Sooner of later, it comes down to this: How much do you want to be bothered by fish? For that matter, how much bothering do you wish to inflict on them? There’s all sorts of flies and combinations you can tie on that will, in all likelihood, lead to a greater number of fish in the net – bead heads and double bead heads, multi-fly rigs, split shot and indicators, all of which are designed to help the fisherman get down and dirty in the fish’s world.
Yet there is little more guaranteed to interrupt the flow of thoughts, conversation and PBR on the river than the constant tugging of fish on the end of your line. This is where dry flies come in. You select just one, preferably the gaudier and more outrageous the better, something that, were you to encounter a live specimen resembling the one tied to the end of your line, you’d cross the street to avoid it. Neon colored body, legs like tentacles, sized to the dimensions of a rodent or small child.
You cast it to the furthest reaches of the river, those thin margins where the liquid world laps gently at the solid. Throw such a fly out there, you know its going to take a special fish to mess with it. One that’s hungry, possibly a little ticked off at the intrusion, ambitious, on the larger side of normal and actively feeding, rather than minding its own business on the bottom of the river before being rudely hauled to the surface. With this warmer weather and low flows, fish needing a break from the stresses of fish life will tend to head to the bottom of the river during the day, leaving those still full of beans to hang out on the edges and in the shallows, predators awaiting prey.
It is quite possible this is all merely a convoluted justification for not catching as many fish as the guy with the nymphs on the end of his line. It is a sound argument for those who seek the hollow sanctuary of numbers, but personally I’d trade ten fish caught down deep for the sight and sound of one rising to a small, rubber-legged child lazily drifting a bubble line.