the sighter will do something and the Y will not. The dry fly absolutely will not. You know, you catch your fish.
But this is a really cool story. I was on Yellow Creek, a really pretty place here on the East Coast, and we're fishing and had an angler a couple weeks ago. Imagine this, you have two rocks and you have a little shoot in between them, maybe 2, 3 feet wide. And it was only maybe 10 inches deep and it went into, like, a bucket of [01:33:00.887] maybe 2 to 3 feet deep. And we know there's fish in there, there's [inaudible 01:33:03.585] in the stream or whatever, but there's fish there. Okay. So, the angler had...I don't remember exactly, but let's say it was a 2.5-millimeter, 2.4-millimeter tungsten-weighted fly. So, the millimeter is the size of the bead, so it's pretty light, you know, 2.5 millimeters and about 2 foot of tippet and a dry fly.
And he cast it out and he was doing the soak method. Okay. So, everybody's familiar with that. It's when you cast it out [01:33:30.227] and let the fly do what it's gonna do, and you're just managing the line. So, that fly goes down to that shoot two, three, four times and he's like, "It looks good." He doesn't know what's looking for. And if you know the subtle clues, it's really hard to tell. I could see sometimes the fly would be going and then it, like, kind of spin a little, not spin, but, like, undulate back and forth as it was going down because there's a lot of swirls and stuff, you know, as that water moves downstream. But I could tell what was going on.
So, what I did was, I said this, [01:34:00.747] we're gonna learn this new technique to wire right now. So, I made him cast, I just kind of showed him what the Y was, you know, explained it. I made him cast and, you know, took a few casts just to get into position, of course, because mechanics are really important. Stopping the rod early so the leader turns over so you can have that Y open immediately off the water. Super important. And then he got it. And what happened was his dry landed on the water and the tippet that goes down the nymph immediately turned downstream [01:34:30.534] and it pulled the dry downstream each cast. I'm like, "Do you see what was happening under the water? And you never even realized it." He's like, "Holy crap." So, he changed the weight of the fly immediately from 2.4 to 2.8. Took two, three casts but he now could have that Y, and he had a fish eat a couple casts in. Without that Y, you had no clue what was happening. This is the whole thing.
This gets me so excited. A technique that helps us to learn [01:35:00.968] helps us to be better. You know, it's not something that works all the time. It's not something that is always gonna work in that way, but if you can think like that and you have techniques that can help, it can really grow us. And so, I say the same thing with the sighter, with euro nymphing. The sighter is my check engine light. It tells me when things are good. It tells me when things are bad when that maybe it's curling downstream slightly or it's vibrating, it's undulating, you know, and we need to know when that check engine light's on [01:35:30.407] what code it's showing, how to read the code, and what to do next. You know? So, it's same thing with an indicator on the surface, but I just think those alternate methods are just a little bit more technical and there's just a little bit more leeway for expanding on that. Sorry, I'm going down the rabbit hole, but this is really...I love it so much.
Tom: Well, let's get into floating the sighter. So, different technique, but still [01:36:00.532] not typical tight-line nymphing.
Josh: Yeah. So, floating the sighter is a fabulous method where we use all these things. A leader can be adjusted at any moment to compensate for wind or compensate for weight or lack of this or lack of that, you know. So, that being said, I still like to use a fairly light leader for floating the sighter, maybe 3X or 4X, a 4X sighter. And the thinner the sighter, [01:36:30.389] the sooner a lot of times it'll sink. So, we use wax on the leader, wax on the sighter, sometimes wax on the tippet, and having a little bit longer tippet will help encourage that floating sighter to float higher and longer. And it's just a great technique. I really enjoy it when fish are actively eating or not. But when they're in kind of that knee chop, choppy water on the edges, especially floating the sighter is something [01:37:00.624] I just really enjoy doing and fishing it with just a single lightweight nymph or a medium-weight nymph. A lot of times just with one, it's just accurate and you can have control of that nymph really well, but it's so fun with a fish.
Tom: So, let's talk about, same leader, long 4X leader?
