What If A Fish Does Not Take Your Fly (7 of 14)
So what do you do if the fish doesn't take the fly on the first cast? When you have fish that are showing some interest in your surface flies but they're not taking them, they're coming to the fly, they're splashing at it, they're rolling on it, but not inhaling it, there are a couple things you can do. One is that you can put on a longer, finer tippit to try to avoid drag. Often it's just drag that's the problem. The other thing you can do, go to a one size smaller fly. Or one of the best things is go to an emerger fly, something that floats just in or just below the surface.
This trick of switching from a high floating fly to a lower floating emerger works wonders for many kinds of aquatic insects, caddis flies, mayflies, and midges in particular. Emergers are harder to spot on the water, and if you have trouble seeing your emerger, try putting a tiny strike indicator on your leader about five feet above the fly. Or try combining an emerger pattern with a higher visibility dry on a dry dropper arrangement. If you've made dozens of casts over fish and it doesn't take, first ensure that the fish is still rising. You may have spooked it and it's time to find another fish.
It's often a question of strategy when you're dry fly fishing the fish like this. I'm waiting for these fish in here hopefully to come back up. I see some fish rising up above these guys, but if I wade up to the ones up above, I'm for sure going to spook these guys. So do I stand here and wait for these guys to rise, or do I go up to the next one? Only you can answer that question. Don't be afraid to experiment with dry fly presentations. Every rising fish is a little different, and you may have to try several different techniques on a difficult riser. But that's what makes it all so much fun.