Emerger flies are easy to use, and they catch fish. Here’s what you need to know


Photo: Frank Glittenberg/Pixabay


Since emerging insects can either be floating to the surface, drifting or actively struggling, there are several effective ways to present an imitation. The simplest is to cast down and across, and swing the fly across the current, exactly as you would with a wet fly.

A more common (and usually more productive) approach is to cast across or slightly upstream, then follow the drift downstream with your rod tip. You need to mend as needed to extend the drift, while picking up any slack so your line will be tight if a fish hits. At the end of the drift, you can even let the line straighten out downstream, as you would with a wet fly. You can also try adding a little action to your fly with small strips during the drift. There’s no formula for choosing a tactic beyond trial and error, or what seems feasible from your casting position.


Strikes can range from hard and splashy to extremely subtle. Since there’s very little chance of hanging up an emerger fly, set the hook whenever you feel a bump or anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes, you’ll also see a flash as the fish strikes. This isn’t as exciting as a surface strike on a dry fly, but it’s still pretty cool, which sort of sums up fishing with emergers. Dry-fly fishing is fascinating and exciting because you see everything happening. Emergers can’t quite match that, but they will get the job done when dry flies fail.