Josh: Yeah. Yeah. Like I said, the thinner the leader, the faster it's gonna sink. And I kind of compensate a little bit with longer tippet. Sometimes the longer tippet's not appropriate [01:37:30.414] for the situation, but that will help it to float. So, you can make the adjustment if you need to with a heavier sighter and leader. But it's nice that you can cast and control your sink rate and how it sinks with how your sighter lands with where and how your fly lands. So, if your sighter lands taut downstream to your nymph, your nymph doesn't have much time to sink, so you can fish the fly higher. Whereas if you can control your tuck cast [01:38:00.442] and maybe your sighter lands on top of your nymph, the nymph will sink, and then your sighter will make connection and start your drift downstream. It'll be a little deeper. And then even further going, you can have your nymph and your sighter land upstream giving you even more time to sink. And you can do that with floating with sighter and dry dropper. There's just more ways to control your depth without changing your weight.
And in doing so, someone's gonna hear this and say, "Well, you're creating slack in between, you might not see your bite." Yep. Sometimes that happens. But sometimes you do see your bite. When fish have [01:38:30.532] in that scenario, there's a lot of slack. When fish have slack, and this goes with the dry dropper too, they seem to hold the fly a little longer. And they seem to have a good hook set too, like, a nice lip, you know? So, when I've done things where I'm fishing extremely tight with a maybe heavier nymph, short tippet with a slighter, I'm very tight and I'll see, feel, and even see the fish flash underneath, get them, boom, miss them. [01:39:00.847] And then if I can induce a little slack with maybe slightly heavier tippet, a slightly lighter flash, slightly longer tippet, or even a slightly heavier leader, a little bit of slack, that fish will hold the fly a little bit longer sometimes, you know? So, that's another, you know, kind of problem-solving thing. If you're missing fish, it could be a delay of bite detection or it could be a too tight kind of thing too. You know, we call it, you know, problem-solving conversion. But there's so much to this, it's so fun.
Tom: Okay. So, [01:39:30.485] when you're greasing the sighter or treating the sighter, I know that you sometimes use the Orvis paste wax. Do you ever use, like, the colored wax or the...not paste wax, but the paste dry fly dressing? Do you ever use a colored wax or one of those new essay pens with the paint on them that use for a sighter?
Josh: Yeah, absolutely. And that's the cool thing about the changes [01:40:00.670] in the exchange of information and new products. The sighter wax is super because you can use that light leader if it's a little hard to see, a little bit of pink wax and orange wax, whatever helps. And even stepping back with going with the Y, I used that wax on that knot connection between your dry fly and your nymph, the Y spot there. And you could put it on there and you could see it glow from a mile away. Super. It's just super.
Tom: Now, when you're floating the sighter, Josh, what's your rod angle? Is it a lower angle [01:40:30.728] or are you still holding the rod high?
Josh: That's usually a lower angle that will kind of encourage a little bit of slack, less tension on the leader, but you have to change, all water's different, you know? And that's kind of stepping back and I don't wanna switch gears here, but we're missing one of...the coolest part about the Y. That rod angle changes the angle of the Y and it can encourage that fly to stay higher in the column with a low rod angle. So, if you imagine [01:41:00.843] that Y will open up really wide or with a high rod that Y will close a lot more and have that nymph move directly down, directly under your dry fly. You can change your depth and your speed, you know, that's part of the process we have. We can create different drifts with the exact same flies and change maybe with connection right away, with letting the fly sink, with creating a lower rod angle, and leading it a little faster, more slowing down. [01:41:30.555] You can have more vertical angles, even with a dry dropper, where you can just be very versatile.
Tom: God, there's so much to learn, so much new stuff.
Josh: But Tom, you know, if you just rely on your fly, you might never think of all these things. These might be crazy anyways, but it works, and I'll attest to that, it works, and it's cool, and it's fun. I was with this group of pastors...I tell this story pretty often. I was this group of pastors on a stream in PA and [01:42:00.068] it was, like, a clinic they were having, super good people. And I walked out on the stream, I was like, "I'm gonna catch a fish here in [inaudible 01:42:07.305]." And I started with my A technique, made three, four drifts and I didn't have a bite. And, you know, it was only 30 seconds, but to me, it felt like an eternity. I just had to catch [inaudible 01:42:18.796], you know, because I wasn't trying to be arrogant. I was just trying to be confident and instill that in them so they can go have a day if they want to, you know. And, you know, I switched to my...So that was my [01:42:30.822] A drift, which was maybe almost the vertical angle, which to me is the way I've caught the most fish over the years. And then I went to my B drift, maybe a slightly leading angle. And then I went to my C drift, a very shallow angle. And I presented that fly in 3 different ways over 15 casts, which is now a minute-and-a-half. I went to my D angle, which was something we call the Colorado drift, more of an upstream angle, or downstream angle when you're fishing upstream.
