Between hatches, you principally have two decisions: Sit round within the grass all day, killing time till the trout begin feeding on the floor. Or tie on a nymph and begin touchdown fish immediately. With out fail, I go for the latter. Opinions on the best nymphs abound, however listed below are the patterns which have proved efficient for me west of the Continental Divide. Quite a lot of the flies are outdated favorites again East, too, so don’t hesitate to strive them wherever you moist a line.
Any fly store value its salt may have tons of caddis-pupa patterns readily available, and any variety of them will serve you properly. I favor a primary beadhead model, with a fats physique and a sparse flip or two of partridge fluff extending from the stomach. This mimics a drifting or swimming caddis, and tempts trout from early spring all through summer time. It’s additionally guess on Western streams throughout the October caddis hatch. Fish it for trout, however don’t overlook that steelhead grew up consuming this caddis, too, and should react instinctively to at least one drifting in entrance of their nostril.
The sample is killer throughout Western salmonfly emergences, when you’ll be able to fish it in and round boulders or swing it towards shore with equal success. There’s no official tally of which stonefly patterns have accounted for essentially the most 20-plus-inch browns and rainbows through the years, however my guess is that the Bitch Creek holds the highest spot. However don’t get the concept this fly is barely productive throughout the spring salmonfly hatch. I’ve reduce the white rubber legs off this sample and deep drifted it throughout later summer time, in crystal-clear water, for choosy British Columbia bull trout weighing as much as 14 kilos.
For those who’ve bought the time to take a seat behind a vice and finagle with a difficult and scientifically correct sample, extra energy to you. I don’t. So once I’m headed to the Missouri, Bighorn, Madison, or Beaverhead Rivers, I bang out dozens of basic Brassies. There’s nothing particular about it—only a skinny copper wire wound on a hook, with a wrap or two of peacock herl on the head with a whip end. However this bug works wherever trout are feeding on midges, and for those who tie it in a wide range of wire colours, you’ll have midge hatches coated wherever you fish. Due to the wire physique, this fly sinks rapidly, which makes it an amazing alternative for dropping behind a dry fly.
OK, technically a Woolly Bugger will not be a nymph. Nevertheless it serves the aim when dead-drifted close to the underside throughout stonefly exercise. And there’s no denying that this sample, whether or not dead-drifted, swung, or stripped in, is among the only flies of all time. What qualifies as a Woolly Bugger, at this stage in its evolution, is lax. However irrespective of how it’s tied—with or with out a bead head, on a protracted or brief hook, and so forth.—fish devour it. I all the time carry a squadron of Buggers and fish them solo or in tandem, with one other Bugger of a distinct shade. It’s lethal, irrespective of the place you throw it.
I’m not an enormous fan of the Czech nymphing approach, however I do like Czech nymphs. These patterns are tied on heavy, curved scud hooks that provide a particularly buggy illustration of caddisfly and cranefly larvae, in addition to freshwater shrimp. These flies are comparatively straightforward to tie, and so they sink like rocks, particularly when wound with lead wire. That is precisely what you need a larval illustration to do. You’ll be able to fish these flies with conventional rods and methods, or go together with the entire Czech nymphing system, which implies you principally solely fish your chief and fly below the rod tip.
Greg’s Unimaginable Egg
There are numerous egg flies available on the market, however my favourite is, selfishly, Greg’s Unimaginable Egg. It’s my very own tackle this must-have, and also you received’t discover it in retailers, as a result of it’s so ugly that no person would pay cash for it. However bear in mind, trout and whitefish don’t eat solely completely spherical variations of trout, salmon, and sucker spawn—so that you don’t must tie the fly completely to get outcomes. As soon as I’ve the supplies in place, I can whip out a GIE in about 40 seconds. That’s essential, since you’ll lose loads of them as your cut up shot bangs this fly throughout the underside. The eggs are particularly efficient throughout late fall and winter, and into the spring season.
This was once my go-to mayfly imitation—earlier than I opted for contemporary patterns, tied with artificial supplies—however there’s little doubt that it stays probably the greatest nymphs ever, and it nonetheless has a spot in my fly field. The Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear matches a wide range of bugs, starting from stoneflies to inexperienced drakes, PMDs, and Callibaetis, relying on the colour and measurement. It’s additionally an honest match for caddis in a pinch. When tying this sample, be certain to choose the rabbit-hare fibers from the stomach. The pulled-out fibers look “leggy” and get a trout’s consideration quick.
