Whether you want to admit it or not, the truth is that most trout feeding on dry flies are actually mistaking your bait for emergers. If you find that hard to believe then sit back near a shoreline and carefully watch trout right in the middle of a mayfly or midge hatch.
Watch how many large flies simply disappear in the rise and how many of the rises seem to focus in on something out of nowhere.
In fact most popular dry flies these days can actually mimic the shadow of an emerger far better than adult insects can anyways. Most insects will naturally stand up tall on their tippy toes and get clear out of the water in order to try and stay safe. Even normal dry flies will sink lower than a true bug on most occasions and their heavy tails look far more like something hanging from a nymph than insect tails.
There are countless memories that anglers have of misty days where nymphs and creatures such as March Browns are covering the water. You know how it feels when nothing will work and it feels like it will be impossible to get any trout to be interested enough to rise. They just are not tempted enough by the insects that roam about on that particular day.
It is in these moments that you should consider switching to emerger imitations, just to see what happens at the least. The heavy tail of these patterns can better mimic the meaty, and delicious, tails of emerging creatures that trail big nymphs.
Trout are raised to understand that they have to be efficient predators or they will not survive. They need to consume as many calories as possible while conserving as much energy as they can. That is why they are so intrigued by emergers, as they mimic a trapped and dying insect which are much easier to catch than a nymph rising or a fluttering mayfly.
The good news is that it is quite easy to get your hands on a good emerger. Most tackle shops carry an array of emerger options, and in fact most any fly that imitates action without a hackle can make for a quality emerger. Try cutting the hackle right off of a normal dry fly with scissors and you will probably notice an increase in effectiveness almost immediately. However, flies that are specifically manufactured as emergers will bring about the best results as they can natural present themselves almost flawlessly.
While emergers can increase your catch rate there are a few tips that you need to know to make the best use of them as possible. Many people consider fishing emergers with an obvious twitch, but that isn’t necessarily the best method. Nine times out of ten you are better off fishing these in a dead drift, much the same way as you fish a dry fly. Too much movement and you lose the natural effect of the emerger itself.
However, a little bit of drag in your line can mimic the movement of the fly toward the surface and many trout will hit it right at the start of the drag. If it drags too long, then the trout will know something is off and you risk scaring him off for good.
It is crucial to understand exactly where your emerger is located at all times because you need to be able to see a strike occur. Some emergers will come with wings or even yarn that sticks out from the surface. You can also look into something along the likes of
Strike Putty if you are using an emerger that flush-floats.
While some anglers will immediately switch over to a dry fly if they see trout eating from the surface, it is best to be a little patient before switching over. Emergers should continue to work all throughout the hatch, but be willing to switch over if you have a spell with no success.
Some articles and experts will argue the effectiveness of cripples, but it is hard to believe that trout really have the ability to tell the difference between a struggling mayfly and one that is simply emerging. There are a number of hatches that are most effective when fished with emergers. For example, Pale Evening Duns, March Browns, Isonychia Mayflies, and Blue-Winged Olives hatches are almost always more effective when fished with an emerger pattern rather than a standard fly. On top of that, 90% of the time you will notice that you will hook into more fish during midge hatches and caddis hatches when using an emerger as opposed to a high floating dry fly.
While there may not be anything more exciting than watching a monster trout rise to strike a floating fly, emergers can drastically increase your odds of having an excellent day of fishing on the water.
Give them a try this season and you will likely never head to the stream without them ever again.