Fly retrieve is something that should always be on your mind when you’re fly fishing. A “retrieve” refers to the method in which you move the fly in or on the water. Most of us are familiar with the basic dead-drift and streamer strip, but if you learn these few retrieves, you can really maximize every opportunity at a fish!
Wet Fly Retrieve
This style of retrieve may seem challenging at first, but when you’re fishing wet flies or nymphs, the slow action will entice even the wariest of trout to take a swipe at your fly. You can also use this method to move streamers super slowly through the water while swinging them down through the water, emulating a slow or dying baitfish struggling along the river bottom.
When fish are being picky with a streamer retrieve, this method is one that can shift the odds in your favor. All you have to do is start ticking the fly along the bottom using small strips (usually an inch of line at a time), the rapid jigging motion signals a struggling crustacean or small fish on the bottom while also reducing the speed of your retrieve, thus limiting the chances that your target will spook off.
2-Handed Retrieve (Rolly Polly)
Have you ever been fishing streamers and noticed that the moment the fly stops moving, the fish seem disinterested? When this happens, you should try using the roly-poly (or 2-handed retrieve) to maintain constant movement while swimming the fly. The under-arm retrieve can also be used to move flies faster than you could with a single hand stripping retrieve, which can be used to entice aggressive predatory fish to hit the fly purely out of aggression.
Long and Slow
When targeting bottom feeding or slow-moving fish, keeping constant tension, while moving the fly as little as possible is key to coming tight. This retrieve is especially useful when fishing the saltwater flats, or carp, as too much fly movement can spook your intended targets. Next time you are fishing streamers or in the salt, try this retrieve, you will be surprised what decides to eat the slow-moving fly!
Skating a Fly
This retrieve is crazily applicable in many fishing situations, especially when fishing topwater. “Skating” refers to slowly dragging your fly across the surface of the water. Utilized when fishing gurlgers, mouse flies and even small trout dries, this method can be the key to getting fish to come up looking for an easy meal!
Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read or watch. You can find him exploring new waters every day while chasing any fish that will eat a fly!