The Lightning Bug is a trout-getter in excessive and murky water. That mentioned, it’s productive by way of the complete season, even in clear water. Tied with a pearl tinsel physique, a silver beadhead, and a silver wire rib, this factor shines—actually. The lighting bug is an effective match for a wide range of mayflies and will be tied in any variety of sizes and colours, with pearl, crimson, and purple being standouts. Strive fishing it in tandem with different nymphs.
It is a new fly on the block, however I fished it extensively final winter whereas matching midges on Montana tailwaters. The silver bead on the hook eye imitates the pure gasoline bubble that varieties on midge pupa as they battle to the floor. Fish key in on that visible in an enormous method. Plus, this fly is simple to tie, so you’ll be able to bang out a dozen in an hour and be prepared for a full day on the water, tricking technical-tailwater trout.
Tremendous-realistic stonefly nymph patterns look actually neat in a fly bin. However I’ll take my probabilities with patterns that mimic a stonefly subtly, and one of the best of the lot is Pat’s Rubberlegs. Also called “The Pickle,” the sample is much like the unique Girdle Bug, and it has change into absolutely the go-to sample for Western guides when fishing two-fly setups below an indicator, or when dropping a stonefly nymph off an grownup stonefly imitation. This sample’s Tremendous Floss legs wiggle within the present, and its easy chenille physique, tied in any variety of colours, affords a pleasant stonefly-ish silhouette. Since most stoneflies hatch on freestones streams, the place the present is ripping, trout don’t have time to depend segments or legs. So why hassle with real looking patterns? For those who lose a Pat’s Rubberlegs, you don’t must shed tears or marvel why you invested two hours tying a flowery sample now misplaced on the underside.
Let’s say you’re misplaced and ravenous, or that you must present protein for the household, or there’s a nuclear winter and there’s nothing left to eat on land. In any case, simply tie on a Beadhead Prince Nymph and fish it alongside the underside of a Western trout stream. Very quickly you’ll be overwhelmed by whitefish, which love flashy patterns. The Prince Nymph’s white, biot wings add to the attraction. However the Prince isn’t only for whities. Trout like it, too; I fondly bear in mind catching the primary good brown trout of my life on one whereas fishing between ice jams on Montana’s Rock Creek. On rivers, the Prince is an effective match for caddis and stoneflies, and on lakes it may be fished with out the white wings as an honest match for freshwater shrimp.
This sample is alleged to be so productive that even a blind man may catch fish on it. Therefore the title. Hyperbole maybe, however there’s no denying that this bug is a high producer on tailwaters, and it’s one in all a number of go-to bugs on Montana’s Bighorn River. I wish to fish the Ray Charles in tandem with a lead fly, resembling a pheasant tail, a scud, or an egg. The fly is tied with ostrich herl, which mimics the quite a few legs discovered on precise sow bugs. Do that one if you hit the ’Horn, or any tailwater, and also you’ll quickly imagine how the fly earned its title.
Ritt’s Tung-Syn PT
What number of instances has winter turned to spring in a single day, and all of a sudden you’re standing within the river along with your pants down, so to talk, with nothing however a bunch of midges and worms in your fly field? Preserve Al Ritt’s deep-sinking tungsten PT in your field and also you’ll all the time be prepared for that first wave of mayflies. It’s a easy however flashy sample that drops quick, which is vital, since trout might not wish to transfer far off the underside throughout these sudden spring days, contemplating the water remains to be prone to be winter chilly.
The RS-2 was initially tied to mimic bluewing olive and Baetis mayflies, however it can be tied in smaller sizes to imitate midges and Tricos. When matching the tiny bugs, you’ll must fish it off a light-weight chief, one thing within the 5X or 6X vary, and also you’ll not wish to use a fast-action rod, otherwise you’ll break off as many fish as you hook. Top-of-the-line methods to fish the RS-2—whether or not imitating little olives or these tiny Tricos and midges—is behind a bigger dry fly. Generally it’s troublesome to detect a take when fishing this smallish and hard-to-see sample, however you’ll know one thing took it if the lead dry jerks throughout the floor or rapidly dives. You can too drop an RS-2 deeper as a part of a two-fly rig.
