Home Fishing Tips The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing Hatches

The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing Hatches

The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing Hatches

insect hatches are one of the best times to catch trout you know right where they are you know they’re actively feeding and with a little bit of observation you can get a pretty good idea of what they’re eating so it’s just a matter of picking a fly out of your box throwing it over them catching fish right but it’s not always that easy in this show we’re gonna show you some special techniques for identifying the flies drifting the fly over the fish and taking advantage of these great fishing opportunities oh nice fish that fish has already refused that flight and you’re gonna have to try just a slightly different pattern the rule cast pick up is a great cast to use it a lot of fishing situations this is a beautiful wild trout from a small stream just a gorgeous little fish I say hit that bank let’s go to that grass bed the Orvis guide to fly-fishing is supported by poor of his fly-fishing Yellowstone Teton territory crazy rainbow ranch adipose Boat Works Global rescue crowd unlimited Oskar Blues brewery there are four major groups at trout stream insects that hatch in or near the water you don’t need to be able to identify them that closely entomology has scared more people away from fly-fishing than anything except knots but it does help to identify the insects into their broad groups or orders because each one has a different life cycle and trout don’t always respond to every stage of their life the most important trout stream insects are mayflies caddisflies stone flies and midges you can get into more detail on these insects if you want and it can help because hatch has changed with a season and it doesn’t hurt to know about each one but for basic knowledge just being able to tell the difference between these is important in most rivers mayflies are the most important trout stream insect they live as larvae for almost a full year underwater and then rise to the surface to hatch into what we call a done or a sub-adult these flies then fly into nearby trees the mole and turn into the full adult called a spinner in a day or two which then returned to the water and lay their eggs trout eat the nymphs or larvae throughout the season but they only have access to the adults when they rise to the surface when they flood around the water after they first hatch and then when they return to the river to lay eggs because the adults then fall to the water and die but when the Flies hatch or return to lay eggs they’re concentrated in vast numbers at once and trout take advantage of the insects and feed with abandon in fact trout often lose their normal caution at the height of a hatch and can be approached more easily which is another reason we love hatches so may fly spinners are the final egg-laying form of the mayfly and they hover over the riffles they do this mating dance and they’re kind of it kind of bounce up and down and you’ll see them hit the water occasionally eventually they’re all gonna fall to the water and trout love them so you know if you see these spinners over the water you want to try to grab one to see about what size and what color they’re because it’s hard to tell when they’re in the air just exactly what color and size they are so just take your hat and swipe at them grab one like I did here and now later on if the spinners fall to the water I know what fly to put on Cantus flies are perhaps the second most important group of trout stream insects they have a slightly different lifecycle they also live on the river bottom is larvae but many of them construct cases of sticks or stones although some are free-living and don’t build cases but just before they hatch into winged adults they go into a pupa stage which is a life stage that rises to the surface once the pupae reaches the surface it struggles to emerge as a winged adult just under the surface the Flies are helpless here so trout often key into them because they’re an easy meal once caddisflies emerged as a winged adult they most often hop and skitter briefly and then fly away so although trout eat the adults they’re more likely to eat the emerging pupae then Candice enter their deceptive stage they are a dishonest insect once hatched they can live for up to a month out of the water before returning to the water to lay their eggs every day they form big migrations and fly upstream in groups and although it might look like a hatch because you see so many flies in the air most of these catus adults never touch the water so they’re out of reach of the trout only when the catice flies return to the water to mate and lay eggs and die after mating just like mayflies are they on the surface and available for a trout meal these are called spent caddis and like may fly spinners trout eat them with great abandon when it finally happens sometimes persistence pays off we floated that catice fly over this fish I don’t know how many times good floats didn’t eat didn’t eat but we were stubborn and didn’t switch fly patterns and finally ate the caddis finally ate it you know people people think that that trout are so selective but you know they’re pretty opportunistic and that the fly the fly is decent and they’re feeding heavily and it floats over them and it’s kinda in the ballpark usually with good present you could take the fish well done stoneflies have yet a different life cycle and behavior like the other two they have a larval stage underwater but they don’t hatch on the water surface like mayflies and caddisflies these insects crawl to stream side rocks and vegetation and hatch into adult out of the water on the bank so the adults are not available as often to the trout however don’t fly adults are clumsy fliers and they often get blown into the water by the wind or they fall on the surface and are also available to trout when they return to the water to lay eggs midges are so small that they might seem insignificant but they can be an important source of trout food in fact in tail water rivers below dams they can be the primary source of trout food and if you fish these rivers you better pay attention to midges midges start life as a worm like larvae that trout eat in great quantities like catus flies