Q: Fished White Clay in Pennsylvania, after April and May. I tied some size 18, 20 wet flies using just yellow or orange floss and light Hungarian partridge or grouse. I noticed that the trout either hammer the wet fly as it swings; or, after it swings, as I pick up the line trout hit it and I didn’t know they were on it? Is this the idea of Leisenring Lift? Just finished reading your article (“Wet Fly 101”) in the Nov/Dec 2013 American Angler. Good stuff!!!
A: Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for reading. The Leisenring Lift is one of the most misunderstood of the wet fly methods. According to Dave Hughes, Leisenring would present to a fish, or to a lie that was in the two-to-four-foot depth range, in a slow-moving current. He’d make his cast 10-20 feet above the lie. He kept tight to the fly, tracking the drift with his rod, making sure that the line and the fly weren’t dragging. At the point of where he thought the take would occur, he’d stop tracking with his rod. This would cause the fly, which had been naturally sinking (Leisenring did not use weighted flies) to come off the bottom and start swimming toward the surface. So the lift comes from the physics of the fly lifting off the bottom due to drag, not from the physics of actually lifting the rod. What I think is happening in your case is a trout is following the fly subsurface — or holding at the point where your fly dangles — and as you begin to lift your rod, it sees a potential meal escaping (much like it does an emerging caddis). The trout decides, “I want that!” and you’ve got a fish on. Good for you. 🙂