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ORVIS – Advanced Nymphing Tactics – Dry-Dropper Accuracy

When fishing with a Dry-Dropper set up, it’s important to remember the nymph during your presentations. Neglecting it can result in your dropper getting snagged in stream side brush or other obstacles. It can be difficult to adjust for the added weight and tippet when presenting a dry-dropper rig. In this segment, Dave Jensen shows you how to make precise and gentle casts, allowing you to effectively fish in tight areas and reach the hidden fish.

If you found this video useful, we recommend checking out our other informative and valuable fly fishing content. The Orvis Company presents “ORVIS – Advanced Nymphing Tactics – Dry-Dropper Accuracy,” a video that offers valuable insights on how to effectively fish a Dry-Dropper set up. In this segment, Dave Jensen demonstrates the importance of considering the nymph when making presentations to avoid entangling your dropper in stream side brush or snags. He shares techniques to achieve accurate and delicate casts, allowing you to fish in tight cover and reach the hidden fish. If you found this video helpful, be sure to explore our other instructional fly fishing content for more tips and techniques.

While trout hunting on a tributary with challenging spotting conditions, including cloud shadows and glare, an exceptional Brown trout grabs our attention. After previously spooking the fish by walking too close, we cautiously position ourselves to maintain concealment. With careful precision, we plan to make a cast just to the cusp of the drop-off, considering factors such as wind and water visibility. In this engaging experience, we learn that successful fly fishing requires more than just making accurate casts; it involves strategizing and using the right approach.

ORVIS - Advanced Nymphing Tactics - Dry-Dropper Accuracy

Preparing for Dry-Dropper Fishing

When it comes to dry-dropper fishing, proper preparation is key to increasing your chances of success. The first step in preparing for this technique is choosing the right rig. The rig you select will depend on various factors, such as the size of the flies you plan to use and the depth of the water you’ll be fishing in. It’s important to choose a rig that allows for easy casting and presentation of both the dry fly and the nymph.

Understanding the challenges of dry-dropper fishing is also essential. One challenge you may encounter is getting an accurate cast. Unlike traditional dry fly fishing, where you only need to focus on one fly, dry-dropper fishing requires you to accurately present both the dry fly and the nymph to the fish. This can be trickier than it sounds, as you’ll need to adjust your cast to accommodate for the extra weight of the nymph.

Accuracy is crucial when it comes to dry-dropper fishing. A perfectly presented cast can make all the difference between a successful catch and a missed opportunity. To achieve accuracy, it’s important to assess the fishing spot before casting. Look for signs of fish activity, such as rising fish or feeding behavior. This will help you determine where to position yourself and where to make your cast.

Factors that should be considered when presenting an accurate cast include wind direction and speed, the presence of obstacles such as trees or rocks, and the distance you need to cast. These variables can affect the trajectory of your cast, so it’s important to adjust your technique accordingly.

Accounting for Extra Weight and Tippet

When fishing with a Dry-Dropper rig, it’s necessary to account for the extra weight and tippet material that comes with using a nymph. Balancing the rig is crucial to ensure that the flies are presented naturally and attractively. If the nymph is too heavy compared to the dry fly, it may sink too quickly and appear unnatural to the fish. On the other hand, if the nymph is too light, it may not reach the desired depth and go unnoticed by the fish.

Snags are another challenge that can arise when fishing with a dry-dropper rig. The additional weight of the nymph can increase the likelihood of getting snagged on obstructions such as rocks or submerged branches. To avoid this, it’s important to keep a close eye on the rig and be prepared to adjust your casting technique or move to a different location if necessary.

Managing the nymph during the fishing process is also crucial. Nymphs tend to drift in the current, and it’s important to ensure that they are moving naturally and mimicking the behavior of real nymphs. Avoid any sudden or jerky movements that may spook the fish. Instead, focus on maintaining a controlled drift and adjusting the depth of the nymph as needed.

Targeting Fish in Cover

Fish often seek shelter and cover in various underwater structures such as logs, boulders, or submerged vegetation. These hiding spots provide protection from predators and a prime feeding ground for fish. To target fish in cover effectively, it’s important to identify these hiding spots and present your flies close to the cover.

Pay close attention to the water’s surface and look for structures that may provide cover for fish. Look for calm or slower-moving water near these structures, as fish tend to seek refuge in areas with less current. By casting your flies close to the cover, you increase the chances of enticing a fish to strike.

Using stealth techniques is also essential when targeting fish in cover. Because the fish are in close proximity to their hiding spots, they are more likely to be spooked by any sudden movements or noise. Move slowly and quietly, keeping a low profile to avoid alerting the fish. Additionally, it’s important to make accurate casts to minimize the chances of your flies landing on or near the cover, potentially causing the fish to lose interest.

Dealing with Difficult Spotting Conditions

Spotting fish in certain conditions can be challenging, but there are strategies you can employ to overcome these difficulties. One common challenge is dealing with cloud shadows and glare. These conditions can make it difficult to spot fish as the changing light patterns can create distortions in the water’s surface. To overcome this, try positioning yourself in a location where you have a clear line of sight to the water and minimize the impact of the glare. Polarized sunglasses can also help reduce glare and enhance visibility.

