Think Like a Trout, Act Like a Bug.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fly Tying: Foam-body Backswimmer

Winter fly tying continues...

Backswimmers, while not as prolific as waterboatmen, are a good sized mouthful that most trout won't hesitate to pounce on. Typically found in shallower water where they can easily dart to the surface to replenish their air supply, backswimmers (Notonecta) are a great searching pattern when fishing lakes. 

Aquatic adults (those with fully formed wings) can be found during spring and fall while smaller juveniles (without wings) are more common through the summer months. Both rely on an air bubble trapped on their abdomen to breath under water. This trapped bubble gives their underside a sparkly, glistening look.

Backswimmer (adult) with fully formed wings.
Markings can range from just a few darker lines to extensive mottling in shades of brown, tan, and orange.

Backswimmer (juvenile) with no wings.
Juveniles are usually light cream to tan with some darker hairs along the legs and  underside of abdomen.
A simple and effective pattern to imitate backswimmers is a foam-body fly. The first step in the construction of this one is to tie silver tinsel in at the back and wind it up to the 2/3 point on the shank. Rubber hackle is tied in right in front of the tinsel. This basic framework is then glued to the foam body using 5-minute epoxy. The tinsel and epoxy give the underside of the fly the same shinny look as the naturals.

Foam-body Backswimmers.
Eyes and markings (to match naturals) are drawn on using felt markers.

Foam-body Backswimmers.
The underside is colored green to match the ventral color of most naturals.
The combination of foam body and epoxy make for a fly that is just slightly buoyant (unfortunately the fly tends to float wrong way up, but the fish don't seem to mind). A floating fly line and buoyant fly allows you to work it over top of weedy shoals in the early morning or late evening when trout tend to cruise the shallows. Retrieves can range from just the occasional twitch to high-speed darting, and everything in between - just experiment a little to see what the fish prefer. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stonefly Hatches Continued

A few more things to watch for as you work your favorite freestone trout stream...




If the adults are returning to the water to lay eggs, a big bushy dry fly pattern will draw large trout to the surface. If things are quiet on top, a nymph pattern will do equally as well.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Shifting Gears

This is the time of year that I make the shift from fishing mainly lakes to focusing on streams and rivers. There are a few mayfly hatches at this time of year but is the stonefly hatches that really bring larger trout to their feeding stations. If water levels are favorable on your local trout stream, have a look along the banks for signs of fresh stonefly emergence, then choose your fly accordingly.

Stonefly emergence sites are obvious on bridge abutments
but if you look closely at larger rocks and tree trunks along the stream
you will be surprised at the number of shed exuvia that are present.

There are four species of stonefly exuvia here - all emerging at the same time of year.

The white filaments are the linings of the tracheal respiratory system that are shed along with the exoskeleton.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Looking for a Place to Happen

Yes, dragonflies are on the move. Working a nymph along the bottom and it's game on!


Epitheca spinigera - Fresh from the water and looking for a place to emerge

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Get Real

If you are fishing lakes at this time of year forget about all of those attractor type fly patterns. Dragonfly and damselfly emergence is in full swing - so imitating the migrating nymphs as they make their way to shore is the way to go.



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire

Blue winged olives are an early season hatch that results in consistent feeding by trout - both on the surface, and sub-surface. But trout are not the only creatures out for an easy meal...

Freshly emerged Baetis dun - straight from the water and into the web.

Escape is no longer an option.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Best Bet for Spring Trout

One of the first mayflies to emerge in the spring are blue winged olives (Baetis sp.). These mayflies tend to have two or three generations per season depending on how fertile and warm the stream is. When fishing the nymphs remember that it will be the larger mature nymphs that are getting ready to emerge that will be the most active. A simple olive Hare's Ear type pattern is all that is needed, but if you're fishing a fly larger than size 16 your fly is too big.

Baetis sp. nymphs - the larger nymph in the foreground will be ready to emerge in a week or so,
the smaller one in the back still has some growing to do and will emerge in mid-summer. 
Most Baetis nymphs emerge mid-stream on the surface but a few species will crawl out along the stream margin.

Baetis sp. nymph getting ready to emerge.
Not all blue winged olive duns are olive - some come in shades of tan or rusty-brown.

Baetis sp. dun almost fully emerged