Winning Ways With Wets!

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Paul Procter on How you can win with wets!

When I was a youngster, wet fly fishing was all the rage. Then came the advent of mobile lures, typically incorporating marabou, or zonker strips. Our understanding of dry fly fishing developed too, when patterns like the Bristol hopper, or Leadbetter’s suspender buzzer took the stillwater scene storm. Obviously now, wet flies took a back seat.

    Bibio & Green Hackles Wet Fly - BUY HERE!

Of course, wet fly methods always had their devotees, but recently more and more anglers are enjoying success with wet flies. Personally, I too had my head turned by the likes of Trevor Housby’s dog nobbler, which was devastating back in the day. That said, I always had a soft spot for wets and found I habitually relied on them when the going got tough.

involve a team of three flies positioned approximately 3ft apart on an overall leader length of 12ft that are presented on a floating line and retrieved at various speeds. The wind strength and of course how fast your boat is drifting when practicing loch style afloat will determine how fast the retrieve should be..

Paul's Team Of Three 



The top dropper is referred to as the ‘bob fly’ and is usually a heavily hackled creation like a Bibio, Zulu, or Kate Mclaren for example. The middle dropper should be a slender dressing, like a black pennell or black & peacock spider. I tend to refrain from using ‘winged’ wets here, as the wing can act like a vane on a short dropper and spin that ultimately causes a twisted dropper leg. The winged wets are reserved for point position and if they do twist now, tangles are less likely due to no dropper leg and besides these twist often work out as you lift and hang the flies.

As a starting point, I suggest using a floating line and steady, foot long pulls as your retrieve. One thing to remember is to angle your rod, so the tip is held a couple of feet clear of the surface. This is critical as trout lifting to snatch a fly will turn down instantly, so a little slack in the system prevents an otherwise taught line from inadvertently pulling the fly from the trout’s mouth.

 A sucker for a wet fly! 

It’s not written in stone, but I’ve found the stronger the breeze, the larger the flies you should use and the retrieve will be faster too. Rolling waves create a fair bit of ‘white noise’ so larger flies, worked quickly through wave tops make more disturbance to attract trout. Whilst size 10-14 flies are the norm, don’t be afraid to knot on a size 6 Bibio or similar when a wind whips up waves.

Conversely, calmer conditions require smaller, slender flies and the retrieve will be much slower too. In fact, in a near flat calm, I’ll fish a team of two flies some 4ft apart and the retrieve might be a steady figure-of-eight. A slower retrieve also means we can drop the rod tip to the water, for more direct contact with the business end. As our flies are literally trundling along now, trout needn’t move at speed to intercept them, so takes tend to be subtle affairs.

Oh, and don’t feel compelled to fish three flies either. Granted, three flies might work as a team, so to speak, but the thought of flinging three flies to a beginner is daunting. I’d strongly advise that those new to fly fishing use a single wet fly on a 9ft leader. In near flat calms, I’ll often drop down to a brace of skinny wets as these make far less disturbance than Some believe wet fly fishing is a ‘chuck & chance’ method. Yet, if you study the names of patterns, many relate to natural flies.

We can then match our flies to any naturals present. For example, when terrestrials blow onto water, like black gnats, hawthorn flies, or heather flies then dressings like the B&P spider, black pennell, or blae and black should be tied on. When olives hatch of, then we can look to olive dabblers and bumbles, as well as Greenwell’s Glory. If caddis are on the menu then patterns like the Invicta work well and of course, come Mayfly time there’s countless dressings that imitate our largest upwing fly, like the Partridge Wet Fly. 

Top Tip: Given blustery weather, use a liquid or spray floatant to treat the bob fly (top dropper). The now buoyant fly will ‘trip’ through the wave tops, creating the required commotion to attract trout.

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