to have a pupa stage which is readily spotted by the trout near the surface and easy to capture and like catalyzed midges fly away quickly once they sprout their wings but trout do eat the adults as well especially when it’s really cold or windy and the flies have trouble taking off midges also return to the water to mate lay eggs and die and they often form large clusters of from two to dozens of insects hooked together trout eat these midge clusters and it allows you to fish up bigger fly when imitating these tiny insects how did Crowley respond to these hatches well sometimes they don’t respond which is very frustrating maybe the waters too cold and the fish are reluctant to come to the surface sometimes the hatch is not heavy enough to interest trout maybe the trout are just acting like jerks but when they do respond trout first begin to eat the nymphs close to the bottom as the insects get active before their migration to the surface this is a good time deficient in then as the insects begin to drift in the current as they rise to the surface trout begin to intercept them more in mid-water and we’ll feed closer to the surface finally the fish will feed at all levels or may even concentrate mostly on insects trapped at the surface this is the height of the hatch when fish feed most actively and gives you some of the best fishing because they lose most of their caution in their eagerness to feed when insects first reach the surface they have two problems first the meniscus represents a physical barrier to the insects and also at this point they need to emerge from their larval skin and hatched into a winged adult this can happen quickly or it can take minutes trout know these struggling insects are easy pickings and they seem to prefer them in this stage which we call an emerge once the winged adults have emerged sometimes they ride the water for a long time especially if it’s cold or rainy on dry sunny days the insects may fly away almost immediately the longer and insect rides the water the more likely it is that a trout will feed on the adult then once insects return to the water to mate and lay eggs typically in large groups trout wait for the dead and dying flies lying spent in the water to wash down where they can be eaten if just one insect is hatching the puzzle is not that hard to figure out however if more than one insect is hatching at the same time you should try to figure out which one the trout prefer you can try to observe which one they are eating by watching fish rise trying to determine which insect disappears in the rise but that’s often difficult and it’s not always easy to tell which stage the trout are taking are they eating the emerge or just under the surface or are they eating the fully immerged adult or are they eating both sometimes trout eat all of them at all stages but sometimes they get picky and prefer one type or one stage if you observe the rise forms of the trout though you may pick up some clues if a rise is very splashy the fish is probably either taking emerges or eating a large fluttering insect if there are no bubbles in the rise form the trout is taking an emerge just under the surface if there are bubbles in the rise form the trout is taking flies off the surface because as they feed on the surface they ingest air which is then expelled through their gills if the rise is subtle and just produces a ring crowd are usually taking small insects on the surface may fly spinners or spent egg-laying caddis now you have at least a guess on what type of insect trout are eating and what stage you may not get it totally right but at least you have some clues to go on how do you make sure you have the best fly you probably don’t need an exact imitation of the insect router feeding gun you need something that’s close enough to fool the trout as it floats by and even in relatively slow water trout don’t have that much time to inspect to fly so as long as it’s close and behaving naturally you have a good chance of fooling a trout they’re wary but honestly they aren’t that smart most experienced fly fishers agree that the size of the fly is the most important factor trout often ignore something that is smaller than their current food and are suspicious of something that’s larger they just want to eat what’s safe and has already been identified as food and anything that falls outside of that box is just debris to them if you can catch a sample of the insect in question put it on the Lydia fly box and match it to something in your box if you only see flies in the air or around the water and can’t catch a sample pick a fly that’s a size or two smaller than what you think you see flies in the air and on the water always look much bigger than their true size I can’t tell you why but it always fools me next in importance is shape does the fly have an upright wing or are the wings held close to the body the profile of a fly can be what triggers trout to feed so pick a fly with an upright wing if you think the fish are eating mayflies and one with a wing close to the body if you think they’re taking canis is it a spent mayfly or one that just hatched flies that have just hatch have upright wings but spent may fly spinners have wings spread out on the surface and ride low to the water if you suspect fish are taking in a merger a fly with short wings or just wing stubs and perhaps a shuck to imitate the nymph skin the insect is trying to wriggle out of might be in order he’s chomping so we have had a lot of trouble catching these fish they got really really snotty and what I did was I went to a longer tip it and a smaller fly and sometimes that’ll do the trick for you trying to use side pressure here to to lead the fish both ways I hate having a fish that’s that’s straight downstream from me because the fly pulls out more easily there so it’s a little tough at this angle to keep side pressure I’m going to have to eventually bring them straight up to get them close to the boat but if I get them up here then I can side pressure them right into the net so he’s ready so I’m just gonna slide them in and Eddie’s hopefully yeah gonna net him Thank You Eddie thank you for the great boat positioning you know fishing during a hatch from a boat the positioning of the boat is absolutely critical and it’s not like you’re waiting you can move around you have to put the boat in the right