The close proximity of the Dee, for the first time in my life, has made investment in a season ticket for a class water feasible - so I finally took the plunge at the beginning of this year and joined Corwen and District Angling Club. This may well prove to be the best investment I have ever made. Especially if the end of last June is anything to go by.
It had promised to be a hot day and it was! By eight o'clock I was on the River Dee fishing below the A5 Road Bridge; by 9 o'clock it was sweltering even in the light down stream breeze.

The Dee is already large at Corwen - but large rivers often disappoint, especially when the water is low and the sun is hot enough to melt your eyeballs. But not this day, this was to be my day, the day everything was right. Though at 10 o'clock I still didn't know that.

I had started off by fishing a heavy Cream & Red Czech Nymph upstream into the tail of the outflow from the pool below the bridge with only one light pull for my efforts. Somewhat disappointed I moved a little further down stream and attached a Winged Coachman by a Single dropper. In the water along side a wide shingle bank I did have a few more tugs to the nymph.
I hooked a reasonable trout on the Coachman and lost it at the net and lost two small Grayling on the take. The trouble was few if any fish were rising - this would not do!

I moved on once again, this time to a stretch of the river I had not fished before. A place much lower downstream where I had seen some locals march straight for the last time I fished at Corwen. Here the river widens out and is shallower, giving a more even pace to the flow. A bed of streamer weed extends outwards from the left hand downstream bank for about ten feet. Then the water drops off from 18" to 36" gradually deepening to about four foot under the overhanging trees on the far bank. At the back of me, high, and I mean high, grasses and flowers crowded the bank right to the waters edge. These grasses forced me to wade out into the river, right up to the limit of my thigh waders, so as to miss them with the back cast while fishing across as well as up stream. It was at this point that I found out just how poorly I had repaired my waders.
At about 11.o'clock, as if some one had pressed the "Feed Now" button, one or two fish began to rise. I had been watching the river for signs of a hatch all morning without success - but decided to change to a Dry Fly anyway. I put a size 16, Dry GRHE, on the end of an eight-foot cast. But didn't grease up the cast! And this proved to be an inspirational decision.

Within minutes I was into my first fish, a Grayling of just over half a pound. But I hadn't taken it on the upstream cast of the Dry fly but down stream of me, when the fly had drowned. I don't know whether it is a peculiarity of the Dee, but I have found in the past that while the Grayling may ignore a dry fly fished in a conventionally upstream manner, they will sometimes be inclined to take the same fly when it is left to fish all the way round, just as if it was a wet fly. You may think that fishing a wet fly would be the answer. Not so, they definitely prefer a drowned dry Fly.

The method I employed has the virtues of both wet and dry flyfishing. The trick is to not grease up the cast at all and only use a quick squirt of floatant occasionally. The idea is to make a longish cast across and upstream and then keep in contact with the fly by stripping line as it moves down towards you. At the point where you would normally lift off to recast, don't, just leave it to go on downstream. If necessary pay out a little bit of line. This of course means that if you get a take when the fly is just below you, the belly in the line makes if difficult to connect - but it can be done. As the fly finally drags around in the current it will be pushed under. However, now is the time when takes seem to occur most, just as it comes into the side. Like conventional wet fly fishing, once the fly is directly downstream don't be in too much of a hurry to lift off. Let it lie for a few seconds before slowly drawing it up, ready to recast.

The sneaky bit comes next. Before you recast, air-dry the fly by rapid false casting high above the water to dispel as much moisture as possible.
The distinct advantage of this unconventional system pays particular dividends when fish are rising both up and downstream of you, for you can cover 180 of river from the same spot. Drowning a dry fly certainly proved its effectiveness for me that June day.

Between the hours of 11 AM and 1 PM. I took 16 fish, of which all but two were over 6 oz with most about 3/4 lb. The best Brownie was a wild 1.5 lbs which had been nose and tailing on the top for some time. The best grayling shot like a bar of silver after my fly as it passed behind it just downstream and across from me. He actually humped out of the water on to my receding fly - a pound and a half of magenta finned beauty.


Chris Goldsmith