Presentation matters, and one of the challenges while fishing dry flies to rising trout is keeping the fly on surface.
Too many times to count I have been casting to picky fish who refuse my surface fly. The leader is the right size and length, I have confidence in my fly choice and the drifts looks good. Fish continue to rise to naturals and refuse my fly. So I grab my fly and treat it with floatant and on the next cast hook up.
It amazes me how often I hook a fish on the cast after I treat my fly. For that reason I make sure I always have a few styles of floatant with me. Each floatant has its time and place in dry fly fishing. There are many options out there, these are the ones that I make sure always have a place in my pack:
I have just recently started using liquid floatants to pre treat my flies, and I’m hooked. The liquid allows the floatant to soak into the all the part of the fly. The liquid quickly evaporates leaving your fly packed with water repelling goodness. This is best used as a pre treatment. I will tie on a new fly and give it a dip on the side of the stream.
In the past few years I have gone away from gel floatants mostly because you can not use them on CDC flies, and anyone who know me knows that I am a BIG fan of CDC. Enter Loon’s Lochsa gel floatant. This is the only gel that I have every used that can treat CDC flies, and I love it. This product works especially well for cripple patters. I can work in a small dab to the post that I want to float high and leave it off the back end that I want to sink. This gives my fly the best presentation of a cripple stuck in the film. Again, this is mostly a pre treatment.
Shimazaki Dry Shake
By far my most used floatant. This stuff is magic. Once the fly starts to sink, just bring it to hand, shake off the water and pop it into the dry shake bottle. Give it a shake and the fly comes out covered in trout crack and your off and fishing. As I said earlier, it is surprising how many fishing will come up to a freshly dusted fly. Make sure you have a dry shake caddy to keep your dust easily accessible (fishpond is my favorite).
Another must have for cripple patterns. Similar to Lochsa, I use Frogs Fanny on flies that I want hang in the surface film. The brush applicator allows for pin point accuracy of floatant. While I do not use it as frequently as the Shimasaki Dry Shake, it is extremely useful for certain patterns.
By incorporating a variety of floatants you can significantly improve your presentation while dry fly fishing.
—Ben Kitell, Guide Trip Operations Manager, The Fly Fisher’s Place