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Thread: The 'Invisible' Micro-Drag

  1. #1
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    Default The 'Invisible' Micro-Drag

    In another thread there was a comment about drag and I thought I'd open a toipic about a subtext within the subject of 'Drag'. This is about drag with dry flies so let's stick with that. Now there's 'drag' that is obvious to the sight. You know, you make the cast, the fly lands, the fly or the line gets grabbed by the current and you see the tippet and/or fly as it is pulled along creating the obvious 'drag'. You may describe it differently but you know what I mean.
    Then there's the drag that's been and being called 'Micro-Drag' by some. As it has been explained in theory, this drag is supposedly invisible to the fisherman's eye but is nonetheless seen by the fish. Therefore, that micro-drag has a negative effect of the fly on that particular cast.
    So, I ask you, is this a b.s. theory or what? Really, how are you to determine if micro-drag is there and correct it if you can't see it? I can just hear some fisherman as he/she is talking to a bunch of others about this. Conversation goes: "The water was clear and I could see that I was getting great floats over the rising trout but they ignored my offering(s). Good casts, good patterns and sizes that matched the several insects that I saw. The only thing I screwed up on was I must have had 'micro-drag' because of the slight current. I didn't see any but that must have been the problem."

    My response might be, 'Maybe you were seeing the wrong insects and using the wrong pattern. As described by Swisher/Richards(?) there may have been a 'masking hatch'. Or maybe the fish were hitting emergers or subsurface nymphs that you couldn't see? Did you try to seine the water? Did you evaluate the type of rise? In other words - did you do the things you have some control over, or are you accepting a theory that relies on no possible observation and an excuse or mind game for failure?

    Allan

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    One thing to try if you suspect micro drag is going to a longer and finer tippet. Combined with a reach cast or some other presentation to minimize drag. This has sometimes worked for me when trying every fly in the box doesn't. Other possibilities are that the fish are focussing on an emerger below the film and you just won't get consistent results with a high floating dry fly. the key is to observe the situation, form a hypothesis about what is happening and then make an offering to the fish based on that theory. (Yeah. I was a science major at one time). One easy test if you suspect a bad drift is to cast right next to a leaf or something coming down the river. If with your normal mends the fly is more than a few inches from the leaf or bit of foam you are using for an indicator when you pick up then you should look at your leader.
    Last edited by rainbowchaser; 04-30-2013 at 11:53 PM.
    No one is making more water. Use what we have wisely.

  3. #3
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    Alan,
    I agree with your assessment concerning 'micro drag.' When all else fails its always best to put the blame on something that we can't control. Usually we fail to succeed because we simply were using the wrong imitation but micro drag is a better excuse. I have fished with some of the finest fly fishers over the years and there are times when even the best don't figure it out. That's why we call it fishing and not catching.

  4. #4
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    Since we are on this micro drag discussion, what do you think about using flourocarbon tippets which is less visable versus mono which is more supple. In your opinion which has an atvantage over the other, all things considered?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allan View Post
    Then there's the drag that's been and being called 'Micro-Drag' by some. As it has been explained in theory, this drag is supposedly invisible to the fisherman's eye but is nonetheless seen by the fish. Therefore, that micro-drag has a negative effect of the fly on that particular cast.

    So, I ask you, is this a b.s. theory or what?


    Really, how are you to determine if micro-drag is there and correct it if you can't see it?

    I can just hear some fisherman as he/she is talking to a bunch of others about this. Conversation goes: "The water was clear and I could see that I was getting great floats over the rising trout but they ignored my offering(s). Good casts, good patterns and sizes that matched the several insects that I saw. The only thing I screwed up on was I must have had 'micro-drag' because of the slight current. I didn't see any but that must have been the problem."

    My response might be, 'Maybe you were seeing the wrong insects and using the wrong pattern. As described by Swisher/Richards(?) there may have been a 'masking hatch'. Or maybe the fish were hitting emergers or subsurface nymphs that you couldn't see? Did you try to seine the water? Did you evaluate the type of rise? In other words - did you do the things you have some control over, or are you accepting a theory that relies on no possible observation and an excuse or mind game for failure?


    Allan

    Allan,

    You have asked not one but 3 questions.