place and stay there and addy just slid that boat in beautifully right in range then able this to get a good presentation of the fish so a how important you think color is during a hatch well I think trying to emulate the flies that you see obviously color pattern we want to match that to the best of our ability to put it on the water and present it to the fish as if it belongs there I don’t think it’s always important that it needs to be an exact color you know today we’re throwing some stuff that has purple on it yeah right and and the flies are black so I don’t think it’s it’s always a must but we want to be in the in the general area I think to match the Hat yeah there’s a dispute on how well fish can see color or whether it matters and most guides will give you a similar answer to what addy told me here but head your bets and try to match the insect as closely as you can if fish are taking an insect with a yellow body and cream wings an imitation with a yellowish body and brownish wings should work okay a fly with an olive body and dark grey wings might not just try to get the shade as close as you can the right leader is almost as important as the right fly this is not that difficult go in fishing hatches with fish close to the surface you want to ensure your fly lands with stealth you should be using a nine-foot leader at minimum and it’s usually better to go to a 12-footer because when casting to trout you want to keep the thicker fly line as far away as possible a fly line makes a much bigger splash than a leader I would use the lightest tip it possible for the sized fly you’re using so if you’re fishing a size 16 fly and the tippet chart says you can use a 4 X 5x or 6x or the old rule of thumb dividing the fly size by three to get the tip it size which would give you 5x I would go with 6 X in this case unless the water is really fast and bro or very dirty or the fish are quite large your flies should be treated with something to help it float if you’re imitating an adult insect the best way to do this is to smear a small amount of fly paste on the fly then when the fly stops floating or after you catch a fish on it treat the fly with white desiccant powder which retreats the fly and adds a new coating of silicone you can start right out with a powder if you want but the converse doesn’t work once a fly is wet the silicone paste doesn’t adhere to the fly properly that fish was a real pain there’s a bunch of fish over here that have been very annoying and very hard to get and they wouldn’t take my dry fly so what I did was I switched to an emerge just hanging in the film and that sometimes does the trick they’re number ways you go fish and mergers one is to just put no floating or anything on it and throw it out there let it sink a little bit below the surface and you’ll see the rise anyway the fish will still make a swirl when it takes your merger another way to do it is you can put floating on a merger because it’s still gonna ride low in the surface film it doesn’t have that bushy hackle or anything another way to do it is to grease your leader just an inch or two from the fly the grease leader will float and the fly will just right just under the surface and you’ll see that leader twitch when the fish takes it you got the right fly you hope and it’s all ready to go on your leader but before you hit the water it’s important to learn the reach gasp it’s one of the best ways to get a natural drift during a head and if you don’t know how to do it you’re really not in the game let’s go talk to casting instructor Pete cutter about how to properly do the reach cast hi I’m Pete coots are with the Orvis fly fishing schools today I want to talk to you about the reach cast and reach cast modifications the reach cast is by far I feel the most important and useful tool when you’re fishing any kind of moving water this reach cast allows us to reposition the fly line so we get a nice drag free drift when we make a cast across the river that line is the largest mass on the water and that currents going to have the most effect on it it’s going to push that line giving us a belly so we need to get that line upstream of that fly a lot of us just meant but the reach cast takes the place of that man and it actually sets you up for a better drift as soon as that fly lands when I make a cast across the river that line is going to get pushed by the current you can see this belly forming my fly is now dragging away from my target and that’s not good if I make this cast and then make a mend that men can also pull that fly away from that target so this reach cast is going to allow our fly to land with a drag free natural drift right away to make this reach cast we’re gonna make our cast but after we stop the rod before our fly lands we’re gonna reach upstream and we’re gonna let some lines slide through our hands if we hold on to this line when we make this slide our fly comes back towards us and we lose our accuracy or we lose our distance so we have to make sure when we make this cast that we let the line slide through our hands that’s going to allow our fly to stay out there where that fish is now a traditional reach cast we make the cast make that reach our rods down here low we can come back and now we start to follow that fly on down we still have a relatively straight line to that fly we can still have some varying currents that may affect that line so what I like to do is a little bit of a modification to this reach cast rather than stopping my rod and lowering it down I like to stop my rod and raise it up a little bit higher that’s going to put less line on the water giving you a little less drag a little less belly and a little bit of a longer natural drift so I’m gonna make my cast I’m gonna stop my rod high sweep it high and now I can follow that fly down with my rod a little bit higher if I need to make a little men I have less line on the water that I have to work with with my rod down low I got to work a little bit harder to make that larger meant so again I stopped the rod high reach high now I can follow that fly down and get that nice natural drift by doing this cast now my leader is upstream on my fly as well I’m getting a much more natural presentation than that leader downstream of that fly sometimes we’re gonna reach to the right sometimes we’re gonna reach to the left practice