No person likes these items. Numerous anglers query whether or not they’re even flies. However the fact is, their effectiveness can’t be denied. Freestone, tailwater, boulder pocket, broad flat—irrespective of the place you throw the annelid, it’s going to take some trout. It’s extensively believed that worms first gained reputation on New Mexico’s San Juan River, the place in any other case choosy trout couldn’t resist them. Phrase unfold, and right this moment the worm is ubiquitous. It’s typically utilized in tandem with different flies; throw this sample because the lead fly with a small Baetis, midge, or mayfly nymph trailing behind, or strive it as a dropper off a high-floating foam stonefly, or terrestrial sample. Both method, you’ll get bites. As we speak, there are quite a few variations of the San Juan, virtually too many to select from. My go-to is a typical skinny pink or red-chenille model, with a small bead within the center. This variant affords a delicate really feel when a trout bites into it, versus a hard-wire, deep-sinking sample that may break a trout’s tooth on impression. Ugly or not, you’d be loopy to not carry a number of of those to the water each time you strive for trout.
For those who’ve ever puzzled why a beat up Elk Hair Caddis works practically as properly (or possibly even higher) sunken than it did when floating excessive and dry, look no additional than the delicate hackle. The sample is made with minimal quantities of fabric and represents nothing specifically, however it sends a transparent message to hungry trout: “I’m weak and straightforward to catch.” This explains why such a shabby-looking fly can crush trout throughout a wide range of hatches in a variety of methods—lifeless drifted below an indicator, floating within the floor movie behind a dry fly, swung on a decent line by way of riffles. Delicate hackles are tied in a wide range of colours and physique shapes, however the simplistic thread, or pheasant-tail physique variations, with a wire rib and simply two or three turns of Hungarian partridge hackle on the head will normally do the trick. Any time you’ve gotten hassle matching a hatch, or you’re ready for a hatch to start, the delicate hackle needs to be your go-to fly.
Earlier than his premature passing, Gary LaFontaine achieved many nice issues, and one of many milestones was leaving the flyfishing group with the Emergent Sparkle Pupa. This sample is lights-out when fishing spring caddis hatches, when most anglers use commonplace dry flies, believing trout are taking grownup bugs. Right here’s the factor: Throughout spring caddis hatches, thousands and thousands of grownup caddis are flying above the water, or simply dabbing their butts on the floor to put eggs. Trout will eat these bugs, however they like taking weak pupa drifting just below the floor or within the movie. With a deer-hair wing greased with floatant and an Antron physique that rides just below the floor, the Emergent Sparkle Pupa will appeal to tons of subsurface strikes. So, let all these dudes throw their Elk Hairs at these rise rings and marvel why they aren’t catching. Once they see you hook one fish after the subsequent, and ask, “What are you utilizing?,” simply inform them the reality—a caddis.
You’ll be able to preserve your beadhead squadrons tucked into their neat little rows. If I would like a mayfly imitation, I’ll dig into my field, seize a sparsely tied conventional flashback pheasant-tail nymph from the litter, and take my probabilities on any trout that swims. I’m satisfied that among the wariest trout on the planet will give this outdated basic a recent look. Why? I spent six years fishing south-central Idaho’s Silver Creek with this sample, and it destroyed trout throughout Beatis, pale-morning dun, and different mayfly hatches, when a beadhead model obtained solely the chilly shoulder.
Frank Smethurst developed the Stone Bomb for fishing excessive water in Colorado. He wanted a fly to get down rapidly, and didn’t wish to connect cut up shot to his chief, so two beadheads of various sizes did the trick. He additionally wished a nymph that rode the present with the hook pointed up, like a Clouser, to extend optimistic connections. He achieved these targets, and completely crushed giant trout, on this sample. Enlist the Bomb when fishing the West’s main stonefly hatches—particularly the salmonfly, Skwala, golden, and nocturnal—and also you’re certain to get eats irrespective of how nasty the spring runoff could also be.
By this level, you might have realized that I don’t like tying time-consuming flies—which is why I just like the Zebra Midge. Once more, you’ll be able to whip out a dozen of those in an hour, and so they completely crush trout, even on closely fished tailwaters, the place I typically think about fish cruise round with 2.5 energy readers on their noses and notebooks tucked below a fin. However this factor nonetheless tips them. You’ll be able to tie a Zebra in an array of colours to go well with site-specific wants. Tie some with a bead, tie others with out. See which works finest. I desire mine beadless, with a easy wind or two of peacock herl on the head, above a black thread physique and wraps of silver wire.