    The first is whether micro drag exist or is BS. To that I answer an unequivocal, YES, microdrag exists. For me there cannot be any other answer. The logic goes like this. Drag exits. The further we are from an event, the more difficult it is to see. Eventually, there comes a point where either the drag is too small or we are too far to see it. Therefore, by deductive logic alone, micro drag exists, just like there are other things in this universe that exist that we cannot see. Micro drag, in my view, is like the wind. We cannot see it but we can tell it exists by its effect. That is my answer to your first question.

    Your second question is, "how are you to determine if micro-drag is there and correct it if you can't see it?"

    If deductive reasoning is not sufficient for you then experimentation is a second method. What experiment then tells us that micro drag exist?

    Everyone that that fly fished for any length of time has had the situation that we saw visible drag and either lengthened our tippet, gone down in tippet size, or done both and the fish then takes the fly; and we simultaneously notice that the drag is no longer visible. So that tells us that a longer tippet and a thinner tippet will reduces drag when we see it; and by extension of that theory, should reduce drag when we cannot see it (the micro drag that was proven in the paragraph above).

    This is confirmed when we apply this theory when we suspect that there is drag that we cannot see (micro drag). I have and I suspect you have been in the situation where we suspected that there is micro drag, put on a longer and thinner tippet and the fish takes a fly that it has refused in previously. This happens often enough to me that I am confident that micro drag exists both by pure deductive reasoning and experimental confirmation.

    This answers your second question as to how we can know micro drag exists even when we cannot see it. We cannot see micro drag, but the same solution that applies to drag we can see, cures a problem that we cannot see. The logical conclusion is that if the cure is the same, the problem must be the same. You could protest there could be something else going on that a longer and thinner tippet cured BUT by Occam's Razor (Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily), we need not postulate anything else.

    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/General/occam.html

    Your final question is more difficult. Since there was no solution, one cannot be absolutely sure what the problem was. It could be something else.

    You have suggested other possibilities like a masking hatch, rise form differences, etc, that could be causes. But evidence for those things can be evaluated and discarded by doing the things you suggest. A key truth is that the suggestion of other possibilities does not disprove the truth of the original theory, it only makes proof more complex.


    A knowledgeable fly fisher would have evaluated for other causes of the refusal, AND if that same fly had taken other fish in reasonable proximity in time and location to the refusal; Occam's Razor will conclude that the most likely cause is micro drag. Since the fly has been tested, and other possibilities have been discarded as the likely cause of the refusal, what we are left with is micro drag as the most likely cause.
    Regards,

    Silver

    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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    Quote Originally Posted by oldster View Post
    Since we are on this micro drag discussion, what do you think about using flourocarbon tippets which is less visable versus mono which is more supple. In your opinion which has an atvantage over the other, all things considered?
    Fluorocarbon tippets are less visible ONLY when they are sunken and not when they are floating. When fishing a dry fly, we most often have the tippet float. A floating tippet is noticeable NOT because we actually see the tippet, but because we see the effect of the tippet which is the depression of the meniscus.

    In fact fluorocarbon is a bit denser than nylon mono and so it depresses the meniscus a bit more than nylon. If anything, it would be just slightly more noticeable. In reality there is probably little difference. The key for me is that fluorocarbon tends to be a a little stiffer and this makes it less suitable for dry flies
    Regards,

    Silver

    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

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    It seems to me that going to a longer, finer tippet has other benefits besides reducing drag. How can we know that the elimination of micro-drag was the reason for success?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayatwork View Post
    It seems to me that going to a longer, finer tippet has other benefits besides reducing drag. How can we know that the elimination of micro-drag was the reason for success?
    What other advantages are you referring to?
    Regards,

    Silver

    "Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"..........Szent-Gyorgy

  9. #9
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    "Occam's Razor will conclude that the most likely cause is micro drag." Since, at any point in time you cannot exclude all variables and since many of the variables change all the time (and I mean that literally) Occam's Razor does not apply. I opt to disagree with some of your other assertions too but neither you or I will get anywhere in any furtherance of our respective case.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Creek View Post
    What other advantages are you referring to?
    Finer tippet = less visible
    Longer leader = more distance between fly and fly-line.

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