Shake & Flote:
hook on this stuff and cannot believe anyone can fly fish without it. Shake & Flote can be used to pre-treat a dry fly just like any other floatant, and it works as well as anything else for this purpose. Yet it does what no other potion does—it sucks the moisture right out of a drowned or slimed fly, then re-coats the fly with a layer of hydrophilic dry silicone. Shake & Flote won’t mat the hackles of a fly like pastes, and it is the only floatant you should use on a fly made with CDC. It is also the perfect stuff to float and re-float yarn strike indicators.
A knife with great scissors: You can turn a regular dry fly into an emerger or spinner with a few snips. Your Fly Fisherman’s Snips won’t do a very good job; you really need a sharp pair of scissors. This fisherman’s multi-tool has a great pair of scissors, screwdrivers for fixing fly reels, a fine file for sharpening bigger nymphs and streamers (you still need a hone for smaller dries), and a blade that takes a nice edge. It’s all nicely packaged in a thin stainless steel tool that opens with one hand and fits in a pocket so well I use it as my everyday pocket knife.
Strike Putty: This stuff goes on your leader and off in seconds. You can use just a smear on a leader to track an emerger’s progress, or use a hunk the size of a marble as a strike indicator. I use yarn for serious deep nymphing, but for shallow nymphing, small stream nymphing, and fly fishing emergers you’ll want to have a tub of this stuff.
Rugged Stream Thermometer: The benefits of having a stream thermometer are many—predicting hatches, finding warmer water in early season and cooler water in midsummer. But have you ever tried to find a good one? Once, on a fishing trip far from home, I lost my thermometer and had to visit several non-Orvis fly shops to replace it. The only ones I could find were hard-to-read digital thermometers or dial ones that look like tiny meat thermometers. They were cheap and inaccurate. The Orvis Rugged Stream Thermometer is a precision alcohol-based thermometer like the ones used by professional fish biologists. As far as I know, Orvis is the only fly-fishing outfitter that sells this quality. Don’t leave on a fly fishing trip without one of these.
Tips on Fishing Emergers
You might be tempted to fish emergers with a subtle twitch. It sometimes works during a caddis hatch or during an emergence of large mayflies like Green Drakes, but most times you are better off fishing an emerger like a dry fly—dead drift. Any movement you can impart to your fly is far more overt than the diminutive quivering of the naturals.
However, a slight amount of drag will sometimes trigger a strike, because it makes the fly move toward the surface. Trout will usually take the fly right at the beginning of the drag. Once the fly drags for more than a second or two trout will realize something isn’t right. This can be helpful when a fish is rising in a difficult spot like a slow back-eddy on the far side of the river, where avoiding drag is almost impossible.
Cut the last foot off your knotless leader and add 3 feet of Mirage tippet material of the proper size. Mirage fluorocarbon sinks the fly slightly, is much more transparent than nylon, and has been proven to be very effective when fishing emergers. Make extra sure you do not leave any Mirage tippet on the river, even if you have to climb a tree to retrieve a broken tippet. Mirage breaks down in ultraviolet light far slower than nylon an can present a problem to wildlife if you don’t use it responsibly.
It’s important to know exactly where your emerger is at all times. Some of them have wings of CDC, snowshoe hare, or poly yarn that stick above the surface. For the more flush-floating emergers, a tiny spot of Strike Putty two feet above your fly will help you track its progress.
Even if your fly is three inches below the surface, you’ll see an indication of a strike. It could be a swirl, but more often it will look like any other rise.
If you begin to see trout eating adult flies from the surface, you can switch to a standard dry—but the emerger should continue to work throughout the hatch.
Try fishing an emerger with no dry-fly dressing first. It will float for a number of casts and then it will sink just slightly under the surface, so you can see which works best. If you want your emerger to float, rub it in Shake & Flote, not liquid or paste dressings.