Why is dry fly fishing considered “high art?” It’s the easiest type of fly fishing. The trout give their presence away. You know exactly when to set the hook, and you’re only working the water surface. Nymph fishing is a three-dimensional thinking game. Streamer fishing is a hard-charging adrenaline game. But it’s dry flies that have always, and will always, own the hearts of most serious fly fishers, myself admittedly included.
I’ll tell you why. Two reasons, really. Reason one is anticipation. You wait all year, through the winter, through the muddy spring. You spend hours on the water, all in the hope that you happen to be standing in the right place at the right time. And when the hatch happens, the world seemingly changes in minutes, and every fish you thought wasn’t really there comes slinking to the surface to feed. Reason two is visual stimulation. Nothing compares to watching your fly get noticed, then eaten (sometimes in a flash, others in painstakingly slow motion).
The only thing that makes dry fly fishing more special is when you fish by sound. When the “Hex” hatch happens in Michigan (now), it usually occurs right at nightfall, and lasts well past dark. I remember many nights standing and listening to the slurps in the
river, and then making blind casts toward the noises. Pause… slurp… set the hook. It absolutely ruined me. I love any dry fly hatch, from the stoneflies out west to the Hendricksons on the Delaware, but I don’t know if there’s anything more spectacular to
behold than a Hex hatch when it’s “on.”