The Dry Fly Guy is written, photographed, designed, edited, and published by David Shumway, and that just happens to be me.
I’m not really sure when I began fishing, but it was certainly no later than the early to mid 1960s, because I can remember as a very small boy fishing for (and eating) trout from a mountain stream near Bishop, California with my father. He worked as a salesman for General Mills at the time, and took me on occasion with him on his route, which included Bishop.
I migrated from drowning worms to spinning gear as I got a little older, and in my teen years it didn’t take long for my preferred terminal tackle to become a clear plastic bubble with a length of mono tied to a Royal Coachman fly. I used this to great effect for many years, and trips into the High Sierras at the time were common and cherished. But life moved on and so did I.
Through my early to mid 20s I rarely fished at all, and it wasn’t until I moved to Utah in the late 1980s that I truly began fishing frequently again. Equipped with my trusty dry fly and bubble, I saw no need to migrate to a fly rod, and I avidly hiked and fished the streams across the State.
Ignorance is bliss I guess, because one day I happened upon a very large rainbow trout in some very clear and slow moving water. I visited this large fellow on several occasions over the course of a month, and every time I cast to him with my bubble and fly he just disappeared. I determined that the plastic bubble was the problem, but without the bubble, I simply couldn’t cast far enough. I tried stalking ever closer, but always spooked him by the time I was within casting range of a Royal Coachman tied to six pound mono.
Frustrated, but completely obsessed, one day I arrived to find that a true fly fisherman was eyeing my fish! To be honest I was a little put out by this, and figured he’d meet with the same result as I did, ruining of course my chance to try again that day. So I sat and watched as he surveyed the situation for awhile.
Finally deciding upon his approach, I watched intently as the fisherman stalked slowly toward the stream, and then G.I. Joe’d it through the tall grass and into position. From his knees he made a few false casts over the land to get some line out, and then made a single cast out over the water.
I couldn’t see much else from my position, but a few moments later, the line went taught and the rod was bent as the fisherman excitedly rose to his feet. It took a little work, but eventually the largest trout I had ever seen in person was brought to hand with a small Griffiths Gnat hooked in the corner of its mouth.
At that moment I was hooked every bit as much as that fish was, and truth be told, a Griffiths Gnat is still one of my favorite flies today.
I purchased my very first fly rod and reel very shortly after that experience, (an Orvis Superfine graphite rod and a CFO reel) and the rest, as they say, is history. That history includes swinging streamers, nymphing, fishing soft hackles and wet flies, I’ve even spent some time with spey rods. But I always return to my beloved dry flies, and will likely forever remain a dry fly guy. As such, I know that I have a certain bias that you should probably keep in mind when reading my posts here, and to elaborate just a little more on that…
For years now I have remained wholly devoted to dry fly fishing. It’s just the kind of fishing that I love to do, even when it frustrates me to no end. As you read above, it’s why I became a fly fisherman in the first place, and if you can cast it with a spinning rod, in my opinion, you probably should be. I simply have no desire to “chuck and duck” with a fly rod. Being that an Orvis rod and reel was my very first fly rod and reel, Orvis will always hold a special significance for me, and I have nothing but praise for the many Orvis products I have owned in the past, even if I have chosen to use different equipment now. Today I have a certain affinity for D.S. Shumway bamboo rods, and for graphite rods by Winston or Scott. When it comes to reels, I love the Hardy Perfect and Bouglé reels as well as Hatch reels, and I tend to use Scientific Anglers for plastic fly lines, and Phoenix for silk fly lines.