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Dapping, The Exciting Way of Fishing Flies that

Fly, Quiver and Jump

By Jim Stuard


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Have you ever been on the water and just been totally beaten up by the wind? Have you ever seen likely structure and just not had the chops to get there with a fly rod?


Typically, when talking about tested and innovative fishing techniques, the concept of ‘dapping’ doesn’t immediately come to mind. Yet there are references to this technique in author Izaak Walton’s book The Compleat Angler, dating to the 1500’s. Dapping probably goes back even farther on the angling timeline. That said, there is currently a new look at an old way of angling that may rekindle interest in the method. Robert H. Boyle, the author of Dapping The Exciting Way of Fishing Flies that Fly, Quiver and Jump has taken an ancient way of fishing with flies, and put a modern spin on it.


At its core the dapping technique demands very long rods in the 17’-25’ range and, in conjunction with a spinning reel and mono line, a highly specialized floss ‘blowline.’ The blowline is hung in the wind and it gently daps or dances the fly on the surface of the water. This action induces vicious strikes from fish. The technique looks sound.  The gear, while esoteric and sometimes hard to acquire, looks fun to fish with. The most enjoyable part of this book is Mr. Boyle’s descriptions of fishing the ‘dapping’ method. He discusses how dapping may have its limitations but can fill a void where weather or topography may leave a fly fisher searching for better conditions.


The book loses focus and wanders a bit when it begins to list all the flies and techniques for tying them. ‘Dapping’ could have easily have been a large pamphlet instead of a book as there are only 32 pages actually devoted to the technique and gear. Conversely a good deal of space is dedicated to the flies Mr. Boyle uses, some of which are designed to be hung from their center point of balance to appear more realistic. The rough technique and finish on the flies puts them clearly in the ‘fishing fly’ category. Fair enough. I didn’t expect to see full dress salmon flies here.


On a positive note, I very much enjoyed Mr. Boyle’s stories about each flies history.  He delves into fishing methods for each fly, how it fished, and the conditions where it excels. It’s probably as much fun tying a mobile of six mating crane flies and gently lowering it onto the water as it is seeing a largemouth crush the entire assembly! These essays make the book worth the price of admission. I especially liked the chapter on grass shrimp, their background, and the attendant flies. I’d have appreciated a few more stories on using the gear and I think what was most lacking were illustrative photos or diagrams of the gear and setup. I would have really valued a diagram of the leader setup and maybe a picture of the actual floss used.


I’m not sure you need to tie dapping specific flies or have a 25’ rod to use this technique (even though I’m guessing Mr. Boyle swears by them). But I would certainly like to try it on my local bass and bluegill haunts.


Dapping is available from Stackpole Books (ISBN-13: 978-0-8117-0142-6) for $24.95.

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