Top 10 Flies This Time of Year

Top 10 Flies

This time of year can be a great time of year to shake of the winter and get out on the water in the Rockies and Western U.S.  Here are some of the top flies for us that we have personally been fishing this time of year around Southwest Montana:

  1. Zebra midge: You might be getting tired of fishing with these tiny little flies if you have been fishing all through the winter, but we have still been seeing large numbers hatching.  The Zebra Midge is a great midge pattern that has been working well fished dead drift under an indicator or while tight line nymphing, usually fished with another nymph with either technique.
  1. Griffins Gnat: Since Midges are still hatching in large numbers it would make sense to have some dry flies along to imitate them too.  Our pick here is the tried and true Griffin’s Gnat.  This pattern actually is meant to imitate a cluster of midges instead on a single bug, this makes it a lot easier to see the little fly too!  While this pattern isn’t known for its all day long floating ability like a Chubby Chernobyl, but can still support smaller droppers like a Zebra Midge if you do want to fish some tiny dry droppers.
  1. WD-40: This time of year is pretty much prime time for a fly like the WD-40.  Originally it was tied as a midge emerger, it has also proven itself very effective as a blue winged olive imitation as well.  Fishing it as an emerger is deadly when a hatch is on, this pattern works great fished as a nymph under an indicator or on a tight line rig.  Make sure to match the size and colors to the bugs hatching on the water you are fishing.
  1. Egg: I know what some of you purists or more traditional fly fishermen are thinking… “A worm isn’t a fly!”  Well that is true but they are a great imitation of trout food for this time of year especially where raianbows naturally spawn.  They do this in the spring and the eggs deposited can get caught in the current making for an easy meal.  Eggs are best fished as a nymph under an indicator or on a tight line rig.
  1. Adams: Ok the Adams is pretty cliché and could have been substituted for a number of BWO dry imitations, but the Adams works well as a Midge dry in the right sizes, still works as a convincing BWO dry, and is a staple in the box so it makes this list.  And by the way we won’t specify parachute, traditionally tied, or some other variation… pick your favorite.
  1. Pheasant Tail Nymph: Since the Baetis are moving around and on the menu we have to make sure and target them pre-hatch just like the trout are.  The go-to in our boxes is the Pheasant Tail Nymph.  Tried and true it gets the job done for us in most any variation i.e., with or without a bead, flashback, or with little rubber legs.  This is one pattern that is a staple in our box.
  1. DuraStone: Trout this time of year are looking for a big meal to pack on some pounds and with stoneflies being more active, they are a perfect candidate.  Also a big heavy stonefly is a great way to sink some of the other small nymphs previously mentioned on a nymphing rig.  The DuraStone is a personal pattern, and a favorite, but many others will fit the bill (the Kaufmann Stone is another go-to pattern).
  1. Wooly Bugger: Sticking with the big meals, the Wooly Bugger is claiming a spot in this realm as well.  Imitating a lot of things, but nothing to specifically the Wooly Bigger is a buggy pattern that can be fished many different ways and fat out catches fish.  Black, olive, and brown are great patterns to have along in anything from bead or cone head, with or without rubber legs, with or without flash, in sizes 12-4, and try fishing then like a streamer or nymph just make sure to hold on.
  1. Zonker: We are putting one more big meal on the menu, and the Zonker is getting the nod.  While something with a bigger head to push water will beat out the Zonker when the water gets really dirty for us here, the Zonker has a natural profile and enough flash to make it easy to spot and realistic to fool the trout with a big appetite.
  1. Cased caddis: One big event to look forward to for us is the Mother’s Day Caddis hatch.  While the water is still too cold for these little erratic flyers to be hatching in big numbers, there are still a TON of the larva in the water getting ready to start doing their thing.  These caddis live their larva life in a case they make, and these can become dislodged from the spot they were anchored them getting caught up in the current making for an easy trout snack.  These flies will stay in the top 10 list for us up through the peak of the hatch too.