The Dead Drift in freshwater fishing is a very useful technique. It is also a very useful technique in the salt. When trout fishing a dead drift or drag free float is necessary for most dry fly situations. If the fly moves or drags n the surface the fish most often reject it and that movement or drag can be infinitesimal. Some people insist that in some forms of nymph fishing that if the nymph moves through drag the fish will reject it as readily as they will a dry fly. Sometime that is true and other times they will accept it readily.
To think that something is always true in presentation is actually a belief system not a hard fact. If there is an absolute when it comes to fishing it is to keep your hooks sharp and tie good knots. Everything else is fluid.
In salt water fishing the use of the term Drag free float is not as singular in meaning as it is in Dry Fly fishing for trout. IT is used to describe allowing a fly to move with the current but not necessarily to not have any drag or movement. Because of all the recent (fifteen years more or less) salt water books and articles that deal with fly fishing in the salt from a pure cast and strip methodology the radical idea of allowing the fly to swim in the current naturally has no connection or counterpart to recent salt water methodology. This is unfortunate as it causes confusion because of the fresh water trout fishing understanding of the dead drift presentation. Cast and strip is effective and it is a good away to fish â€“ sometimes. It is easy to understand and to communicate to beginners and it is the norm in almost all modern salt water fly fishing circles. It is an approach that has definite limitations however and is not always effective because of the way fish often feed. For cast and strip to be highly effective the fish have to move to the fly. When they are focused on waiting for food to come to them often they will not move. This cuts down the effectiveness of cast and strip to a minimum. It still works when the fly passes in front tf them but if it doesnâ€™t they will not swim after it even if they see it. This is normal not a rare occurrence. It happens often.
Casting and letting a fly swing is the method that works best when it is happening.Â
This is what is being referred to when the dead drift is mentioned in salt water fly fishing. There are several methods of doing this and all of them depend on line control and depth control and mending. The fly does move but it is not stripped in. It is allowed to swim across the current naturally and the cast is fished out without retrieving.Â
There are many ways to do this and it is fun to learn as many as one can.Â
It is just another way of fishing in the salt and in fact all of these ways put together is a very effective set of ways to catch fish that are not susceptible to cast and strip methods at the time. It is fun to learn new ways of fishing.