Enhancing visibility can be achieved by using contrasting and visible flies. Brightly colored or highly visible flies can help you track their movement on the water’s surface, making it easier to detect subtle takes or strikes. Choosing flies with fluorescent or UV materials can be particularly effective in low-light conditions or when fishing in murky water.

It’s important to adapt to challenging spotting conditions by adjusting your casting technique and approach. Shortening your casting distance can ensure that your flies land within your visible range, making it easier to track their movement. Additionally, paying attention to the water’s surface and any disturbances can help you locate fish that may be invisible to the naked eye.

Matching Fly Selection to Fishing Conditions

Selecting the right flies is crucial to increasing your chances of success in dry-dropper fishing. The choice of flies should be based on the fishing conditions and the behavior of the fish you are targeting. Factors such as water temperature, insect activity, and the presence of other fish species can all influence which fly patterns are most effective.

Water temperature plays a significant role in determining which insects are active and available as food sources for the fish. For example, during warmer months, terrestrial insects such as grasshoppers or beetles may be more prevalent, while colder months may see a higher abundance of aquatic insects such as mayflies or caddisflies. By observing the water and identifying insect activity, you can choose flies that closely resemble the natural food sources available to the fish.

Adapting to cold fronts is another important consideration when selecting flies. Cold fronts can cause fish to become more lethargic and less willing to feed. In these situations, it may be necessary to downsize your flies and present a more subtle and realistic offering. Choosing small and natural-looking flies can increase your chances of getting a strike even in challenging fishing conditions.

The Importance of Timing

Timing plays a crucial role in dry-dropper fishing. It’s essential to wait for the perfect moment before making your cast. Rushing your cast or making it at the wrong time can spook fish or result in a poor presentation. Take the time to observe the water and the behavior of the fish before deciding when to cast.

Avoid making short or long casts that may reduce your chances of presenting your flies in the desired location. Instead, aim for a cast that covers the targeted area accurately. It’s important to be patient and wait for the fish to settle back into their feeding position before making your cast. This allows you to maximize your chances of a successful presentation and increase your chances of enticing a strike.

Making the cast count is crucial in dry-dropper fishing. Because you are presenting two flies simultaneously, it’s important to ensure that both flies are presented in an enticing manner. Pay close attention to the speed and depth of the drift, as well as the placement of the flies in relation to the fish’s feeding lane. Making minor adjustments to your cast as needed can make a significant difference in your success rate.

Factors Affecting Fly Presentation

There are several factors that can affect the presentation of your flies when dry-dropper fishing. One of the main factors to consider is the wind and water conditions. Strong winds can make accurate casting difficult, as they can alter the trajectory and placement of your flies. To compensate for this, it’s important to adjust your casting angle and power to ensure that your flies land in the desired location.

Concealing the presentation is another important factor to consider. Fish can be easily spooked if they detect unnatural movements or disturbances on the water’s surface. Avoid dragging your flies across the water or creating unnecessary commotion that may alert the fish. Instead, focus on making a gentle and smooth presentation that mimics the natural behavior of the insects you are imitating.

Drawing attention to the fly is also crucial in dry-dropper fishing. By making your fly stand out and appear appetizing to the fish, you increase your chances of getting a strike. This can be achieved by adding movement to your presentation, such as imparting lifelike twitches or subtle movements to your dry fly. Experiment with different techniques to see what works best for the specific fishing conditions you are facing.

Considering Fish Behavior and Preferences

Understanding fish behavior and preferences can greatly improve your success rate in dry-dropper fishing. Different species of fish have varying tendencies and feeding patterns that can influence their response to your flies. By tailoring your approach to the specific fish species you are targeting, you can increase your chances of getting a strike.

It’s important to observe the behavior of the fish you are targeting. Are they actively feeding near the surface, or are they staying closer to the bottom? Are they taking flies on or near the surface, or are they primarily feeding underwater? By identifying these tendencies, you can adjust your rig and presentation to match the fish’s preferences.

Predicting feeding patterns is also crucial for success. Fish tend to be more active during certain times of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon. By fishing during these periods when fish are more likely to be feeding, you increase your chances of getting a strike. Additionally, paying attention to environmental factors such as water temperature and clarity can help you predict when fish are most likely to be actively feeding.

Tailoring your approach to the specific fish species you are targeting is essential. Different species have different preferences and behaviors, so it’s important to do your research and understand the specific needs of the fish you are after. By using flies that closely resemble the natural food sources of the fish, you can increase your chances of attracting their attention and enticing a strike.


Dry-dropper fishing is a versatile and effective technique for targeting a wide range of fish species. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can enhance your skills and increase your chances of success on the water. Remember to choose the right rig, present your casts accurately, account for the additional weight and tippet, target fish in cover, adapt to difficult spotting conditions, match your fly selection to the fishing conditions, time your casts effectively, consider factors affecting fly presentation, and tailor your approach to fish behavior and preferences. With practice and attention to detail, you can become a proficient dry-dropper angler and enjoy the thrill of hooking into fish using this exciting method. Happy fishing!

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