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ORVIS – Dry Fly Tactics – Fishing Terrestrials

“ORVIS – Dry Fly Tactics – Fishing Terrestrials” is an informative video by The Orvis Company that explores the art of fly fishing with terrestrial flies such as hoppers, beetles, ants, and crickets. These types of flies can provide an exhilarating experience, as the takes are often explosive and it allows anglers to use larger dry flies. While it may initially seem counterintuitive, the technique involves casting your fly on the dry side of the bank and gently dropping it into the water to mimic the natural presentation to bank feeding trout. In this video, Dave and Amelia Jensen offer valuable tips on how to make the best presentation with your terrestrial flies. For further guidance and tips to improve your fly fishing skills, The Orvis Company provides additional online resources for enthusiasts.

The grassy banks of your favorite Trout stream present a unique opportunity to employ one of the sneakiest tactics in fly fishing – the terrestrial drop. This technique entails deliberately casting your flies onto the grassy stream bank, deviating from the conventional approach taught in basic fly-fishing courses. By doing so, you can achieve great success when fishing with ants, grasshoppers, beetles, and other terrestrials, particularly during spring, summer, and autumn when these insects are blown or fall onto the water. Although it may take some getting used to and requires faith in its effectiveness, the terrestrial drop capitalizes on the presence of grasses along the stream edge to ensure a more realistic presentation. By overshooting the stream and allowing your fly to land on the grasses, it will smoothly slide down the grass blades without snagging on woody shrubs. Slowly tightening your line or stripping it back gradually increases the tension, causing the fly to pop or slide off the grass and onto the water, enticing nearby trout with a subtle yet enticing arrival.

Terrestrial Flies in Fly Fishing

Introduction to fishing with Terrestrial flies

Fly fishing with Terrestrial flies is a popular and effective technique used by anglers all over the world. Terrestrial flies imitate insects that are found on land, such as grasshoppers, beetles, ants, or crickets. These flies are a great choice when fishing in areas where terrestrial insects are abundant, such as grassy banks or meadows. In this article, we will delve into the world of Terrestrial flies, explore their advantages, and provide you with tips for making the best presentation.

Description of Terrestrial flies

Terrestrial flies are typically larger in size compared to other types of flies used in fly fishing. This is because they imitate insects that are naturally bigger than aquatic insects, making them a more visible and enticing target for fish. These flies are commonly tied with foam bodies to mimic the buoyancy and shape of real insects. They often feature rubber legs or wings made from materials that create lifelike movements in the water. Some patterns even incorporate realistic colors and patterns to further enhance their effectiveness.

Advantages of using Terrestrial flies

One of the main advantages of using Terrestrial flies is their ability to imitate insects that are found on land. In areas where terrestrial insects are abundant, fish often key in on these food sources and eagerly take Terrestrial fly imitations. These flies can be particularly effective during the summer months when terrestrial insects are more active and abundant. Additionally, Terrestrial flies are often easier to see and manage on the water due to their larger size and buoyant foam bodies.

Tips for making the best presentation

To make the best presentation with Terrestrial flies, it is important to understand the tactics and techniques that work best. When casting, it is crucial to accurately place the fly close to the target area, such as grassy banks or overhanging vegetation. Terrestrial insects are more likely to be found in these areas, so precision casting is essential. Furthermore, when presenting the fly, it is advisable to make short and accurate casts to prevent spooking fish. Finally, when retrieving the fly, experimenting with different speeds and patterns can help entice strikes from fish.

Fishing Terrestrial Flies on Grassy Banks

Understanding the tactic of fishing on grassy banks

Fishing on grassy banks is a popular tactic when using Terrestrial flies. These areas often provide ample food sources for fish, including terrestrial insects that fall into the water. When fishing on grassy banks, it is important to carefully observe the water for signs of fish feeding or surface activity. Casting near the grassy edges and allowing the fly to drift naturally can yield great results.

Why fish anticipate a food source on grassy banks

Fish anticipate a food source on grassy banks because they provide a readily available and easily accessible food supply. Terrestrial insects, such as grasshoppers or beetles, often find themselves near or on grassy banks and can easily end up in the water. As a result, fish become accustomed to feeding on these insects and actively search for them in such areas. By imitating these terrestrial insects with flies, anglers can effectively target fish in this zone.

Water conditions during the Terrestrial season

During the Terrestrial season, it is important to take into account the water conditions for successful fly fishing. Warm temperatures and sunny days often result in increased terrestrial insect activity, making it an ideal time to use Terrestrial flies. However, it is also essential to consider the water clarity and flow. If the water is murky or flowing too fast, fish may have difficulty locating the flies, decreasing the chances of success. Therefore, targeting areas with clear water and moderate flow is often key during the Terrestrial season.

Challenges of landing a big hopper near a shallow holding trout

Landing a big hopper near a shallow holding trout can present its own set of challenges. Firstly, when casting, it is crucial to approach the target area quietly and avoid making any sudden movements that could spook the fish. Secondly, since shallow water allows fish to easily spot any unnatural movements, it is important to make the presentation as realistic as possible. This can be achieved by allowing the fly to land softly and naturally on the water’s surface. Lastly, it is important to carefully navigate the hook set and fight with a big hopper, as these flies tend to have bulkier bodies that can hinder hook penetration and increase the chances of fish escaping.

