Dead Drift Presentation
The Dead Drift presentation is used in riffles and runs of streams. It is usually done with a floating line and a weighted nymph. Cast upstream a short distance and allow the rod to follow the nymph as it travels downstream. Keep the rod tip parallel to the surface. A strike indicator is sometimes used. Watch the indicator or the line, when a pause or movement occurs that is unnatural, lift the rod tip. Strikes can be subtle and you might not realize that a fish is on until you raise the rod tip. Then, set the hook. The fly needs to bounce along the bottom and you should be able to feel this when the fly is drifting directly in front of you. If you don't feel the bottom bounce, put some more weight on. The fly will drift upwards at the end of the drift, many strikes will occur at this point. This presentation is good for mayflies, emerging caddis, and stoneflies. The Tuck Cast is a good choice with this type of presentation.
The Leisenring Lift was developed by Jim Leisenring in the early 1940's. It utilizes the Dead
Drift Presentation but incorporates lifting the rod tip as the nymph passes by in order to keep the amount
of line within the water to a minimum. This will decrease the amount of drag. As the nymph approaches the
presumed location of the trout, the rod tip is paused causing the nymph to lift, due to drag, as an emerging
insect. Further lifting of the rod tip will speed up the lift rate of the fly. The technique works best within
consistent flows of 2-3 feet in depth where the flyfisherman has direct control of the fly with a straight
High Stick Nymphing
This method is used within pocket water. Drifts are short and the fly has to get to the bottom quickly. No indicator is used since the faster surface water will tend to pull your fly off the bottom due to the current pressure on the indicator. Many prefer to use a 7-10 foot leader of 4X Fluorocarbon since it sinks faster than a tapered leader to get the nymph down quickly. Watch the line movement for any strike or use a tight line and feel for the take. Use a leader length that is about the same as the rod length. The weighted nymph must sink quickly and be able to touch bottom. If you need additional weight to the fly, try added split shot about 3-4 inches above the fly. Wade within a rod length or two of the pocket you wish to fish. Flip the fly upstream of the pocket and extend the rod tip high over the position where the leader enters the water at a 25-30 degree angle. Keep slack to a minimum and follow the leader downstream to the end of the drift. Keep some tension on the line by lifting the rod tip after the flies have reached the bottom. At the end of the drift, lift the fly and flip it into the next pocket. If you are using soft hackles, let the fly swing up with the current to imitate an emerger before lifting the flies.
Across and Down Presentation
The across and down presentation is upstream from the fish. It is generally within a 20 to 40 feet range. Cast directly in front of your position and allow the line to drift in a sweep across the stream. The nymph will sink during the first part of the sweep, then rise at the end. Strip the line slowly upstream at the end of the sweep to provoke at strike. The presentation can be used for swimming mayflies, emergers, and stoneflies. During the retrieve, try dropping your rod tip down. This action may stimulate activity as the fly drops down and moves backwards. A reach mend or curve cast will help keep the fly downstream of the fly line.
Up and Across Presentation
The Up and Across Presentation is often associated to wet flies. This allows for a dead drift looking for a sudden line stop as the fly rides the current. There are some actions that can be utilized to enhance the presentaion. As the fly begins to pass by, tighten the line and begin a sudden jiggle to animate the swing and swim. Once the fly is slowed below you, try a hand twist retrieve followed by raising the rod to allow the fly to skitter on the surface. These actions will greatly enhance the presentation.
Count and Retrieve
Count and Retrieve Presentation is the most common technique on lakes. The rate of descent will be based on the type of sinking line that you use. Apply an overhead cast and count the seconds of descent that you need to get to a certain depth. It is important that you have a knowledge of the depth of the bottom and what kind of bottom structure is there. In shallow lakes of less than 7 feet, there is most likely submerged weedbeds, and you will want to count only to the depth that your nymph will not get hung up in the weeds. Fish are often found close to the bottom but there are times when the fish will be higher up in the water column. You will need to vary your counts until you find the depth that the fish are feeding within.
Types of Retrievals
Lift and Settle Presentation
The Lift and Settle Presentation is useful for mayflies, particularly Hexagenia and Callibaetis nymphs. It is a shallow bottom technique
in which you let the nymph settle to the bottom and slowly retrieve for a couple of feet. Then, pause and let the nymph settle again to
the bottom. Repeat until the nymph is no longer able to reach the bottom. Then, bring up the nymph and recast.
Chuck and Sit Presentation
Midging with an Indicator
Midging with an indicator can be quite successfull on many of the alkaline lakes of the Sierras. It is a Chuck and Sit presentation that is sometimes helped with a little twitching. Midge Hatches can occur throughout the year and at any time. The primary area that most fish feed on midges is where they hatch near the bottom. The midges will make a slow upward journey and spend some time at the surface morphing from an emerging pupa into an adult. Use a 2 midge rig with the midges spaced about 12- 18 inches apart on a floating line with a 9 foot fluorocarbon leader using fluorocarbon tippet material as light as you can. A split-shot between the midges will help keep the leader straight and bring the rig to the bottom sooner. The dropper fly should be about 6 inches from the lake bottom. Attach a hemostat to the dropper fly and let it sink to the bottom. Locate the position of the leader at the surface and attach the indicator about 6 inches below this point. This will assure that the dropper fly will be 6 inches from the bottom. Start with a pupa dropper and an emergent pupa as a top fly. If the hits are on the top fly, switch the dropper to another emergent pupa and raise the rig to about 18" off the bottom. If the hits are on the bottom fly, switch the emergent to a pupa pattern. Color selection of the midges will also play a factor.
When the midge pupa reach the surface they often bring the trout to the surface to feed on them. This can often occur during low light conditions. Use a floating line and dress the leader with floatant within a few inches of the midge. Cast to the rising forms that you sight and let it sit there. Try to mend your line to retain as little slack as possible. Strikes will be subtle. If you do not have any grabs try a slow retrieval with some twitching, then pause and let it sit.
Sometimes a strong wind will affect your Chuck and Sit presentation, particularly from a float tube. It will take you for a ride. This can actually become a good thing using sinking lines. Try this with Damselfly Nymphs, Flashback Callibaetis, Flashback Pheasant Tails, and Wooly Buggers. If the wind is too strong and you are moving too fast, then use of a sea anchor will help slow you down. If you have no wind, try a slow kick with your float tube.