this cast and I guarantee it’s gonna help you catch a lot more fish the most important part of fishing a hatch is to float your fly over a trout in a natural manner without spooking the fish various all right good job I don’t think he’s that big buddy’s head shakes that’s not a slimy big one huh it’s not the big oh no it’s not the big one not at all yeah I’m sure I saw him okay nice one yeah nice one odd a little dry fly look missed it oh we got a caller on that fish hmm that’s a nice dry flat fish yeah any day when you’re fishing a hatch it’s important to have the right fly or a fly that’s in the ballpark but it’s so important to get that drift just right now and on that cast I made a little bit of a reach castle the upstream reach and then I bumped the tip of the rod a little bit to throw a little bit more slack into that and the leader landed on the water was a little bit more slack the fly floated naturally right over the fish and he came up and took it confidently occasionally moving a fly can work but for the most part you should try to eliminate drag so your fly floats along in the current at the exact same speed as the naturals sometimes this drag is obvious but sometimes it’s more subtle and not as easy to see from 30 feet away you fish dry flies and emerges in exactly the same manner dead drift getting the perfect float requires some planning before you make your first cast don’t jump right in and flail away although some hatches only last for an hour so you’ll still do better if you take your time first pick a fish and watch its rise rhythm if you have a choice of multiple fish look for the one that’s rising steadily a trout that rises infrequently is much more difficult to catch than one that rises every few seconds and is preoccupied with feeding and try to estimate the fish’s cadence how often does it rise try to pitch your fly over the fish just before you think the next rise will occur they aren’t always reliably predictable but it’s worth a try next look at the currents between you and the fish if you have to put your line and leader over multiple currents the chance of the fly dragging is greatly increased as those currents yank the line and leader away from the fly is there any opportunity for you to carefully wade into a different position so that you can cast over just a single current Lane one option is to wait directly behind the fish in the same current lane so that you can fish directly upstream to it but you can’t always do that because of deep or fast water another option is to carefully wait above the fish and cast downstream to it this requires careful weighting because it’ll be easier for the fish to notice you and it works best on wider rivers where you can stay far enough away from the fish to avoid spooking it this is a great trick to use because the fly floats over the fish before the leader but it requires careful use of a reach cast or a slack line cast or your fly will drag almost immediately this beautiful fat cutthroat is a good example of changing your positions during a hatch I have been fishing from this Bank and getting a little bit of drag I guess because the fish on the far side of the seam just wouldn’t take the fly they’d refuse it I could see them coming up and looking at it they wouldn’t take it so I moved myself around to the tail of the pool so I could shoot straight upstream to the fish and bingo it worked so if a fish is steadily rising making a nice sedate sipping and you throw your fly out there and also then the fish takes to fly with a tremendous splash and you don’t hook it that’s a refusal that fish change its mind at the last minute closes mouth and it’s momentum made the splash the strategy there is to switch flies if the fish keeps rising sometimes they stop rising but if the fish does keep rising that fish has already refused that fly it knows that fly and you’re gonna have to try it just a slightly different pattern in that circumstance but not all refusals are splashing sometimes the trout will just bump the fly with its snout but never open its mouth or it will swirl right next to the fly it’s hard to determine whether a trout has refused your fly or you just miss setting the hook but your strategy should be the same pick a slightly different fly and avoid drag at all costs what do you do if the fish does not take your fly first make sure you aren’t casting short don’t cast right to the rise because the trout may not see your fly when trout rise they drop back and inhale the insect then swim a bit forward to regain their spot an accuracy is so important because many fish won’t move more than a few inches for a fly but I don’t understand it are they not eating those big mayflies so I am being totally humiliated by these cutthroats cutthroat trout are supposed to be stupid right well these fish are not stupid and I put four different fly changes over the fish I’ve tried my best presentations it’s just not working so in a situation like that during a hatch one of the things you suspect is drag so what I’m gonna do is put on a longer lighter tippet I had 4x on I’m gonna go to 5x and I’m gonna put a pretty long tip and on hopefully I can get a better drift enough I’ll change flies to just to make sure it’s so great when it all comes together fishing hatches is not always easy but it’s always an intellectual challenge even though we’re playing against a critter with a brain the size of an almond common misconception cutthroat are stupid yeah I’ll get him in Jeremy sorry the cutthroat are stupid and they don’t fight well we just disproved both of those things with this nice guy beautiful cutter oh wow so longer tippet different fly Jeremy gave me a beautiful green Drake invitation bingo about the second cast so sometimes it just takes a little bit of change in your tackle to make the difference God they are gorgeous hard to be I hope you enjoyed the show fishing two hatches doesn’t have to be that complicated but you can take it to any level you want that’s the fun of fly-fishing but with a little bit of basic and Tamala G presentation skills and observation you’ll have lots of fun during hatches the Orvis guide to fly-fishing is supported by Orvis fly-fishing Yellowstone Teton territory crazy rainbow ranch adipose Boat Works Global rescue Trout Unlimited Oscar blues brewery


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