ORVIS - Dry Fly Tactics - Fishing Terrestrials

How to Perform the Terrestrial Drop

Using grasses to your advantage

When performing the Terrestrial Drop, anglers can leverage the surrounding grasses to their advantage. By accurately casting the fly near grassy banks, anglers can exploit the natural movement and camouflage provided by the grass blades. The grasses can help conceal the fly and make its arrival on the water appear more natural, potentially enticing nearby fish to strike.

Step-by-step guide to performing the Terrestrial Drop

Performing the Terrestrial Drop requires attention to detail and precise execution. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you master this technique:

  1. Choose an appropriate Terrestrial fly pattern, keeping in mind the prevalent insects in the area.
  2. Approach the target area stealthily to avoid alerting any nearby fish.
  3. Make an accurate cast towards the grassy bank, aiming to land the fly as close to the water edge as possible.
  4. Allow the fly to gently land on the water’s surface, mimicking the natural arrival of a terrestrial insect.
  5. Watch for any signs of fish feeding activity, and if no immediate strike occurs, begin retrieving the fly slowly and smoothly to imitate insect movement.
  6. Repeat the process, making multiple casts to cover different areas of the grassy bank.

Techniques for allowing the fly to slide down the grass blades

To allow the fly to slide down the grass blades, anglers can employ several techniques. One effective technique is to make a bow-and-arrow cast, which involves using the backcast to load the fly line and aiming the forward cast towards the grassy area. This technique allows the fly to naturally slide down the grass blades, creating a lifelike presentation.

Another technique is to cast the fly slightly upstream or across the current from the grassy area. By doing so, the fly will drift towards the grass blades, giving the appearance of a terrestrial insect inadvertently falling into the water. Careful mending of the line can help control the drift and allow the fly to slide along the grass blades more convincingly.

Effectiveness of the Subtle Arrival technique

The Subtle Arrival technique can be highly effective when fishing with Terrestrial flies. This technique involves making a softer and more delicate presentation of the fly, mimicking the gentle descent of a terrestrial insect onto the water’s surface. By mastering the Subtle Arrival technique, anglers can increase their chances of enticing fish to strike, as the fly’s arrival appears more natural and less suspicious to fish.

Demonstration and Tips from Orvis

Real-life demonstration of the Terrestrial Drop

To help you visualize and understand the Terrestrial Drop technique better, let’s take a look at a real-life demonstration. In this demonstration, an experienced angler from Orvis showcases the proper execution of the Terrestrial Drop. Pay close attention to his casting technique, accuracy, and the way he allows the fly to naturally land on the water’s surface.

Tips and tricks from Orvis experts

Orvis experts have spent decades honing their fly fishing skills and have amassed a wealth of knowledge on fishing with Terrestrial flies. Here are a few tips and tricks they recommend for successful Terrestrial fly fishing:

  1. Choose the right size and pattern of Terrestrial fly based on the prevalent insects and fish preferences in your area.
  2. Make accurate and precise casts to target specific areas, such as grassy banks or overhanging vegetation.
  3. Vary your retrieve speed and pattern to imitate the natural movements of terrestrial insects.
  4. Observe water conditions, including clarity and flow, to identify the most productive fishing spots.
  5. Stay stealthy and avoid disturbing the water or making sudden movements that could alert nearby fish.
  6. Practice the Subtle Arrival technique to enhance the realism of your fly’s presentation.

Setting up for success in overcast conditions

Fishing with Terrestrial flies in overcast conditions requires a few adjustments to increase your chances of success. In low light conditions, fish may be less likely to spot flies on the water’s surface. To overcome this challenge, it is advisable to use larger and more visible Terrestrial fly patterns. Additionally, consider targeting areas with more structure or vegetation that can serve as reference points for fish. Casting closer to these areas can help fish locate and strike the fly with greater confidence.

Effective retrieves for Terrestrial flies

When retrieving Terrestrial flies, experimenting with different retrieves can be key to enticing strikes from fish. Some effective retrieve techniques include:

  1. Twitching: Gently twitch the fly by moving the rod tip in short, quick motions. This imitates the movements of a struggling terrestrial insect and can trigger predatory instincts in fish.
  2. Pulsing: Use short strips or pulses to create a jerking motion in the fly. This erratic movement can mimic an injured or disoriented insect, attracting attention from nearby fish.
  3. Drifting: Allow the fly to drift naturally with the current, imitating the movement of a terrestrial insect that has fallen into the water. This technique can be particularly effective in slower-moving water or when targeting wary fish.


Terrestrial flies offer fly anglers a highly effective way to target fish feeding on land-based insects. Their larger size, realistic imitations, and ability to mimic the natural movements of terrestrial insects make them irresistible to fish. By understanding the tactics of fishing on grassy banks, mastering the Terrestrial Drop technique, and incorporating tips and tricks from experts, anglers can significantly increase their chances of success when using Terrestrial flies. So, grab your gear, tie on a Terrestrial fly, and explore the exciting world of fly fishing with terrestrial imitations.

For further tips and tricks on Terrestrial fly fishing, head to reputable online resources dedicated to fly fishing and explore the wealth of information available to enhance your skills and knowledge in this exciting pursuit.

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