And, you know, I yelled back to the know, I could hear them, you know, starting to whisper between them [01:43:00.449] and this and that, losing their audience because it had been two minutes. And in my mind, I'm thinking, all right, I drifted this [inaudible 01:43:06.388] past 15 different casts and either the fish have seen it and they're not gonna eat it or, you know, the more you cast, the chance it's know, I call it half-life. Every drift is half a percentage less. But I changed that drift and I did the Colorado drift. I got a fish first catch and those people were like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa." But I said, you know, curb your enthusiasm for a second. It's not that I caught one, it's that [01:43:30.430] I changed my technique five times with the same exact fly with not changing anything, and just caught a fish. And I caught another one and two, three cast later. But the point to that story was, you know, I could have relied on the fly and switched and then had done that same technique and relied on the fly to get the fish to move and eat the fly. Whereas if the fish aren't moving that day, you might not catch anything. That's the 365-day approach right there. I wanna be able to control in every way.
Tom: And I know people listening to the podcast will wanna say, [01:44:00.515] "What nymphs is he using, what nymphs is he using?" But, you know, you made the point that it's not that important, it's so much more important to...
Josh: It is.
Tom: Sometimes.
Josh: But I can't say it's not important because it is, it is. Having the fly matters, absolutely is important. I think it's lesser important with nymphs. And I think it's even lesser important if you don't spook fish. So that's kind of where I'm going off of. I can try to spook less and I can...but that's my approach. You know, [01:44:30.259] some people are gonna cough at that and be like, that's kid's not gonna catch fish here, there, whatever, it doesn't matter. It works for me and that's what I put all my marbles in is building a technique that's so diverse and dynamic that I can, you know, figure it out without having to change the fly too much. I do change the fly, don't get me wrong, I change the weight a lot and I do change the pattern sometimes a bit, but I more try to rely on the technique.
Tom: Yep. Yep. All right, Josh. Well, that is a lot [01:45:00.930] to think about and a lot to...
Josh: I'm sorry.
Tom: No, don't be sorry because that's giving us all excitement about getting out there, I'm sure, and trying these, you know, really different techniques of fishing dry dropper and fishing nymphs, and it's pretty cool. It's pretty cool stuff. And I'm sure that in the years to come you're gonna come up with other cool things [01:45:30.439] that are different.
Josh: You know, I just need to halt you there, Tom. Some of this is, you know, like I said, Lauren Rims [SP], Team USA, fishing with world anglers, and some of it is exactly that. We just are fishing and you're like, "Oh, this works." You know what I mean? Just because we're trying to think things know, but I can't take all the credit. Absolutely not. There's so many better anglers than me. There's so many people out there that are amazing, you know?
Tom: No, but the idea that [01:46:00.622] there's new stuff coming out, I guess that's the idea, that there's new stuff that may not be new to everyone. People might have been doing this for years, but it hasn't been really, really disseminated amongst people. And you know, every year we come up with something new and it's so cool.
Josh: Sure is. Sure is.
Tom: All right, Josh. Well, I wanna thank you for taking the time today and going over this. [01:46:30.744] And I know it's a little geeky for some people, but I know also that there's a lot of other people listening to the podcasts that will really get into this and there'll be a lots more questions. So, I may be coming back to you when I get questions on the podcast.
Josh: Not a problem at all. I just wanna say thank you to you and to the Orvis team, and thank you for the listeners for all the support, for everything. And we appreciate it. I appreciate personally so much.
Tom: And we're excited about seeing your next book come out. [01:47:00.993] I know you just finished one, now you gotta do another one on dry droppers.
Josh: I sure enjoyed the process, but it's hard, man. It's hard writing.
Tom: Yeah, tell me about it. All right, Josh, thank you so much and I hope to talk to you soon.
Josh: Thanks Tom, appreciate it.
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